Understanding the different Salesforce Certification Pathways
If you consider yourself to be part of the Salesforce ecosystem, you likely have some level of awareness about the different certifications that Salesforce offers, especially given that they have been releasing new options as of late. With such a high number of certifications each requiring studying and dedication to achieve, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide on a personal roadmap.
The good news is, as with anything Salesforce related, you are not alone! Salesforce itself buckets their certifications into six different groups based on the role of the individual looking to get certified:
You can find the specific details about which certifications fit in which category here, but we are going to focus on what might work for you based on your own individual desires for your Salesforce career.
Where do you want to go?
One of the most critical questions to answer before aimlessly amassing certifications is determining what you want your end goal to be. Yes, folks like to throw around the adage “get better every day”, but not every person aspires to be the next Marc Benioff. If you really enjoy performing the duties of an Administrator, depending on the products your company utilizes or that you support, you may never need more than a single Administrator certification.
Yes, you read that correctly. There is no sense in spending time and resources on certifications if you are not targeting personal knowledge gain, solution exploration, or a different role. Even the Advanced Administrator certification (at the time of this writing) is fairly focused on niche features that your Salesforce org may or may not use.
That said, the Platform App Builder and relatively new User Experience Designer certifications are generally useful and recommended for all Salesforce roles (other than those that exclusively support Marketing Cloud or Pardot). Additionally, when you might be/are supporting specific tools like CPQ, you might want to go after the CPQ Specialist cert. If your company or clients are typically tilted one way toward Sales Cloud or Service Cloud, an Administrator will likely benefit from one or both of those certifications, even though they are dubbed “Consultant” certifications.
If, on the flip side, you are viewing your Administrator role as a stepping stone into consulting, design, or architecture, you will want to continue reading!
Consultants, Designers, & Architects
For what are generally considered to be more advanced or complex roles within the Salesforce world, you will generally be expected to have additional expertise beyond general platform administration. As of this article the only Designer certification offered is the User Experience Designer, which will be table stakes for a position focused on design.
For Consultant certifications (of which there are more than any other category), you will have to be the most targeted and avoid the distraction of trying to “catch ‘em all”. With the vast array of products offered by Salesforce and the industry trend of specialization, it is incredibly difficult to be a master of all, and you likely will lose opportunities to those that have depth of knowledge in one area as opposed to a breadth of knowledge. Put simply, an absolute pro at Field Service is likely not going to be able to offer the same quality of consulting services to an Education Cloud subscriber. Maybe you are a more general consultant and getting certified in Sales, Service, and Experience Clouds is the right answer. Maybe you do not even need all three to support your clients with excellence. If you do have a desire to specialize, get the certification for your specialization and do not feel pressured to get certified in other specialties unless you are interested in the product or are planning to really invest in doing projects that involve the subject matter.
For Architects, the big question to answer is, “Am I a Technical Architect or not?” If your background is generally in tech even outside of Salesforce (development, other technical projects, etc.), the answer is likely yes, and you would likely benefit from shooting for the Certified Technical Architect certification and all its prerequisites, but this is only recommended if you see yourself working with Salesforce for the long haul as the commitment of time and resources is larger than any other certification. If your background is more business related, you probably fit more into the Solution Architect category and should pursue the Application Architect certification and its prerequisites, as well as the applicable and relatively new B2B/B2C Solution Architect certifications depending on the types of project(s) you are leading. Both Technical and Solution Architects will also benefit from any of the Consulting certifications, as they cover topics in which an architect will be expected to have expertise.
Developers & Marketers
While it might be strange to combine the Developer and Marketing roles into a single topic, they are together because they are probably the two most isolated roles within the Salesforce ecosystem.
For Marketers, the certification path is about as straightforward as Administrators and Developers. If you will be supporting Marketing Cloud, obtain the related 2-3 certifications. If you will be supporting Pardot, there are 2 separate certifications for that!