By Chris Thompson
Gaining your Salesforce Developer Certification can be a vital step in your career. As well as enriching your knowledge and deepening your skill set, certification can also make you more employable and even increase your caliber of salary.
With an investment of time and money required to attain a certification, however, professionals can sometimes find themselves asking whether they are really worth it.
The following article will tell you everything you need to know about Salesforce Developer Certification, how to study for your certification exam, and how certification can aid your career development.
Salesforce is one of the most popular CRM and marketing automation systems in the world and, appropriately, has a wealth of skilled professionals competing for the best job roles and contracts. First and foremost, certification will help you rise to the top of the pile; it sets you apart from the other candidates, which is crucial in this competitive market, especially considering that many of your fellow professionals already hold at least one certification.
According to the 2018 Mason Frank Salesforce Salary Survey, 73% of Salesforce professionals hold at least one certification, with 20% of certified respondents indicating they hold a Force Developer Certification. Likewise, 19% held a Platform Developer I certification — Salesforce Developer Certifications account for the fourth-, sixth-, and tenth-most popular Salesforce certifications overall.
With so many Salesforce professionals holding a developer-focused certification, you don’t stand much of a chance without at least matching their qualifications. What’s more, 29% of respondents to our salary survey stated that their salary increased following certification — if the aim of a career is to earn as much money as you can, certification is a sound investment when it comes to remuneration.
A company as forward-thinking as Salesforce is always looking to improve the way users are educated, and subsequently there was an overhaul to the Salesforce certification structure in 2015. Following the reforms, certification paths became much more refined and specialized, which is great news for those with a clear view in mind of which role or industry they wish to work in.
This is an introductory certification for developers to entrench their knowledge of the declarative tools on the Salesforce platform. It requires no coding experience, other than the ability to identify where code is necessary for development.
Where the basic certification does not require coding knowledge, the advanced certification is very much focused around coding. To attain this certification you will need a strong knowledge of Apex, Visualforce, and integration with third-party applications. Crucially, you can’t achieve this certification if you have not yet completed the basic Force Developer Certification exam.
The first of the new Salesforce credentials, the Commerce Cloud Digital Developer Certification is for Salesforce users who intend on using their skills to develop eCommerce solutions and perform hands-on site configuration tasks.
The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and you are allotted 110 minutes to complete it. This is consistent with other Salesforce certification exams, though it’s worth pointing out that the pass mark for this exam is 70%, which is slightly higher than others.
This certification is more technical and will test your ability to build custom applications on the Force platform. Those aiming to complete this certification should have experience using Apex and Visualforce, and be fully aware of all aspects of the development and testing process.
This certification is currently being reimagined and therefore registration is closed until February 2018.
The Salesforce Platform Developer II certification is designed for the more advanced Force programmers who are proficient in developing sophisticated business applications. Needless to say, the Salesforce Platform Developer I certification is a prerequisite for this advanced credential. Given the complexity of the certification, the testing process consists of two elements: a multiple-choice exam and Trailhead Superbadges.
While you may be familiar with Trailhead badges, Superbadges test your ability to take what you’ve learned and apply it to advanced, real-life business scenarios. While your level of knowledge may be high, it’s only when you demonstrate this knowledge by attaining four Trailhead Superbadges that you’ll be entitled to certification. Those Superbadges are as follows:
After completing these three, you will unlock…
That’s a lot of work already, but don’t forget about the multiple-choice exam! These tests can be notoriously gruelling, which is why you are allowed 120 minutes to complete the 60-question exam, where the pass mark is 63%. Registration fee for this test is $200 and it can be retaken for $100 if you are unsuccessful on your first attempt.
As previously mentioned, with Force certifications being retired in March 2018, Salesforce professionals have the opportunity to transition their certification to the new structure, for only a fraction of the cost and the work than if they were starting from scratch.
The transition exam consists of a condensed version of the standard certification exam (10–20 questions as opposed to 60 questions) and the pricing depends on your current certification. If you already hold, or are in the process of earning, a Force Advanced Developer certification, you can register for both Platform Developer exams for free, and take them at any time up until the retirement date (March 30, 2018).
It is highly recommended you take advantage of this cheaper, less laborious route towards these new certifications before the expiry date. Firstly, because your old certifications will expire and you will be left without any recognized certifications to your name. Secondly, because the time and money you will save presents a unique opportunity that should not be passed up.
With Salesforce being such an all-encompassing, adaptive platform, it’s often a good idea to explore certification in other areas, particularly for a role as complex as a developer. According to David Liu, an accomplished Salesforce Technical Architect and mind behind the SFDC99 blog, all Salesforce professionals should hold these five core certifications, regardless of your role:
The idea is that these certifications will enable you to explore all key aspects of the Salesforce platform, giving you a fantastic base on which to become an expert by exploring more-refined certifications routes. You should check out our detailed guide on how to become Salesforce Administrator certified, for an idea of whether this route is right for you.
Salesforce is always looking for ways to make its examination process as simple as possible for the professional. Conveniently, registration for all Salesforce Developer Certification exams is available online, and you have the choice of where you take the exam, depending on your location.
Salesforce’s partnership with Kryterion allows you to take your certification exam at any number of testing centers around the world. It is recommended that you register for the exam a couple of weeks in advance to ensure your preferred date and time. These testing centers are found in most major cities across the globe, so hopefully you’re never too far from one.
Even more convenient is the online proctored exam, which enables you to take your certification test from the comfort of your own home. During the exam, an invigilator will monitor you through your webcam, as well as be able to view your computer screen. You will have to download specific software to allow this, but given that you can register and take this exam on the same day, this is hardly an inconvenience.
Of course, taking the exam is one thing; studying for it is another. Just like a professional athlete, nobody sees the countless hours of work you put in during training, all they see is the final result. And make no mistake, you will have to put the work in as these certification exams are not easy.
Luckily, there is a fantastic range of training and learning resources out there to help you on your way. While some of them are pricier than others, and some require a greater time investment, the following resources — particularly those approved by Salesforce — contain everything you need to know to become Salesforce Developer certified.
Salesforce Trailhead is a free online learning platform that guides you through all things Salesforce. Constructed through modules, you can work your way through specific ‘trails’ to learn about different topics in fine detail. As you complete modules, you are awarded badges that can be collected and shared to showcase your knowledge. While this is great for being part of the Salesforce community, the real reward for completing these trails is the knowledge you will retain.
Although Trailhead is unlikely to suffice as your primary point of study towards your certification, it’s a great starting point and/or top-up tool. It can also be a very useful study outlet when you’re strapped for time, have a limited budget, or are struggling to concentrate after a long day — the training is designed to be fun and engaging, which always aids learning.
If you’re new to the platform, check out this introduction to Trailhead, or take a closer look at this specialist training by working through the following Salesforce Developer Certification trailmixes:
Salesforce Developer career builder trailmix — this collection of Salesforce Developer modules is separated into beginner, intermediate, and advanced skill levels, and contains over 53 hours of training.
Platform Developer I trailmix — while this is the first level of Platform Developer certification, the examination is by no means easy. This curation of resources will form a fantastic starting point for your studies.
Platform Developer II trailmix — with nearly 86 hours of training, this trailmix contains a huge amount of insight into the Platform Developer certification exam. It also contains the Superbadges that are required to eventually attain the credential.
Specific exam resources
There is a combination of self-study and instructor-led training available via the Xchange Community, with the following courses recommended in preparation for the Commerce Cloud Digital Developer Certification exam:
The following factsheets are particularly useful for those studying towards Certified Platform Developer I:
WIth Certified Platform Developer II being so technical, we would highly recommend working through the huge trailmix listed above. The following resources will also help deepen your understanding:
The ecosystem behind Salesforce is what truly makes the platform excel. The Salesforce bloggers and experts that make up the Salesforce Ohana are always open to helping their peers succeed. Whether you’re brand new to Salesforce or are looking for advice and encouragement on any aspect of your career, the Ohana is there to help.
#AskForce is used on Twitter to propose questions which are, in turn, answered by the community of experts. This is a really handy way of getting your questions answered quickly, and there’s usually someone on hand to help. If you’re working on a particular topic related to your certification, don’t hesitate to reach out using the #AskForce hashtag.
Salesforce also offers a glossary of important terms for developers. Use this throughout your studies as a reference guide. This is a great tool to have in general throughout your Salesforce career.
It can never be known for certain what will crop up on your certification exam (that would defeat the object of an exam, wouldn’t it?) but using guidance from Salesforce and examination questions from the past, we can at least predict what you should focus your studies on if you want to succeed.
Salesforce takes steps to help users of its technology, and this includes providing a rough outline of the modules that will be included on the exam, as well as their overall weighting in the test. This is very useful to know, as it allows you to prioritise your time on modules that hold greater weighting. For your convenience, we have broken down this information for you:
Commerce Cloud certification exam outline
|Environment setup||9%||Digital architecture||14%|
|Data management/business manager usage||21%||Application development||56%|
Certified Platform Developer I exam outline
|Salesforce fundamentals||10%||Data modelling and management||7%|
|Logic and process automation||46%||User interface||10%|
|Testing||12%||Debug and deployment tools||10%|
Certified Platform Developer II exam outline
|Salesforce fundamentals||5%||Data modelling and management||7%|
|Logic and process automation||33%||User interface||20%|
|Testing||12%||Debug and deployment tool||5%|
Make no mistake that thorough studying is the best way to prepare for Salesforce certification. Having said that, it does no harm to take a look at the type of questions you will be asked on your exam. Exam dumps are large volumes of historic exam questions that are collected by the wider community for analysis. Even if these questions don’t crop up again, you can at least get used to the structure and tone so that you go into the exam knowing what to expect.
Studying old or mock exam questions is one thing, but it’s also important to practice taking your test under exam conditions — in silence, with no points of reference throughout the duration of the exam. This practice test at Simplilearn not only contains accurate exam questions but also features a timer that will track how long you are taking.
There is also a huge number of practice exam questions available here at Exam-Labs. You will need to create an account, but registration is free and there are practice exam questions for many different Salesforce certification routes, should you wish to pursue any other credentials.
For a more relaxed approach to answering exam questions, you may benefit from using flashcards. This will allow you to spread your exam practice out over the course of your day as opposed to cramming all of your studies into your free time after work. Try the following resources for Salesforce Developer flashcards: Salesforce Platform Developer I / Salesforce Platform Developer II / Generic Salesforce Developer flashcards
You’ve selected the appropriate certification and you’ve deemed you have the experience to start preparing, so now it’s time to think about what steps you will put into place in order to pass.
While we’ve shared insight on what to study, deciding how to study can be difficult. Everyone has different learning styles and finds success in exams through different preparation.
If you’ve recently been in full-time education, you might be well aware of how to approach your study plan. If you need a little help, however, the tips below are a collection of ideas that you could adopt to help with time management and stress control.
Before you do anything else, you should outline when you want to sit your exam. Once you have a structured timeline you can begin to consider how you’ll integrate a sound study plan into your busy life.
Having a concrete date to study towards will help you stay motivated. Make sure you consider how many hours Salesforce suggests you spend studying towards the certification, the weighting of each section, and how proficient you already are in this module to inform how much time you dedicate to each section.
Agile is a project management method typically used by developers to complete projects. It involves breaking down a project into small, manageable increments spread over weekly tasks. Although this principle is normally used within an organization to manage work and changing client needs, it can be a very powerful tool for managing time in general.
To make agile work for your Salesforce Developer certification exam, break down how many weeks you have until your exam. Then consider how many hours you can truly dedicate to your studies. Be very realistic.
Once you have a set amount of weeks and the number of hours you can spend per week, map out what tasks or areas of study you need to focus on each week. Every week, as you complete the assigned tasks, transfer anything that you missed or need to place greater focus on to the following week. This way, you’re constantly evaluating whether you’re on track.
It’s really important to be sensible with your goals. It’s more than likely that you’re thinking of certifications while you’re working or balancing a family life, so don’t be too ambitious when setting a date to take your exam. Failing your certification exam because you are ill-prepared will not only demotivate you but potentially create a setback in your career, not to mention the additional expense of retaking the test.
If you do fail, try not to take it heart. These exams can be very tricky, but with good reason — if they weren’t, everybody would be Salesforce certified and the job market but would oversaturated. Remember that you always have the option to retake your exam. Even if you do have to shell out another $100, this will be a fraction of the amount you’ll go on to earn when you eventually become certified. If you’re currently preparing to retake an exam or are worried about your success, take some time to look through other people’s journey to becoming certified. Sometimes success doesn’t come at the first time of asking.
Before you begin your journey to becoming certified, it’s helpful to consider what you’ll gain from the experience and how you can get the greatest return on investment in your career.
There is no prescribed ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ number of certifications a Salesforce Developer should have. Your certifications are gained to prove to employers and clients alike that you are an expert in your field, as well as to solidify your own knowledge.
If it’s just about ticking certifications off your list, you’re approaching the qualifications wrong. It’s important to obtain these after the appropriate level of experience, when you feel they could take your career development to the next level. As Salesforce Developer MVP Keir Bowden states, some people focus on “passing exams rather than learning about and gaining experience with an area of Salesforce”. This testing process will ensure your knowledge is tested against real-world cases; cramming for the exam simply to pass is not a good approach.
Once you have successfully passed your certification exam, be sure to display your accreditation across your social media, LinkedIn, blog, resume, or anywhere you can showcase your achievement.
As a Salesforce Developer you have three different certification tracks, two of which can be gained by passing an exam but the third requires Trailhead Superbadge as a prerequisite.
There are three separate exams, each with varying levels of difficulty. The pass mark for each exam deviates between 63% and 70% — Salesforce sets a high passing grade to ensure that only experts become certified.
While certification carries great potential in terms of salary increase, the initial cost for certification exams isn’t too great. There is a $200 registration fee for certification exams, with an additional $100 fee for potential retakes, meaning it won’t cost you a fortune if your first attempt isn’t successful.
We wish anyone looking to become certified the best of luck, and don’t hesitate to contact us for advice. Take a look at our certification guide for Administrators for further insight into that path, and if you are a certified Salesforce Developer, feel free to leave us a comment with your best certification tips.
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