Certifications / Admins / Career

Salesforce Administrator Certification Guide & Tips

By Christine Marshall

The Salesforce Administrator certification is considered the baseline credential for any admin. Passing this exam will showcase your knowledge of Salesforce features and best practice configuration.

It is regarded as the foundation level qualification for any Salesforce professional. It covers the core Salesforce CRM platform, including the Sales and Service Cloud products, as well as the Force.com platform that enables you to extend standard Salesforce functionality.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the exam:

  • Entry-level certification
  • 6-12 months of experience required
  • No prerequisites in terms of other qualifications
  • $200 fee

Who’s the Ideal Candidate?

For anyone looking to enter the world of Salesforce, the Certified Administrator exam is the best way to prove your knowledge of the core Salesforce platform. Once achieved, it will provide employers with the confidence that you understand how to administer, maintain, and extend the Salesforce platform using custom functionality on the Force.com platform.

It’s also perfect for those ‘accidental admins’ or anyone already working as an existing Salesforce Admin (without certification). I found getting certified to be radically transformative for my skills and expertise. As a self-taught admin in the days before Trailhead, I shudder to think of how much damage I could have done.

Luckily, I never had any huge mishaps. However, while studying for the admin exam, I was stunned to learn about many features and best practices I was unfamiliar with. Needless to say, getting certified has made me a much better Salesforce Administrator.

The admin exam is also a prerequisite for many other Salesforce exams, so it’s important to understand the basics before progressing to other certifications that are slightly more advanced.

If you are at the very start of your Salesforce career, you might want to check out the Salesforce Associate certification first, which will give you a solid grounding in the fundamentals of Salesforce and the ecosystem. We even have a handy free practice exam pack to help you understand what’s covered!

Exam Topics

The Salesforce Admin certification will test your knowledge on:

  • Configuration and Setup
  • Object Manager and Lightning App Builder
  • Sales and Marketing Applications
  • Service and Support Applications
  • Productivity and Collaboration
  • Data and Analytics Management
  • Workflow/Process Automation

Key Topics

Salesforce exams are made up of different topics, comprised of different weightings for each. It’s important to pay attention to these, as just a few sections will most likely take up the majority of the exam, such as the key topics below.

Configuration and Setup: 20%

Security of a Salesforce org is of the utmost importance to ensure no unauthorized access, both internally and externally. For external security, this means understanding how passwords are managed, IP restrictions, and network settings. For internal security, this means understanding how user profiles, roles, and sharing settings work to restrict certain users from accessing records or performing functions.

Object Manager and Lightning App Builder: 20%

At its foundation, Salesforce is a cloud-based database that runs in a similar fashion to any other, with tables (objects), fields, and links between tables to create a relational database. It is fundamental to understand how these interact with one another and the difference between standard out-of-the-box objects such as Accounts and Contacts, as well as custom objects.

Data and Analytics Management: 14%

Salesforce is only as good as the data you put into it. You will need to understand how to import, update, delete and extract data, as well as ensure proper data validation. Reports and Dashboards in Salesforce can then be used by businesses to monitor performance and answer key questions that identify issues and support business growth.

Workflow/Process Automation: 16%

Salesforce can be used to automate mundane, repetitive work, reducing the need for manual tasks. This enables users to be more productive and can significantly help with the adoption of the platform. Salesforce has multiple automation tools, and part of your role as the Salesforce Administrator will be to select the best tool depending on your business requirements and the features of each tool.

Study Strategy

The Salesforce Administrator certification might seem daunting if you are just looking to get into the world of Salesforce. However, once broken down into individual sections, it’s a lot more manageable.

You should first check out the official Salesforce Trailhead exam guide. This gives you a great outline of all the different concepts you need to be familiar with before taking the exam. This can be used as your revision plan — tick off each section once you have fully understood each concept.

Revise using Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform. Check out the relevant Trailhead modules that allow you to learn about features and test yourself by following the challenges and getting feedback in real-time.

As well as learning about the concepts on paper, you should ensure that you test these features in a Trailhead playground, learn their limitations, try and break them, and have fun!

For hands-on experience, we recommend that you complete both the Admin Beginner and Admin Intermediate trails on Trailhead. Next, complete the Admin Certification Trail and Admin Certification Trailmix on Trailhead. These have been specifically designed by Salesforce to guide you through the most important topics of the exam.

Lastly, you should familiarize yourself with the exam structure. Salesforce exams are multiple-choice but follow, a pattern giving you a choice of the right answer, incorrect answers, and an answer that could be correct but is not best practice (to really test your skills!). The best way to familiarize yourself with these exams is by taking our mock exams, which have been carefully crafted to reflect the real exam.

Exam Strategy

When exam day finally hits, there are a bunch of tips we gathered over the years to give you the best chance of passing with flying colours.

Firstly, if there are any concepts you are struggling to get to grips with, print off a cheat sheet and try and memorize any of these before you take the exam so they are fresh in your memory.

When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question and read it through a few times. For the scenario-based questions, there will be huge clues in the answer to what the correct answer actually is. If you need to (and are taking the exam in a test center), use the pen and paper provided to draw out a data schema, role hierarchy, or any other diagram that will help you visualize the answer.

When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Salesforce likes to throw in answers that are made up of features or just plain incorrect.

They also like to throw in curveballs of features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. You can often worm out these by focusing on standard Salesforce features that accomplish a task. For example, you could build a custom approval process with Process Builder, but why do this when there is a standard feature that is best practice?

You also have a great tool at your disposal, the “Mark for review” feature. On each question, you will have a checkbox that you can mark. This is great if you cannot think of an answer right at that moment or if you are doubtful about your answer.

At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review these questions. Depending on the amount selected, this will give you a pretty good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test. Regardless of the questions marked for review, I would always recommend going through every question if time permits. I do this on every exam, and often spot mistakes I made in the answers and change a few.

Resources

Tips

  • Check out the Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list.
  • Ensure you revise the features and concepts and thoroughly test them out in a Developer org or a Trailhead Playground.
  • Once you feel confident with some of the modules, book your exam to give you a date to aim towards. This will give you the motivation to revise and pass the exam.
  • Try out our mock exams to practice for the real thing and test for any knowledge gaps.
  • Download our Top 10 Salesforce Certification Tips eBook.

Final Thoughts

The Salesforce Certified Administrator exam is a qualification that all Salesforce professionals should hold. It is an expectation of nearly every employer and will give (both you and them) the confidence that you can successfully and responsibly maintain and customize Salesforce.

Once you have achieved this certification, it will open so many doors in your career — it’s just a matter of choosing the path you wish to go down! Check out our Salesforce certifications infographic to see the different paths.

The Author

Christine Marshall

Christine is the Courses Director at Salesforce Ben. She is an 11x certified Salesforce MVP and leads the Bristol Admin User Group.

Comments:

    dipika dabasia
    May 28, 2016 2:37 pm
    Hi Ben I am a Salesforce system administrator at work and in the past 2 years have been working on implementing a system which will work with the business. I really enjoy working with Salesforce and keen to now learn more and take the exam. I have looked at numerous websites which have been recommended to me and feel there is too much info and don't really know where to start! i have looked and the study guide and i am trying to find documentations which cover each specific objective. I know you have clearly provided a guide above but was wondering if there was a textbook which covers everything i need to know rather than having to flick through numerous websites! i have come across the 5500 page document which looks daunting! Please could provide me with advice on where / what subjects i should be covering? Thanks
    Sarah
    February 08, 2017 7:18 pm
    Hi Ben, Is it possible that there is a mistake in this section. The word used is Revise or Revision and I think you mean review or reviewed? Otherwise I am not sure what you mean by Revise in these areas? Thank you
    Ben McCarthy
    February 08, 2017 7:28 pm
    Hi Sarah, Thanks for your comment but I believe that this is a nuance between English & American English, please see here - http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/139918/american-english-equivalent-of-revise-as-in-studying
    Nicky
    March 14, 2017 3:03 pm
    Hi Ben, I just took your mock quiz and found it to be super helpful. Do you have an updated question bank for 2017? Thank you!
    Bina Maheswari
    November 27, 2017 7:07 am
    Hi Ben, I can see mock quiz of 20 questions only. Is there any more mock tests or this is the only one?
    John Mathew
    February 28, 2018 6:10 am
    Hi Ben, I am currently in my self preparation exercise towards the admin certification. I actively go through the trailheads and also take up the projects within trailhead. However when I take the exams, I realise that trail heads and projects are not helping me answer all those tricky exam questions. Also I am not able to gather a good step by step approach to ensure I am meeting the exam criteria. I often come across a new material/guide and then come back to square one. Can you please help me ? Thanks John K M
    rakeshsdnaakesh
    May 14, 2019 7:35 am
    Hey Guys for help guides and documents related to any exam do reach out to rakesh.sdna@gmail.com
    Mike Larry
    May 23, 2019 9:36 pm
    I took my classroom training with LearningCurv. Good value. Something to look into.
    israel regalado
    July 20, 2019 1:52 am
    Pues nada, no lo pase, creo que el tema es idiomatico o idotico en mi caso.. pero que frustrante !!
    Phil Jones
    May 06, 2020 7:21 pm
    Hi Ben, THANK YOU for the 2 Admin practice exams and the brilliant exam advice above!! I was concerned that the real exam would just be next and not back and review, so your exam advice was brill on this and I made FULL use of marking for review AND then going through all the questions to review and finish at the end. I 100% endorse your comments that the exam questions are much more wordy and scenario based, but as an Architect, I'm used to this!! What I would add for the benefit of others, that about 3--40% of the way through the exam I'd pretty much given up as there was a run of questions which I just didn't know......... But I carried on, did the ones I knew and then circled back to the others which miraculously became clearer!! Long story short I passed first time (earlier today) and I would say: Do as many practice tests as you can Do the Trailhead stuff Work through the topics in Dev instance Do the do as much as possible MAKE A LIST OF STAND OUT LEARNINGS AND KEEP REVISING THEM Thanks again Salesforce Ben :) Ps I'm starting on Platform App Developer tomoz :)
    Lucy Mazalon
    May 07, 2020 12:07 pm
    Thanks Phil! We love your enthusiasm :) good luck with Platform App Builder
    Travis
    October 14, 2020 5:09 pm
    Hi Ben! I am JUST getting started on Trailhead. (2 Badges! Woo hoo!) Am I understanding that it will take 6-12 months to get certified based on this post? Any other roles that are faster to get certified in or that you recommend to someone just getting started but also look to land a career in the short-term? I do not have a degree or an IT background.
    Christine Marshall
    October 15, 2020 9:32 am
    Hi Travis, The time is an estimate and really varies from person to person depending on experience. We find a lot of people studying to become a Salesforce Admin may not have a background or degree in IT, or the opportunity for much hands on practice so this can make the process slower (but definitely achievable). It's also assumed that you are probably working full time and have to fit in study around work and other commitments. The Admin exam covers a lot of material whereas some of the other exams cover fewer topics but you are expected to understand them in a lot more depth. If possible, getting real life practice, perhaps on a volunteer basis can speed up your learning and understanding. Good luck! Christine
    Travis
    October 15, 2020 1:53 pm
    Thank you so much!
    Jason
    January 04, 2022 3:25 am
    Hi Ben, how can i enroll for the program?
    Christine Marshall
    January 04, 2022 12:17 pm
    Hi Jason! Which program are you referring to?
    Kelly
    February 22, 2022 7:12 pm
    Hello I´m trying to buy this course but can´t figure out how to do that I´m trying to purchase the Salesforce Administrator Certification Guide & Tips, appreciate your help tks
    Christine Marshall
    February 23, 2022 9:39 am
    Hi Kelly, At present, the course available is our Salesforce Admin Practice exams which you can purchase here: https://courses.salesforceben.com/salesforce-certified-administrator-exams/ We will shortly be releasing a new course as well!
    Dev
    March 07, 2022 7:27 am
    Hi, I am having experience in the Technology Audit. Took break in the pandemic period to take care of my babe. Heard about sales force from my friend. Want to switch over the career. Don't know which certification will suit to me. Any one please guide me.
    Christine Marshall
    March 07, 2022 9:24 am
    The Salesforce Administrator exam is the best place to start as it will give you a good overview of the products and functionality.
    Suhas Pawar
    March 21, 2022 10:54 pm
    Hi SFBEN Team, Thanks a lot as I passed my Admin Certification today, I studied thoroughly the Salesforce Administrator Practice Exams. The most important is that after each question, the explanation and the link to the help is provided, which helps you to sharpen the skills. I must admit that the difficulty level in the practice exams is at par with the actual exam. Looking forward to next certifications. Coincidently I scored the exactly same in the actual exam as the average of all practice exams which I attempted first time.
    Christine Marshall
    March 22, 2022 9:17 am
    Thank you so much for your lovely feedback! Congratulations on passing your exam!
    Donna Ray
    April 20, 2022 7:47 pm
    Hello there, I'm seeking a Certification in Salesforce Admin. Where's a good place to start? I have no degree in IT at all and this Certification will help in my position at work. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
    Christine Marshall
    April 21, 2022 12:33 pm
    Hi Donna, Your first port of call should be the official exam guide on Trailhead! https://trailhead.salesforce.com/help?article=Salesforce-Certified-Administrator-Exam-Guide Be sure to start following the recommended Trails on Trailhead for hands on practice. We also have a complete course to help you learn everything your need to know to pass the Admin exam - you can find more details here: https://courses.salesforceben.com/salesforce-certified-administrator-course/
    Percy Motha
    May 19, 2022 4:30 am
    Hi I’m interested in sales force career just wanna now how to start
    Rommel
    August 05, 2022 9:05 pm
    Do you have course for advance admin?
    Christine Marshall
    August 08, 2022 1:40 pm
    We have our Salesforce Advanced Admin Certification Guide & Tips but no course at present! https://www.salesforceben.com/advanced-administrator-certification-guide-tips/
    arlette lamas
    April 06, 2023 7:20 pm
    Hello in order to apply and get into salesforce do i need a college degree ?
    Sneha T
    April 13, 2023 8:23 am
    Hi, I am preparing for salesforce admin certification and planning to attend the exam by april end 2023. I was looking for practice tests and found your website. Is the bundle of 5 tests is updated with questions on current updates as on april 2023? Please let me know I am planning to buy it
    Christine Marshall
    April 13, 2023 2:00 pm
    Yes! Our practice exams are updated 3 times per year in line with the latest release.
    Jason Maxwell
    May 26, 2023 6:07 pm
    How many hours is the salesforce admin course to complete? I know times will vary, I am more thinking about average time to set aside time in my calendar to purchase and complete.

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