8 Adventurous Career Paths for Salesforce Professionals

By Ben McCarthy

Although there are plenty of contentious topics in the Salesforce community, such as multi-select picklists or Apex versus Flow, there is one thing we can all agree on: the potential to grow your career within the Salesforce community.

Whilst there is talk at the moment of talent saturation for entry-level roles in the ecosystem, experienced Salesforce professionals will always be in demand. So, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting directions you can take your career in the Salesforce ecosystem.

In this article, I’ve tried to evaluate some of the real-life success stories I’ve seen first-hand during my career. These career paths are all super interesting and rewarding but will generally appeal to different types of people depending on their interests, as well as their appetite for risk and, in some cases, stress!

1. The Super Technical

Probably one of the most obvious career paths for Salesforce professionals to follow is to become an absolute domain expert in everything Salesforce – I’m mainly talking about the core platform here.

To reach this ‘demi-god-like’ status takes time. It requires you to study the theory of Salesforce in detail and, ideally, to be exposed to many different types of Salesforce implementations. You need to understand every feature, including the architecture of Salesforce and, in many cases, workarounds to achieve a desired but scalable output.

You will also need to make a lot of mistakes to get here. Only after seeing some of the pitfalls of designing a system that isn’t well-architected or scalable will you understand why you need to design your solution in a specific way. It also helps to have mentors you can rely on along the way who have been there and done that.

Hopefully, the value of achieving this type of career level is obvious. These will be the roles that people turn to for extremely complex implementations, seemingly unsolvable issues, and when there is a mission-critical bug in the system. Although this type of responsibility can sound stressful, the best kind of super technical resources tend to be unflappable, as they know there is a solution to the problem – it’s just a matter of fully understanding the requirement and issue.

The types of roles that fall under the “super technical resource” could include, but would not be limited to, Technical Architects, Solution Architects, Technical Consultants, Senior Developers, and Technical Directors.

Whilst these roles could typically exist in any of the four major types of Salesforce companies, in my experience, they exist within Salesforce consultancies or at Salesforce themselves in the form of the Technical or Program Architect role.

The most important thing I had to learn was to change my mindset and approach. When answering the inevitable question, “How should we do X?” I realized I had to know as much about alternate inferior options as I did my recommended solution. Even the ‘right’ answer won’t get support if you cannot correctly articulate these key facets in a way everyone can relate to and understand.

Pay close attention to people you admire and aspire to be like. Learning from someone amazing is much easier than trying to get there by yourself!” – Marco Erzingher, Solution Architect

2. The Niche Ninja

Something we talk about a lot at Salesforce Ben is the value of niches. As Salesforce grows as a platform, there are more niche products to focus on that typically make you more valuable to companies in the ecosystem. These products have a higher barrier to entry, being more complex to learn and having fewer resources to learn them online.

When I say niche products, I’m talking less about Sales and Service Cloud and more about CPQ, Marketing Cloud, Mulesoft, and, more recently, Data Cloud.

Niches are not just harder to learn; to state the obvious, there are fewer of these implementations around. This means you will typically need to work for a Salesforce consultancy or an end-user who has recently purchased a niche product to gain implementation experience.

For example, CPQ is a very challenging product to learn. Sure, you can get certified in CPQ and have a great deal of background knowledge on the product, but without multiple end-to-end projects completed with varying degrees of complexity, it will be hard to call yourself an expert in the product.

“For Marketing Cloud, you need to develop a comprehensive skill set and relevant technical abilities on products such as Email Studio, Automation Studio, and Journey Builder. Fundamentals of AMPscript and SQL are also great if you want to become an SFMC Developer.

There are so many fantastic resources to help you: Salesforce’s Trailhead platform, the official Salesforce Marketing Cloud documentation, and the SFMC that has a wonderful community where you can learn valuable insights and real-world perspectives, both in online forums and in person at local SFMC user group events.” – Jennifer Birks, Senior Marketing Cloud Engineer

3. RevOps Renegade

The Salesforce RevOps industry is an interesting one, it kind of sits parallel to the Salesforce ecosystem, with separate communities, events, and personalities.

RevOps stands for Revenue Operations and is the strategic integration of sales, marketing, and customer success. With Salesforce being the #1 CRM on earth with 23% of the market share, it’s only obvious that there is a huge portion of RevOps professionals who also focus exclusively on Salesforce.

By the very definition of the RevOps world, these boys and girls are typically more commercial than the average Salesforce professional. They understand everything about the marketing funnel and sales process and use terms such as MRR, Churn, CAC, and MQL.

Whilst the typical Salesforce professional is also fairly commercial, in my experience, they would lean more towards the technical implementation side of Salesforce but do not go as deep as RevOps professionals do into the commercial process.

As an example, a Salesforce Admin’s job description may include gathering requirements, dealing with tickets, and monitoring adoption, whilst a RevOps professional job description may include identifying issues impacting sales operations, conducting revenue analysis, and digging deep into sales users’ productivity.

If you are a top-tier RevOps professional, you can have a direct impact on the performance of the marketing and sales teams, which can lead to increased revenue for the company and will make you invaluable.

4. Entrepreneurial Enigma

A slightly more uncommon route, but also one which has been trodden by thousands of Salesforce professionals across the industry, is to take the entrepreneurial track. This would typically involve setting up your own business to create an AppExchange app, Salesforce consultancy, freelance business, advisory services, or possibly even content creation.

Although it sounds a bit silly to say, it’s important to note that nearly every Salesforce company is founded by an existing Salesforce professional. You need so much knowledge about the product and ecosystem to be successful, so anyone who has a few years under their belt in the ecosystem is perfectly positioned to give this route a try.

Founding an ISV or AppExchange app requires you to spot a gap in the market that Salesforce or one of its existing partners have missed. In the past, this has included document generation apps like Titan, DevOps apps such as Gearset, or test automation platforms such as Provar. Although there is no getting away from the fact that founding an ISV is much harder now than it was ten years ago, there are always going to be new problems that will need to be solved by new apps on the AppExchange.

The freelancing or consulting business is perhaps the more common and easier route to becoming your own boss. These companies are often set up by experienced Salesforce Consultants who have three to over five years of experience in the ecosystem and want to go it alone.

Whether you choose to found a consulting firm or pursue freelancing will depend on many factors, but mostly on your appetite for risk and ambition. However, that’s not to say you can’t become a freelancer with the option to switch to building a practice later down the line. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the webinar I did with my friend Ankit Taneja.

Fancy a few more ideas to start your own business? Check out the video below!

“In a few years, we have managed to bootstrap a SaaS business to 24 employees, and a huge part of that is down to the power of the Salesforce ecosystem.

Some tips for anyone exploring developing an AppExchange are to build for an industry you know, don’t underestimate the amount of support required, research OEM vs. ISV, and keep in mind that perseverance is key!” – Max Flowerdew, Founder of Seven20

5. The Director

For many in the working world, the ultimate goal is to land a management position – Director, VP, or C-level title. While chasing a title may seem like a vanity metric to some, there is nothing wrong with setting a challenging goal and eventually achieving it.

Compared to the previous four roles we have covered, the director level or management role will probably be the most hands-off from a technical standpoint. You will be involved at a strategic level, probably helping shape the company’s direction, and be responsible for managing and mentoring a team.

Director-level positions are not for everyone, though. For some, coding or building flows all day with minimal meetings is the dream, and for others, this kind of work might have become stale after many years in the industry.

It’s no secret that these roles are very well paid in most industries, but especially within Salesforce. There is also no technical salary cap to what you achieve. Whilst it would be hard to earn more than, say, $150-200K as a consultant without some kind of specialization, larger companies will pay directors more, and if you make a partner at a large consulting firm, the sky’s the limit.

But let’s make no bones about it – management is also a very challenging role, and people are way harder to manage than Salesforce orgs. So, if you can master leading, motivating, and mentoring a team, you will become invaluable.

6. Certified Professor

Becoming a Certified Technical Architect is many Salesforce professionals’ ultimate goal, #roadtoCTA.

The CTA exam is recognized as the hardest Salesforce certification to achieve, and unlike any other Salesforce exam, it includes a presentation to a board of current CTAs who must approve you.

As certifications are big business in the world of Salesforce, it’s no wonder that many professionals aim to claim the most impressive certification of them all. The fact that there are a finite number of CTAs also means a huge amount of clout, demand, and a salary to match.

But before you get too excited, becoming a CTA is very hard. There are many more that fail than pass. Some notable, very experienced Salesforce professionals who have taken the exam shared their experience of failing publicly.

The CTA exam is a surefire way to cruise through your Salesforce career, essentially doing anything you want. However, it requires a huge amount of dedication and time, which begs the question, “Is it worth the hype?”.

“Becoming a CTA goes far beyond any technical knowledge. It teaches you critical thinking and direct communication, how to listen and understand exactly what the client is asking, how to justify and defend a recommendation and how to understand trade-offs and considerations of each choice.

You learn to think big picture, understand common business processes, and see that, no matter what industry, most business processes follow a similar pattern. It’s had a major impact on many areas of my life.”Melissa Shepard, CTA

7. Captain Commercial

The Salesforce ecosystem is one big commercial melting pot – for Salesforce to sell these multi-million dollar products, they need a sales army. This comes in the form of Salesforce employees but also commercial individuals at consultancies and AppExchange businesses.

There are varying degrees of commercial roles in the Salesforce ecosystem, but one of the most common is to become a pre-sales engineer, also commonly called a Solution Engineer.

Salesforce employs thousands of SEs around the globe, but you will also find them at the aforementioned companies above. Here, you will be the salesperson’s right-hand man or woman, supporting the sales cycle technically. While the sales individual will hold the primary relationship with the prospect and the ultimate responsibility of closing the sale (which takes the pressure off somewhat), you will be responsible for building custom solutions, demoing the product, and being the technical SME.

For many in the Salesforce ecosystem, this job is refreshing. You are thrust into a commercial environment that comes with its fair share of stresses but also the thrill of closing the deal. You are taken out of end-to-end Salesforce projects, which, for some, will be a godsend, and you will benefit from a high salary and bonuses or commission.

For some who don’t have the urge to become the ultimate technical authority in Salesforce, the commercial option is fantastic. While you don’t need to know as much about Salesforce as a Technical Consultant, you do need to be commercially savvy and charming, with that thrill to close the deal.

You may also want to go completely off-piste and throw yourself into the lion’s den of full-on sales. I once found myself leading a Salesforce consultancy in which my role was full-time sales, and I was pretty good at it. Knowing the Salesforce platform inside out means you know all the benefits and can answer most customer questions without the need for a second resource.

“You can work at Salesforce, at an ISV, or at an implementation partner, and understanding whether you want to work in product sales or service sales is the first decision, as they will require different skills to be successful.

My biggest piece of advice would be, firstly, to never stop learning – you can rely on your pre-sales engineers and consultants, but if you want to be credible, then you should know enough about each product to be able to sell its value as part of a solution. Secondly, always keep the customer’s outcomes in mind, as that will help you focus on delivering value and driving meaningful change for an organization. “Ellie Copp, CRO Pracedo

8. The Creator

Becoming a creator may be one of the top dream career jobs for kids of the current generation, but it is a reality for those currently working in the world of business.

B2B trends tend to lag behind the world of consumer tech, of which creators have been a staple of the social media world for over a decade. But the gap is starting to shrink, and there is a real demand and need for individuals in the world of business to guide others and mentor them via social media, LinkedIn being the primary platform in my experience.

There are already a handful of creators in the Salesforce ecosystem who are earning a full-time living from creating content, courses, or doing brand deals with ecosystem companies. I fully expect this trend to continue, if not accelerate, as the creator economy grows by 10-20% a year.

Want to learn more? Sign up to learn more details about our Creator Program.

READ MORE: Your Guide to Salesforce Influencers vs. Salesforce MVPs

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has given you some insights into some of the most common senior career paths for Salesforce professionals.

My final bit of advice, if you want to go far in your career, is to plan in advance. Some of these career options will only be available to you at certain types of companies, and it will be much easier to get hired at these companies if you have previous experience.

The Author

Ben McCarthy

Ben is the Founder of Salesforce Ben. He also works as a Non-Exec Director & Advisor for various companies within the Salesforce Ecosystem.


    Mustafa Esmail
    February 28, 2024 2:59 pm
    Great article!
    February 29, 2024 11:24 am
    Loved this

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