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7 Salesforce certifications that will advance your career

7 Salesforce certifications that will advance your career

Salesforce certifications are a great way for you to prove your competencies in one of the hottest skills out there. CIO.com breaks down seven of the most valuable Salesforce certifications so you can choose which one's right for you.

Salesforce is one of the fastest-growing, most in-demand skillsets out there. From software developers, solutions architects and designers to project managers and marketing and sales professionals, it's a skill that almost every professional can benefit from.

If you're looking to leverage your Salesforce skills to land a new job or secure a promotion, certifications are a great way to prove your competency and boost your paycheck, says, Meagan Humphrey, director of sales operations, IT recruiting and staffing firm Mondo.

"Salesforce certifications offer three big value adds: they increase your marketability in a tight IT job market by allowing you to become a subject matter expert. They offer flexibility in that you can get certified in just a few hours, days or months and you can control your own career path. You can get just one or a bunch of certifications. And the more certifications you add, the higher salary or hourly rate you can command," Humphrey says.

Salesforce skills can be categorized as either technical - architects, developers, implementation experts - or marketing and sales related - marketing and sales cloud specialists. Here, we've compiled a list of available Salesforce technical certifications, exam statistics, prerequisites and costs to help you navigate the best education and certification path for your career.

1. Administrator Track

Salesforce offers two levels of administrator credentials: Certified Administrator and Certified Advanced Administrator. Both certifications are for professionals who focus on administrative functions of an existing Salesforce solution, including defining user requirements, customizing the Salesforce platform for the unique needs of each implementation and helping users to get the most out of the solutions.

Salesforce Certified Administrator

The Salesforce Certified Administrator Credential is for candidates with extensive knowledge of Salesforce customization and configuration who also are skilled at managing users and exploring how to get the most out of the platforms capabilities.

To pass the exam, you'll need to know how to do the following:

  • Manage users, data, and security
  • Maintain and customize Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications
  • Build reports, dashboards, and workflows

Exam stats:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 65 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

No prerequisites are required, but Salesforce recommends taking the Administration Essentials for New Admins (ADM 201) and Administration Essentials for New Administrators and Certification (ADM 201C) courses and the online course Preparing for Your Salesforce Administrator Certification (CRT-101).

Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator

The Advanced Administrator designation takes the skills and knowledge of the Salesforce Certified Administrator to the next level. Candidates should have experience using the advanced administration capabilities in Salesforce and be highly proficient in designing advanced reports, dashboards and automation processes.

To pass the exam, you'll need to achieve the following:

  • Leverage the advanced administration capabilities of Salesforce.
  • Optimize and extend Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications.
  • Design advanced reports, dashboards, and business process automation.

Exam stats:

  • 63 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 65 perent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

Prerequisite: Current status as a Salesforce Certified Administrator; and Salesforce recommends completing the Administration Essentials for Experienced Admins (ADM-211) course in advance.

[ Related story: 6 soft skills employers should be looking for in tech talent ]

2. Application builders

This certification is for Salesforce professionals who design, build and implement custom applications on the Salesforce platform. This certification requires a more programming- and engineering-minded skillset than the Certified Administrator track.

Salesforce Certified Platform Application Builder

The Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder credential requires candidates to prove they have the skills and knowledge to design, build and implement custom applications on the Force.com platform. This skillset involves extensive knowledge of the declarative development and customization functions available on the platform, according to Salesforce.

To pass the exam, you need to know how to do the following:

  • Design the data model, user interface, business logic and security for custom applications
  • Customize applications for mobile use
  • Design reports and dashboards
  • Deploy custom applications

Exam stats:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes to complete the exam
  • 65 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

No prerequisites are required, however, Salesforce recommends completing the Declarative Development for Platform App Builders (DEV402) course in advance.

3. Architects

Salesforce-certified architect credentials are comprised of three tiers of certification: Architecture Designers, Doman Architects and Technical Architects.

Architecture Designers are certified as either Application architects or System architects. Domain Architects are certified based on their knowledge and expertise in one or multiple domain specializations, each of which has its own exam. The available domain specializations are: Data Architecture and Management; Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer; Identity and Access Management Designer; Integration Architecture Designer; Mobile Solutions Architecture Designer; Sharing and Visibility Designer. Salesforce Certified Technical Architects demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and capabilities across all available domains.

[ Related story: How microcertifications work for IT job seekers and employers ]

4. The Salesforce Certified Application Architect

This certification requires candidates to have deep understanding of native Salesforce features and functionality, as well as the ability to model a role hierarchy, data model, and appropriate sharing mechanisms, according to Salesforce.

There are several prerequisites for this certification, including achieving certain domain certifications. Each domain specialization certification has its own associated exam. The required specializations for becoming a Salesforce Certified Application Architect are the following:

5. The Salesforce Certified System Architect

The certification emphasizes system testing, governance and integration with external systems within an organization's infrastructure, according to Salesforce.

The Certified System Architect certification also has domain specialization prerequisite certifications. Each domain specialization certification has its own associated exam. The required specializations for becoming a Salesforce Certified System Architect are:

[ Related story: Salesforce skills in high demand in 2017 ]

6. The Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)

This architect certification is the elite credential of the Salesforce Architect certification ecosystem, and requires a significant investment of time, energy and money. To achieve this certification, candidates need extensive experience, technical breadth and depth, presentation skills and the ability to synthesize Salesforce solutions that span the entire platform, according to Salesforce.

The Salesforce Certified Technical Architect possesses broad knowledge across multiple development platforms and has achieved certification in all specialized domains. The CTA certification draws on candidates' extensive skills and experience to assess customer requirements and architecture in order to design secure, high-performance technical solutions, according to Salesforce.

The CTA certification has extensive prerequisites:

Once you have achieved the prerequisites, you will be qualified to take the Salesforce Certified Technical Architect Certification Review Board Exam. To pass this exam, you'll be required to design a recommended architecture solution based on a fictional client and hypothetical customer requirements. You will be asked to explain and justify why and how you built your solution.

7. Platform developers

There are two tiers in this certification: Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I and Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II. These credentials are for professionals with knowledge, skills and experience building custom declarative and programmatic applications on the Force.com platform, according to Salesforce.

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I credential requires candidates to have the knowledge, skills and experience to build custom declarative and programmatic applications on the Force.com platform, according to Salesforce.

To pass the exam, you need to know how to do the following:

  • Design the data model, user interface, business logic, and security for custom applications
  • Develop custom applications using Apex and Visualforce
  • Be familiar with the development lifecycle from development to testing, and have knowledge of the available environments

Exam stats:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 105 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 68 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

No prerequisites; however, Salesforce recommends taking the Programmatic Development Using Apex and Visualforce (DEV 450) course in advance

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II requires candidates to be experts in the advanced programmatic capabilities of the Force.com platform and data modeling so they can develop complex business logic and interfaces on the platform, according to Salesforce.

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II credential has three components; a multiple-choice exam, a programming assignment and an essay exam. You must pass the multiple-choice exam before you can move on to the programming assignment.

To pass the exam, you must know how to do the following:

  • Design, develop, test and deploy easily maintainable, robust and reusable programmatic solutions
  • Follow Apex design patterns and object-oriented programming best practices

Exam stats:

  • Multiple-choice Exam:60 multiple-choice questions
  • 120 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 63 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $400
  • Retake fee is $200
  • No hard-copy or online materials may be referenced during the exam

Prerequisite: Current status as a Salesforce Certified Platform

Developer I

Programming Assignment:

  • Candidates must use Apex and Visualforce to create application components based on a set of preconfigured business requirements.
  • Candidates have 30 days to complete the Programming Assignment; test-takers should plan to spend a minimum of 20 hours to complete it, according to Salesforce.
  • Successful completion of the Certified Platform Developer II multiple-choice exam is a prerequisite.

Essay Exam:
The exam consists of three essay questions related to the programming assignment solution; Salesforce says no additional study materials or preparation is required for candidates. Sixty minutes is allotted to complete the exam in a proctored environment.

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