Salesforce Administrator Certification Guide & Tips

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Table of Contents

Administrator Certification Introduction

The Salesforce Administrator certification is considered the baseline credential for any Admin. Passing this exam will showcase your knowledge on 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 & Service Cloud products, as well as the Force.com platform that enables you to extend standard Salesforce functionality.

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The Salesforce Administrator 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

Who's the Ideal Candidate?

For anyone looking to get into the world of Salesforce, the Certified Administrator exam is the best way to prove your knowledge on 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 but 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 onto other certifications that are slightly more advanced.

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.

1. Configuration and Setup 20%

Security of a Salesforce Org is of the upmost 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.

2. Object Manager and Lightning App Builder 20%

At its foundation, Salesforce is 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 & Contacts, as well as custom objects.

3. 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.

4. 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 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 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, but once broken down into the individual sections, it’s a lot more manageable.

You should first get 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 you should take the exam. This can be used as your revision plan; tick off section once you have fully understood each concept.

Revising for a Salesforce exam has never been easier with the introduction of Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform. For each module on the exam, you will find a Trailhead Badge that this corresponds to, allowing you to learn about the feature, 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 with it!

For hands on experience, we recommend 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, that 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 that you are struggling to get to grips with, then 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 an 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 curve-balls, 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 to go 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

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.

14 thoughts on “Salesforce Administrator Certification Guide & Tips

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. Pues nada, no lo pase, creo que el tema es idiomatico o idotico en mi caso.. pero que frustrante !!

  6. 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 πŸ™‚

    Ps I’m starting on Platform App Developer tomoz πŸ™‚

  7. 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.

    1. Christine Marshall

      Reply

      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

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