Certifications / Architects / Career

Salesforce Data Architect Certification Guide & Tips

By Andreea Doroftei

The Data Architect is designed for architects who already have experience with planning, building, and releasing scalable Salesforce solutions in complex organizations. In order to successfully pass this exam, you should be familiar with sandbox management, development methodologies, and of course, deploying components through various environments.

This guide will focus on key topics, as well as the best strategy for studying and taking the exam itself. Be sure to check out the Trailhead exam guide for the official Salesforce guidance on the exam.

Who’s the Ideal Candidate?

This exam is specifically designed for architects or Salesforce professionals who are proficient with everything related to data. They should also have hands-on experience.

Data Architect is currently part of the Application Architect requirements, and also one of the prerequisites for the B2B Solution Architect Certification.

The Data Architect certification is a great way to test your knowledge about data manipulation in Salesforce and adjacent systems, and will get you thinking about all data implications.

Note: The Data Architect certification does not have any prerequisites at this time.

Key Topics

All Salesforce exams are made up of different topics, each with different weightings. Specifically for Data Architect, there are six topics, but it’s important to note that two of them make up 50% of the exam.

1. Salesforce Data Management (25%)

This section is all about knowing how to leverage standard and custom Salesforce objects and the various license types, as well as being able to consolidate data from multiple Salesforce instances in a single view.

The questions in this section will test your knowledge of techniques that can be recommended to ensure data is persisted in a consistent manner, such as validation rules and automation.

Here’s why: Experience Cloud User Licenses

2. Data Modeling / Database Design (25%)

In the exam guide, it is recommended to have 2-3 years of Salesforce experience before taking the certification, and this section is definitely part of the reason for that. Your knowledge around Salesforce objects and fields will be tested, with a focus on Big Objects and their pros and cons.

You should also know how a scalable and secure data model can be implemented, as well as how to avoid sharing recalculation issues, locking errors, or too many relationships between objects.

Here’s why: Create or Edit a Big Object

3. Large Data Volume Considerations (20%)

Questions in this section are mostly scenario based and will refer to your ability to design and implement a scalable data model for large data volume, considering implications such as system performance. On top of this, you should also know the available mechanisms for data purging and archiving considering an organization’s needs, and how virtualized data can be leveraged.

Here’s why: Do your big reports take a long time to return data?

4. Data Migration (15%)

From migrating data from other systems into Salesforce to data exports, this section will test your knowledge when it comes to manipulating data in bulk, how the import time can be optimized, and how different options and tools such as Data Loader are used, all while ensuring data quality is maintained at all times.

Here’s why: General Guidelines for Data Loads

5. Data Governance (10%) and Master Data Management (5%)

The Data Governance section will test your knowledge about protecting sensitive data and ensuring the organization is compliant with current regulations such as GDPR. On the other hand, Master Data Management (MDM) includes topics such as successfully applying concepts in order to define a single source of truth and consolidating attributes from multiple data sources.

Here’s why: Data Classification Metadata Fields

Study Strategy

While it’s very likely you have worked with data day in, day out since starting your journey with Salesforce, there are still a lot of particularities and details you should be aware of when it comes to acing this certification.

Salesforce once again provides a Trailhead Trailmix specifically designed for the Data Architect certification. This one includes a fair amount of written documentation, Trailhead modules, and even a very useful best practices video.

Once you’ve gone through all relevant modules and projects, there’s nothing stopping you from developing your own examples to better understand the concepts and get further hands-on practice.

READ MORE: Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Architect Certification Guide & Tips

Exam Strategy

To be ready for exam day, there are a bunch of tips we have gathered over the years to give you the best chance of passing with flying colors.

  1. If there are any concepts you are struggling to get to grips with, print off a cheat sheet and try to memorize it before you take the exam – this will keep everything fresh in your memory. You could also write down the key points depending on your learning style.
  2. When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times. For scenario-based questions, the answer options will give you huge clues as to what the correct answer actually is. If you are taking the exam in a test center, make use of the pen and paper provided to draw out a data schema, role hierarchy, or any other diagram that will help you visualize the answer. Please note, this is not allowed during online proctored exams.
  3. 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 different features or just plain incorrect. They also like to throw in curveballs – features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. For example, you could build a custom approval process with a process builder, but why do this when there is a standard feature that could be used instead?
  4. You also have a great tool at your disposal – the “Mark for review” checkbox – which appears below each question. This is great if you can’t think of an answer right at that moment, or if you are doubtful about your answer.
  5. At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review the questions marked for review (as well as all other answers), which will give you a pretty good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test. I would always recommend reviewing every question if time permits. I do this during every exam and often spot mistakes I’ve made, or find the answer to another question not yet completed.
  6. Even if you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, be sure to write down the topics you found most challenging – this will allow you to study further and test again. It is recommended that you schedule the retake as soon as possible to avoid disrupting the flow, preventing you from forgetting the features you don’t work with every day. As with all other Salesforce exams, the Data Architect retake fee is half price and you can have up to three attempts per release – as this is subject to change, make sure you check out the retake policy.

Useful Tips and Resources

  • Bookmark the official Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list.
  • Ensure you not only read about the features and concepts, but thoroughly test them out in a Developer Org or a Trailhead Playground. This will ensure you cover all functionalities, preparing you for some very detailed questions.
  • 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 invest time, revise all topics, and pass the exam.
  • Download our Top 10 Salesforce Certification Tips eBook.

Final Thoughts

The Data Architect certification might just be the one you were looking for to start your Certified Application Architect journey or simply to prove that your expertise, when it comes to any sort of Salesforce data manipulation, is on point. Don’t forget to make use of all the available resources, and most importantly, enjoy the learning path!

READ MORE: Salesforce Development Lifecycle and Deployment Architect Certification Guide & Tips

The Author

Andreea Doroftei

Andreea is a Salesforce Technical Instructor at Salesforce Ben. She is an 18x certified Salesforce Professional with a passion for User Experience and Automation. 


    August 15, 2022 4:51 pm
    Thanks for this, very useful as I'm about to take this certification! I did notice one error - the first 'slide' for question 4 is wrong - it's repeated from question 3.
    Andreea D
    August 16, 2022 11:46 am
    Hello Iain! Thank you for pointing that out, we've amended with the right question :)
    August 17, 2022 4:46 pm
    Thanks Andreea! Glad to say I passed the Data Architect certification this morning! :-D
    Christine Marshall
    August 19, 2022 10:58 am
    Andreea D
    August 19, 2022 11:09 am
    That's great Iain, congratulations!
    March 06, 2023 11:55 pm
    Thanks Andreea ! Completed data architect certification today.
    Andreea D
    March 07, 2023 11:10 am
    Congratulations, happy to hear that!
    April 14, 2023 9:23 am
    Thanks for the article :) Just a remark: the solution architect path image is outdated, since they changed the pre reqs for B2C Solution Architects. Data Architect Cert is now part of both B2C and B2B Solution Architect Paths.

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