Salesforce Certifications: How They Break Down, What They Cost

Should you answer Salesforce certifications? If you work with customer relationship software (CRM) and/or build enterprise applications that focus on customer service, chances are very good that you’ll interact with Salesforce software at some juncture.

More to the point, companies that rely heavily on the software need Salesforce developers who are skilled in the company’s technology, and they often want certifications as proof that you have those skills. 

True, some developers don’t find CRM as exciting as other software channels. But for many companies, the technology is foundational, and Salesforce is notable for how it put such tools in the cloud. Perhaps that’s why Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, has estimated that Salesforce/CRM developer jobs will grow 30.7 percent over the next decade; already, the average time to fill such positions is 35 days, suggesting a high level of demand. 

Moreover, Salesforce jobs are pretty lucrative, with a median salary of $91,175. The vast majority of these jobs require a bachelor’s degree; with more experience comes higher pay. 

(As an aside: Getting a job at Salesforce as a software engineer can also translate into a sizable paycheck. According to crowdsourced compensation data available via levels.fyi, an associate MTS (Member of Technical Staff) at Salesforce itself can earn an average salary of $117,889, coupled with stock options worth $19,667 per year, and a bonus of $11,778; one level higher, a “basic” MTS pulls down $137,125, along with annual stock options worth roughly $23,708, and a bonus of around $15,375.)

Here are the certifications that tend to pop up in job postings for Salesforce developers, according to Burning Glass:  

Which brings us to a key question…

How many Salesforce certifications are there?

On its Trailhead learning platform, Salesforce boasts credentials (which the company treats as synonymous with certifications, with additional and highly specialized certifications) in five categories: Salesforce Consultant, Salesforce Marketer, Salesforce Developer, Salesforce Architect, and Salesforce Administrator. 

The two tech-specific categories—architect and developer—have nine of those credentials. The architect pathway, for example, leads from specializations (such as Platform Developer I) up through application architect or system architect to technical architect. There’s a lot of granularity here, but then again, Salesforce is a pretty substantial platform.  

But that’s not the full list of certification/credentials on offer from Salesforce; let’s look at a comprehensive list in the context of cost…

How much does it cost to get these certifications?

Fortunately, Salesforce is pretty open about how much it costs to register for (and to retake). Fortunately, Trailhead offers plenty of documentation to study before you take an exam itself. 

If you want a quick walkthrough of how one developer navigated the mock tests and other materials, check out this Medium article.

How do you get a Salesforce certification?

While most certification programs offer online-only programs, Salesforce is different—there are actual in-person classes. (We should note that, since COVID-19 is forcing us all to stay put, Salesforce’s calendar of review events shows those scheduled this summer as ‘postponed’—but under normal circumstances, there is real-world instruction.)

Actually earning a certification can prove an intensive process, depending on which one you’re trying to earn. “Some certifications require a multiple-choice test which you can either take online or at a physical testing center,” said Sunny Ashley, CEO of CRM tool autoshopinvoice. “On the other hand, the Technical Architect certification requires multiple pre-requisite certifications, a separate certification test, and then a presentation and live face-to-face interview with a Review Board panel.”

Should you get a Salesforce certification?

If you’re going to make a career focusing on any platform or technology, and there’s a certification for it, the short answer is “yes.” You should, at the very least, strongly consider how certifications can help you land a job in a tight hiring market. “Salesforce certifications are a way to bolster your résumé, and some hiring managers use certain certifications as prerequisites for hiring specific positions,” Ashley noted.

Like all certifications, those issued by Salesforce expire, and require you to update your skillset on a periodic basis. This is an added expense, making your Salesforce certification more like a subscription. But they can matter.