Starting your Salesforce Certification Journey

When you first decide to get Salesforce certified, you may be unsure of how to proceed. Which certification should you get first, second, third? How many should I get? What should the plan be? What should my Salesforce certification journey look like?

I get this question frequently. My response is always ‘what do you plan to do with your Salesforce career?’. Depending on your intended path, there are different directions to go. Here is what I recommend by role for everyone beginning (or continuing) their Salesforce certification journey.

Admin, Operations or End User

If your Salesforce career path is primarily as an end user or admin, then you probably don’t need more than a few certifications. Get your Certified Admin credential first, as that is the building block for most certifications. It requires general Salesforce administration knowledge, and is a great fit for a variety of job roles.

Your next certifications should be tailored to your role. If your company uses Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Pardot, etc., then get a certification around that. As an administrator supporting a community, get Community Cloud certified. Does your company use Marketing Cloud or Pardot? Then get certified there too!

Many employers will reimburse you for the cost of your certification test because of the confidence and value it brings. Plus it gives you added credibility in future positions. In the end, you will probably have 2-4 certifications.

Consultant

For a Salesforce consultant, you should get more certifications than an end user or admin. Certifications give clients confidence in your skills, provide value to your employer, and give you credibility on the job market. For consultants, the path starts with Certified Admin.

If you have a specialization (CPQ consultant, Marketing Cloud Consultant, Developer), then go for the specialization next. This will likely be an easy certification (or set of certifications) to get.

If you don’t have a specialization, then after getting admin, the process should be:

  • App Builder
  • Advanced Admin
  • Sales Cloud Consultant

The content on those three tests has overlap. So if you have prepared for one, you are part way on the others. Many of my colleagues have taken all three of these certifications within a week and passed.

After those certifications, branch out into areas that could advance your career. Spend time on Trailhead and learn new clouds. A well rounded consultant will often have 4-7 certifications.

Developer

For a Salesforce Developer, the path is simple. First become a Salesforce Certified Admin (not required, but I recommend it for everyone). Next, take Platform Developer I followed by Platform Developer II. These two certifications certify you as a developer.

I have found that a few of the architect certifications are beneficial for developers. Of particular interest are:

  • Development Lifecycle & Deployment Designer – goes through deployment, and scrum vs. waterfall
  • Data Architecture & Management Designer – talks about data architecture and management of large data sets

Many developers are involved in those areas, so they are good certifications to get. That gives a developer 3-5 certifications.

Architect

If you (like me) aspire to be an architect, Salesforce already has a journey mapped for you. Here is the process I recommend:

  1. Admin
  2. App Builder
  3. Advanced Admin
  4. Sales Cloud Consultant
  5. Platform Dev I
  6. Sharing & Visibility Designer
  7. Data Architecture & Management Designer
  8. Application Architect – Awarded Automatically
  9. Development Lifecycle & Deployment Designer
  10. Integration Architecture Designer
  11. Identity & Access Management Designer
  12. System Architect – Awarded Automatically
  13. Platform Dev II

If you complete all of those, you’ll be 13x certified! If you truly plan on getting to the Certified Technical Architect, you’ll need to understand the Mobile Solutions Architecture, as well as Community Cloud. Those are frequently included in board reviews, so be well versed in those areas as well.

Hopefully this helps you define a pathway to getting certified. If you would like any personalized advice on your certification journey, please feel free to message me. I love to talk Salesforce and certifications, so I’d be happy to help you plan your journey.

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I am a 24x Salesforce certified consultant, currently working for Weave. I am passionate about Salesforce, and I enjoy the friendly ecosystem that is filled with talented, intelligent professionals.
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4 thoughts on “Starting your Salesforce Certification Journey

  1. Hi Chris, I am interested in the Consultant route…
    Why dont you have Service Cloud listed as one of the fundamental certifications and have Advanced Admin instead (is not required for aspiring consultants). If I am trying to start a career as consultant do you find Advanced Admin as important?
    Also, I wanted to ask you that I see some opportunities listed as Techno Consultant. Which certifications in your opinion are required in order to apply for these opportunities? Thanks

    1. Service Cloud is valuable for a consultant, but only if Service Cloud is part of their career path. The same applies for any other consultant certification (Community Cloud, Education Cloud, Field Service Lightning, etc.). Advanced Admin covers some items that are valuable to most consultants, such as territory management.

      For a technical consultant, Platform Developer I and some of the architect certifications are very beneficial. I would start with data architecture and sharing & visibility.

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