Salesforce Administrator Certification Guide & Tips

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  • Entry Level
  • 6-12 months
  • No Prerequisites
  • 200

Table of Contents

Administrator Certification Introduction

The baseline credential for any Admin. Showcase your knowledge on Salesforce features and best practice configuration.

The Salesforce Certified Administrator exam 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.

The exam will test your knowledge on:

  • Organizational Setup 
  • User Setup
  • Security & Access
  • Standard & Custom Objects
  • Sales & Marketing Applications
  • Service & Support Applications
  • Activity Management & Collaboration
  • Data Management
  • Analytics – Reports & Dashboards
  • Workflow/Process Automation
  • Desktop & Mobile Administration
  • AppExchange

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. 

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 (Totalling 54% which is 32/60 questions).

1. Standard & Custom Objects 14%

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 that can be created to store custom tables of information.

2. Sales & Marketing Applications 14%

The Sales Cloud is Salesforce’s most popular product and is one of the core CRM products. It is used to store Account & Contact information, as well as progress deals through the sales cycle, from Lead, to Opportunity, to customer. The Sales Cloud has many standard features such as product management, quoting, forecasting, and campaign management. 

3. Service & Support Applications 13%

Service Cloud is another of Salesforce’s most popular products, and is also a core CRM product. It is used for customer support teams to effectively process cases or tickets coming into the business. The Service Cloud has many standard features such as Email-to-Case, Case Assignment, Knowledge Base, and a Community (Portal) module. 

4. Security & Access 13%

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.

Study Strategy

The Salesforce Certified Administrator exam might be 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 familiar with 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, print it out and stick it on your office wall, ticking each 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!

Lastly, you should familiarise 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 familiarise 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, 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 focussing 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

  • Download the Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list
  • Ensure you not only revise the features and concepts, but 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 practise 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 know what you are talking about. 

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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

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

  6. Avatar

    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 🙂

  7. Avatar

    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. Avatar

      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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