How to Study for and PASS the Salesforce Certified Admin Exam

To many employers, certifications are the only way to truly determine that a candidate possess the skills listed on their resume without going through an incredibly lengthy vetting process. Thankfully, Salesforce offers multiple levels of certifications to help those in the Salesforce career space prove their skills.

One of the essential building blocks of a Salesforce professional are certifications and people are getting more and more to look attractive and valuable to prospective employers. A certification can go a LONG way if it’s a pay increase you’re after (who isn’t?).

Oftentimes, the Admin certification is one of the first certifications a Salesforce professional will attempt to achieve but DO NOT BE FOOLED. Just because it is first, does not mean it is easy. Hours of study, practice, and focus will be paramount to passing any Salesforce certification.

Here are a few ways to come prepared to your certification exam:

Download and Memorize the Study Guide

If you have not downloaded the Salesforce published study guide, check it out here: Study Guide. After you download it, print it, yes PRINT it out (a few pieces of paper won’t hurt anyone) and read it top to bottom and complete the practice test at the bottom – don’t worry at this point how you do. 

The guide gives breakdown of the high level requirements of the exam as well as the weighted test percentage of each.

Memorize each section, creating a page in a document for each

·        Organization Setup (3%)

·        User Setup (6%)

·        Security and Access (14%)

·        Standard and Custom Objects (15%)

·        Sales and Marketing Applications (15%)

·        Service and Support Applications (12%)

·        Activity Management and Collaboration (3%)

·        Data Management (8%)

·        Analytics – Reports and Dashboards (10%)

·        Workflow/Process Automation (12%)

·        Desktop and Mobile Administration (1%)

Use the documents to store study material, notes and relevant information for each topic. This way, when you self-assess later on, you can go back and expand on the areas you struggle in.

Trailhead

Salesforce provides some certification study material and an awesome education platform called Trailhead which allows users to learn everything from core concepts to advanced development all while getting hands on experience with their own Salesforce Sandbox.

Trailhead comes with multiple ways to learn

a)      Modules – Learning material for a specific topic (example: Advanced Formulas)

b)     Trails – Modules that are grouped by a broader subject area (example: Admin Beginner)

c)      Projects – Hands-on Practice (example: Build a Conference Management App)

d)     Trailmix – Customized or user created mixes of trails (example: Build your Sales Career on Salesforce)

To study for the Salesforce Admin Exam, I recommend taking the Admin Beginner trail. Even if you think you already know some of the subject matter, it will never hurt to go over things again! While taking the Admin Beginning trail, take note of anything that doesn’t make complete sense and later look for modules or projects that give you more practice on those topics.

Trailhead is truly essential for any Salesforce professional to stay relevant.

Online Learning

Never underestimate the power of online learning resources! There are tons of videos available about Salesforce and specifically, Salesforce Administration. Udemy is an awesome online learning platform that offers lifetime access to multiple courses. SELF PROMOTION ALERT: I recently created a MASSIVE online learning course on Udemy for just this subject: Preparing for the Salesforce Admin Certification Exam. I include 15 hours of on-demand video, notes, and practice tests. Check it out at 90% off here: Saleforce Certified Administrator

Although these paid, online courses typically offer the most content, there is always YouTube!

Salesforce Ben

I will always mention Salesforce Ben in these articles because he has an awesome blog that has been instrumental in my Salesforce career. There are several blogs on Salesforce Administration, including an awesome test exam.

Think Real World

Preparing for the exam will require more than just memorizing possible questions and answers. The exam is very much framed in real-life scenarios. As you go through study material, constantly think how you would apply what you learned and why. This little exercise will go a long way!

Conclusion

The demand for Salesforce professionals is growing very rapidly, far beyond the current supply. As the supply starts to grow, being certified will definitely be a way to differentiate yourself from others.

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What Makes a Salesforce Professional Valuable

It’s a big world for the Salesforce professional. There are tons of features to learn, tools to master, certifications to grab and trails (Trailhead) to be explored. There are weekly meetups, online communities, conferences, webinars and workshops. If desired, one could LITERALLY eat, breath, sleep, and dream Salesforce.

To a large extent, I too am involved in the community. I have certifications. I do the Trailheads (Expeditioner), and I try to stay abreast on new tools and functionality. I believe it is my responsibility as an admin/developer to keep learning.

However, I sometimes have a fear that Salesforce professionals dance on the precipice between professional understanding of the tool and obsessive loyalty.

The obsequious professionals collect and treasure digital accolades like badges and certifications a little too much and it’s common for many to have a few years of professional experience in the application development world.

To be clear, this isn’t a BAD thing. In many ways, this is not dissimilar to my experience. See my previous article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/perfect-detour-from-english-major-personal-trainer-grant-ongstad/.

In my work experience as an Admin/Developer I try to keep remembering two simple things:

1)     Serve the Business, Not the Application

Unless you work for Salesforce, Salesforce doesn’t pay your bills – the person or organization that signs your check does. They use Salesforce because it may be a tool that can solve their problems and help scale their business and, in some cases, it may not be.

They do not care if you use flow, process builder, workflow rule, or apex they only care if you solved their problem. If Salesforce reporting cannot handle their unique groupings and summaries as well as an existing excel report – don’t be afraid to tell them!

Businesses don’t just hire Salesforce professionals because they know Salesforce, they hire them in the hopes that they can solve their problems.

Whether you are an Admin, Developer, Cloud Consultant, Salesforce CPQ expert, Architect, or all of the above, your first allegiance is to the business and its requirements.

My boss once told me that tools and applications come and go but if you can understand the goals and mission of the business, how it operates, and where they are heading that I’d always be in demand.

2)     Be a Solution Architect

Every change, customization and enhancement should be considered in relationship to the entire system architecture. You are not just an order taker who reads a requirement and implements a change without question. What effect will this change have on existing customization, user experience, reporting etc.? Are you making assumptions about how users are interacting with the system vs how they are actually using it?

A solution architect thinks ten steps ahead when implementing or recommending a solution rather than jumping to the neatest and shiniest tool. Sometimes the solution is a change in an internal process.

I don’t intend to throw shade on those who truly love Salesforce. For many of us, the tool has provided a rewarding career path and I believe the demand will only continue to grow. It is also tremendously important to have skilled users of the tool. Everyone who wears the badge (yes, on Trailhead too) of the Salesforce professional should have an in depth understanding of it.

I only hope that we never lose sight of the customers we serve and of the skill that make us most valuable: The ability to understand and solve problems.