How To Get Started And Certified As A Salesforce Admin

Just as you need to be a certified driver to safely and effectively travel on the roads of the world, you need to be certified to run the complexities of the Salesforce ecosystem.

How To Get Started And Certified As A Salesforce Admin
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Article Highlights

  • The article describes the role of a Salesforce administrator as someone with a broad knowledge of Salesforce CRM products, responsible for process automations, data organization, and training employees to use Salesforce efficiently.
  • It emphasizes the importance of the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam for individuals looking to validate their practical experience and knowledge of the Salesforce platform, which also serves as a prerequisite for advanced certifications.
  • A Salesforce admin’s duties include managing user profiles and access, importing data, designing reporting processes, running maintenance tools, and optimizing sales and marketing processes to maximize efficiency and productivity.

If you’re considering starting out as a Salesforce admin as part of your career goals (or you are an uncertified admin), and you’d like to get that ‘gold star’ certification behind your name, look no further!

Who is a Salesforce administrator?

A Salesforce administrator is an individual who has the experience and thorough, broad knowledge of working with Salesforce's CRM products.

A Salesforce admin is an individual who possesses a deep understanding of how the company operates, how it’s interlaced in making all departments efficient through process automations, and how this knowledge thus plays an integral part in running a smooth and lean business.

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Salesforce administrators are responsible for answering queries related to development processes, organizing data, executing reports, and training other employees on how to use Salesforce efficiently.

In addition, admins can create useful tools in any organization – like informative dashboards, intelligent Workflows, and apps for some projects. Simply put, they possess a thorough knowledge of Salesforce and hands-on knowledge of its secondary products, services by Salesforce, and other third-party providers that are available for the platform.

Salesforce admins work hard with a motive to reduce any inefficiency and achieve better productivity from the team. Admins help keep Salesforce users well-trained and updated with the platform to handle complicated problems in the project and keep pushing the project in a forward direction.

Now, as organizations rely more on data and analytics for everything related to sales and marketing to planning and customer management, Salesforce administrators remain in demand in almost all industries, from the software industry to banking or healthcare to the entertainment industry.

Who is an ideal candidate?

For anyone looking to start a career in the Salesforce world, the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam is the best way to prove that you have relevant practical experience (or professional experience) and knowledge of the Salesforce platform.

It is also perfect for ‘newbie admins’ or anyone already working as a Salesforce admin (without certification).

If you are a Salesforce certified administrator, it will give employers a sense of confidence that you will be able to maintain, administer, and extend the Salesforce platform by utilizing the custom functionalities available on the Force.com platform.

The Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam also acts as a prerequisite for many other Salesforce certification exams, so it is advised to understand the basics of this certification first before moving to other certification goals that are more advanced.

Skills required to be a Salesforce administrator

Salesforce administrators should be able to utilize their knowledge and experience of Salesforce to guide user adoption and generate a better return on investment in implementing Salesforce solutions.

An admin can be anyone, but some essential qualities would be helpful before diving into the role:

  • Good communication skills help work across the company and enable user adoption. It will also help a person share ideas and viewpoints effectively with users.
  • A person should be able to build reports and dashboards and work with Salesforce Flow.
  • An admin should be able to analyze data and handle data sharing and security.
  • An innovative approach and open-mindedness to learn any new concept or functionality anytime.

What does a Salesforce administrator do?

Since Salesforce, as a platform, can be used in multiple ways, the role that a Salesforce administrator plays will differ from organization to organization and industry.

However, there are some responsibilities that a typical Salesforce administrator handles while working in an organization.

User profiles and their access levels

Salesforce administrators are responsible for the safety of an organization's data, which might include some critical information related to sales and marketing, products and services, customer demographics, and purchases.

Admins can create user accounts and assign access levels based on organizational roles and responsibilities. It usually includes onboarding newly hired employees who require some access to Salesforce.

Furthermore, Salesforce admins are responsible for handling off-boarding and removing access of former employees and others who no longer need to use Salesforce.

Import new leads and data

Since users add leads and other data to Salesforce from time to time in the real world, administrators must develop standards for these processes and newly added data to ensure data consistency across the organization without affecting the existing solution.

Design and develop processes for reporting

Salesforce administrators are experts in CRM data management because organizations depend heavily on them to keep their data clean and organized. Salesforce admins must also access the data to support training efforts and justify business decisions.

Setup and run different tools

Over a long period, contact data and user behavior can be replicated by users because of reasons such as web form submissions and imported lists. This means that Salesforce admins are responsible for running duplication tools to clean the data and remove duplicate records.

The frequency at which an admin needs to perform this task will vary depending on the organization's tools and their needs.

Some operate automatically in real-time, while others are triggered at a fixed interval to keep Salesforce running at its full capacity.

Updates in the sandbox

Salesforce is designed to update regularly and automatically. However, some of the best admins adopt the practice of proactively testing and installing these updates in a sandbox to familiarize themselves with the changes.

They also explore the newly added functionalities' capabilities before updates go live. This practice usually helps ensure that the organization's data stays as secure as possible and that Salesforce runs at full capacity.

Run maintenance reports

Another duty of a Salesforce administrator is executing tests and reports to ensure that the database remains in an efficient working state. Some of these tests and reports might even include field utilizations, Apex tests, role and profile-specific reports, and other industry-specific reports per the requirement.

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The Salesforce administrator's system knowledge and access to data make them a most demanded resource for these kinds of tasks. They can also automate the tests and reports when needed.

Solve issues and challenges as they arise

When new issues arise with Salesforce, the admin is responsible for figuring out what is happening and finding a fix according to its root cause. This is so that complete solutions are not affected.

In addition, admins are also responsible for training and guiding old and newly added employees on updates, changes, and processes. They might also conduct surveys from users and management to get new ideas and plan, build, test, and execute them into real-world working solutions.

Optimization of the processes

Salesforce is a powerful tool generally used for sales and marketing. If used effectively, it can produce astonishing results.

To ensure that an organization utilizes the application's functionalities to its limit, admins are responsible for developing contact sequences and A/B tests, designing processes for data entry automation, and making reports to check the efficiency of sales and marketing initiatives. Then, according to the reports and analysis, admins will optimize these processes to make them even more effective.

Special responsibilities

Salesforce is used by different organizations in different industries, indicating its potential to handle diverse tasks. For instance, an admin in the medical industry must acquire knowledge of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) data protection requirements and their Salesforce expertise.

Other sectors also have specialized requirements, so a good admin must understand both Salesforce and industry-specific requirements to handle users' needs effectively.

At the end of the day, hiring managers and other HR experts will maintain up-to-date lists of the skill sets and expertise that Salesforce admins must have. However, it is not easy to separate candidates with in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience from candidates with little experience.

To address this problem, Salesforce has created a set of certifications that effectively measure an administrator's knowledge and experience with the platform.

And here's the catch: these are more challenging certifications to complete. In addition, each certification requires thorough studying and work to master the relevant skills.

How to become a Salesforce admin?

To become an administrator, a person does not need any prior knowledge or experience with the Salesforce platform.

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To become a certified admin, you need only a reliable internet connection and a laptop or computer to start your career.

To start working as a Salesforce admin, the first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the platform and its basic workings.

The Salesforce Administrator Certification exam is conducted via Salesforce Trailhead. The Salesforce Trailhead platform is the first stop for Salesforce's official training resources, documentation, and many Salesforce exams.

It is a user-friendly platform that contains course modules and other learning materials and tools that a person can use to better understand the concepts while preparing for the actual exam.

However, these tools alone might not be enough to prepare and pass the exam, especially when someone is new to the Salesforce environment. As a result of this situation, many new candidates end up signing up for more comprehensive Salesforce administrator programs. These courses comprise interactive projects, personalized feedback from professionals, and career support.

When looking for a Salesforce administrator certificate program, you should select the program that Salesforce consultants created in collaboration with Salesforce Trailhead.

The Salesforce administrator certification exam pattern

The Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam is designed to measure the individual's knowledge and skills related to various features and functionalities of the platform. The test contains several topics with defined weightings:

  • 20% of the questions are related to configuration and setup.
  • 20% of the questions are related to object manager and Lightning App Builder.
  • 12% of the questions are related to sales and marketing applications.
  • 11% of the questions are related to service and support applications.
  • 7% of the questions are about productivity and collaboration.
  • 14% of the questions are from data and analytics management.
  • Lastly, 6% of the remaining questions are from Workflow and process automation.
To pass the exam, you must correctly answer 65% of the questions within the 105-minute time frame.

Hence, it is advised to dedicate most of your time and efforts to the topics that make up the larger portion of questions to improve the chances of scoring high.

In simple terms, you should not spend the same amount of time studying productivity and collaboration (only 7% of the exam) as you spend learning about the object manager and Lightning App Builder (which is 20% of the exam).

Salesforce offers both in-person and online exam options. If you’re taking the exam online, you will need to download software that sets up your machine for taking the exam and allows the proctor to see your screen as you attempt it.

Salesforce administrator certifications

Salesforce offers four basic certifications designed for Salesforce administrators. Getting certified for any of them would demonstrate that you have mastered specific skills and have knowledge of the Salesforce platform.

In addition, getting one or more of these certifications indicates that you have the skills and knowledge to support an organization's Salesforce solution.

Salesforce Certified Administrator (SCA)

The Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam is the first step many professionals take to start their journey in Salesforce administration. It is a good choice for individuals who have experience with the Salesforce platform and want to help organizations get the most out of their CRM software.

Individuals who pass this certification can apply for Salesforce administrator jobs in different organizations. To earn this certification, a person must have:

  • Good knowledge of the platform's processes and capabilities.
  • Understand different cloud apps, such as Sales Cloud and Service Cloud apps.
  • Must know how to design advanced reports and dashboards and automate business processes using Salesforce.
  • Admins should know how to create custom configurations, utilize various platform apps, and create a good end-user experience.

Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator (SCAA)

The Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator Exam is designed for professionals with significant experience working as admins who want to take their skills to another level.

It will require a lot of hands-on experience implementing the core concepts of Salesforce administration. These candidates should be able to:

  • Define record and field data access.
  • Create custom objects inside the platform.
  • Have an understanding of Salesforce's forecasting capabilities.
  • Configure Salesforce apps.
  • Move data between different environments and effectively use dynamic dashboards and dashboard filters when required.
An advanced administrator candidate should be able to demonstrate expertise in the entire set of Salesforce features.

They should be able to utilize all the functionalities of Salesforce to solve complex problems for their organization.

CPQ Specialist

This certification is best suited for candidates with decent experience working with the Salesforce CPQ software. Salesforce CPQ (“configure,” “price,” and “quote”) is a sales tool within Salesforce that helps administrators provide accurate pricing of their organization’s products.

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This certificate will help administrators showcase their capabilities while designing, developing, and implementing workflows for product price configuration. 

Administrators with this certification can help their organizations earn the trust of their clients with better estimation and pricing processes.

Platform app builder

Some organizations require customized applications within the Salesforce platform. In this situation, Platform App Builder certification helps administrators prove their skills and ability to design and develop custom apps inside the Salesforce platform with the customization capabilities of Salesforce.

Resources to help you in your preparation

If you look for web resources, they can help you prepare and pass the various Salesforce certifications. However, if you want to learn from genuine and trusted sources, the following resources will help you.

Salesforce.com

This is the starting point and home for all Salesforce-related certification resources. Here, you can find official information about the platform and certification.

Trailhead

This is Salesforce's training resource for Salesforce programs. Here, you can find training modules, community discussions, learning process paths, and more to help you better understand Salesforce certifications.

Salesforce admin YouTube channel

Another official yet widespread training resource that many people turn to, as it has vast videos of concepts, is Salesforce's official YouTube channel. You will find much information from industry experts who offer expert insights. However, since the information targets a larger audience, it might not be useful for the exam you must take.

Practice test

To get a rough idea of the test's topics and pattern, you can go through the practice exams or a mock test provided by Salesforce. You can take a timed version (where you won’t be given extra time) that mimics the actual test or an untimed version that gives you more time to go through the test thoroughly. This process will allow you to become exam-ready.

Pluralsight

This tech-industry training resource is an online learning platform with 15 in-depth additional learning courses designed to help a person learn about the Salesforce platform and prepare them for the certification exam format. They also offer bite-sized learning.

Exam strategy

Whenever you feel that you are ready with your preparation and confident enough to take the exam and its real questions, go to Trailhead, choose the respective role you want, and register by clicking "Schedule Now." Then, follow the next steps to schedule your exam. Here are some of the tips that might help you in your exam for Salesforce certifications:

  • Firstly, if there is any concept you feel unconfident in, just go through that topic once before taking the exam. It will not only stay in your mind for some time, but this process will clear a sense of fear from your mind before the exam.
  • Go through each question thoroughly in the exam before answering it. If you need to, use the pen and paper provided (when giving an exam in person in a testing center) to help you visualize the answer better. For scenario-based questions, clues will be provided to get the correct answer; you just need to observe them carefully.
  • Try to use the elimination method to erase incorrect answers. Salesforce usually likes to throw in answers that are made up of features. You can find answers by focusing on standard Salesforce concepts and features.

What happens after the exam?

Finishing the exam guide and earning a certification is not the end of the road. Salesforce is continuously updating itself, so it's important to keep yourself and your Salesforce admin certification updated.

Salesforce will notify you before your certificate is about to expire, so you can schedule a slot to retake the exam.

You are ready to get certified

The Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam is necessary for all individuals who want to start their Salesforce journey by undergoing the certification process.

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It will give you and your employers the confidence that you can successfully and responsibly work with Salesforce.

Once you get this certification, you will be confident enough to continue learning Salesforce.

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