I find that my story is similar to many other Salesforce Admins. Your company starts using Salesforce, and in addition to your regular responsibilities, Salesforce administration quickly becomes one of your main job duties. After being a Salesforce “super user” at a large non-profit for a few years, I was excited to join their IT department as a Salesforce Administrator and Report Writer. My background is in Elementary Education, and although I’ve always loved technology, I never had any formal training. I was fortunate enough to have amazing mentors in the company that taught me a wealth of Salesforce knowledge, as well thousands of other Salesforce professionals in theSuccess Community. As a result of seeing how advantageous it was to further my Salesforce experience, I set goals for myself to advance my career which included getting several Salesforce certifications.
When I came over to Galvin Technologies as a Salesforce Consultant there was a Salesforce certification path laid out for me. Because Galvin requires everyone to have Salesforce certifications specific to their role, my path was directed to the Salesforce admin and cloud consultant certifications. My goal was to attain the Administrator, Advanced Administrator, Developer (which has been replaced with App-Builder), and Sales Cloud Consultant certifications.
In doing my research on how other Salesforce experts took their certifications I couldn’t help but be inspired with the certification achievements several people made. My favorite resource for Salesforce certifications is David Liu’s website sfdc99.com, where several people have shared their story of achieving five certifications in only a few weeks. My timeline wasn’t as aggressive as those listed, but my goal was to get four Salesforce certifications in four months. Here is how I did it.
First, let me explain a few obstacles that I am sure many of us have: I have a full time job at Galvin Technologies as a Salesforce Consultant. I also have a busy family life with four young children, which includes three year old twins. So when I come home from work I jump right into my role as a husband and a father. (Or Papa, as my twins like to call me) This includes driving kids to activities, helping my wife with dinner and clean up, a little family fun before we head off to bath-time, followed by reading books and bedtime.
So just like you, life is busy. I hear a lot of people tell me that they would love to get their Salesforce certification, but they don’t have the time. I tell them that they do have the time, and that they just need to manage their days more effectively and commit to their goals. So, I’m sharing some of the strategies I used to pack study time into an already busy day.
What Are Salesforce Certifications?
If you’re curious as to what a Salesforce Certification is, it’s a deeply valued certification geared towards Salesforce administrator, developer, architect, and consulting roles. To study for these certifications people either self-study, or they take classes through Salesforce University. Once you feel that you have adequately prepared, you can schedule to take the exam at a testing center or with an online proctor. The available exams are currently:
- Advanced Administrator
- Sales Cloud Consultant
- Service Cloud Consultant
- Pardot Specialist
- Pardot Consultant
- Marketing Cloud Email Specialist
- Marketing Cloud Social Specialist
- Platform App Builder
- Platform Developer I
- Platform Developer I
- Technical Architect
Most of the exams cost $200 to take and $100 if you need to retake the exam. (Platform Developer II and Technical Architect cost more, and have multiple steps.) For each individual certification you achieve, you’ll then need to maintain your certification by taking three maintenance exams a year, one for each Salesforce release. If price for pursuing a certification is an issue, some employers are willing to pay for your classes.
Methods For Studying for Salesforce Certifications
Studying for a Salesforce certificate may seem difficult, but a few methods exist to make studying for multiple certifications much easier. The following were key factors that helped me pass my exams:
- Review the Study Guides – Salesforce provides study guides for all of the exams on the certification website. Pay attention to where the focus of the exam is, and make sure you master those areas. For example, 18% of the Admin exam is over standard and custom objects, so you should study rigorously for this subject.
- Trailhead – Salesforce released a new training program during Dreamforce 2014 which has quick evolved into an excellent training platform for users, administrators and developers. Trailhead allows all us to advance our understanding of Salesforce at a rate that is self-paced with friendly competition. I used Trailhead to get some hands-on experience for some of the Salesforce features that I hadn’t used before.
- Flash Cards – This was my number one source of studying for my Salesforce exams because it was a quick and easy way to access study material wherever I was. Quizlet has a great mobile app, and many flash card sets for Salesforce Certifications. It was very easy to open the Quizlet app on my phone and study when I was waiting for kids at practice, waiting for the twins to fall asleep after I tucked them in bed, or any time I had a few minutes to spare.
- Salesforce University – If you do better leaning in a structured environment with a certified trainer, consider attending a local class from Salesforce University. I attended the Admin class when I started my Salesforce career, and it was extremely helpful to follow the provided curriculum.
- Helpful Websites – I am so grateful for the passionate Salesforce community who put together websites, blogs, guides and so much more for those who are looking to improve their Salesforce knowledge. I can’t thank them enough. Some of my favorites include SFDC99, Admin Hero, and Button Click Admin
- Have a mentor! – I can’t stress how helpful it was for me to have a few Salesforce experts that I could study with and work through some of the concepts that I didn’t fully understand. Countless times I would come across a question or flashcard that wasn’t familiar with or didn’t think was correct, and I would discuss these topics with other admins and developers who have implement the feature before. What if you don’t have any connections that are Salesforce experts? Go find them! In my experience, local user groups are full of admins and developers who love collaborating and helping other advance their careers. You can also find some great people in the Success Community.
So now that you have some of the stresses of studying handled, it’s time to impress yourself with your accomplishments by changing your employment for the better. There’s no better reason to raise your worth than today… and a Salesforce Certification is the first step in the right direction. If you have questions or want to share your story about how you became Salesforce certified please leave a comment below or tweet me at @sfdc_tony
Also published on Medium.