What Does a Salesforce Developer Do?

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Salesforce Developers extend Salesforce orgs beyond declarative (point-and-click) configuration, build apps, and in turn, optimize business operations. Salesforce Developers will typically use two programming languages: Apex and Javascript.

There’s no doubt that Salesforce Developers are deserving of their compensation – they carry out a core function that enables organizations to get more out of their Salesforce investment. The responsibilities of a Salesforce Developer can range from typical code-based tasks, through to work that requires a level of business acumen (such as business analysis (BA) if it’s required to accurately gather requirements for the code).

“Salesforce”

What Does a Salesforce Developer Do? Let’s start by outlining what we mean by ‘entry-level’, ‘mid-level’, and ‘senior’ developers:

  • Entry-level developer: 0 – 2 years experience (possibly up to 3 years). Writing code based on specific requirements, (eg. basic Apex triggers), testing.
  • Mid-level: 2 – 4 years experience. Integrations, advanced triggers with multiple functions, and front end development.
  • Senior developer: 5+ years experience. Ownership of all programmatic requests, including solution design, plus stakeholder management.

When Salesforce asked 1,400+ developers worldwide how they spend their time, they found they were involved with:

  • Web apps/software as a service: 73%
  • App/extensions to third-party ecosystems: 55%
  • Backend services: 49%
  • Mobile apps: 26%
  • Desktop apps: 25%
    (and more…)

Source: Who Are Salesforce Developers? (Salesforce Developer Survey, 2020)

What Entry-level Salesforce Developers do:

As a junior Salesforce Developer, you’ll help continually improve and enhance your organization’s Salesforce platform, usually guided by experienced Salesforce Developers in our IT team. Tasks could include:

  • Writing code based on specific requirements
  • Basic Apex triggers (update a field)
  • Basic Visualforce pages/Lightning pages that have a single purpose
  • Testing
  • Absorbing knowledge around best practice development.
  • (occasionally) Salesforce Admin overlap, point-and-click configuration (if you work in a small organization, or are a solo developer)

Read more: Salesforce Junior Developer Job Description

To become a Salesforce Developer, you should: 

  • Have experience in web development/Java, or you are a Computer Science graduate
  • Learn Apex. This is the best development language to learn because it is fundamental to Salesforce (plus, it’s a lighter version of Java).

Why is Java important? If you know Java, you will be able to grasp Apex faster. Couple this with Javascript, and you will be ahead of the game in exploring the newer Salesforce development framework, Lightning Web Components (based on JavaScript).

You will be able to reuse those same concepts which will enable developers to not only develop backend processes (through Apex) but also front-facing interfaces for customized experiences. This will accelerate your career to the next level…

Progress to a Mid-level Salesforce Developer

With between 2–4 years experience, you will be considered a mid-level developer – more experienced than a junior developer, but not a senior developer yet.  

To progress from a junior developer to a mid-level role, you should master the following:

  • Integrations
  • Understanding security considerations,
  • Working with large sets of data.
  • Advanced triggers with multiple functions (and interlinked), across multiple objects, multiple applications, eg. creating payment schedules for invoices (involves multiple functions).
  • Be proficient in best practice development, making decisions in-line with best practice independently.

What if you are working for an end-user organization that doesn’t have any integration requirements? Here are some alternative ways you can develop your skills, and progress your career:

  • Front end development, building beyond the standard Salesforce UI, eg. building a custom stock checker application (will need to build this using VF page or LWC).
  • Bulkification
  • Working with large data sets.

What Senior Salesforce Developers do:

As a senior Salesforce Developer, you’ll take ownership of all programmatic requests for your organization. In most organizations, you will have the opportunity to manage a team of developers (or build one). 

It’s likely you’ll be expected to work with the Salesforce Admin and other stakeholders around the business. Responsibilities and tasks could include:

  • You will be expected to work independently, and will become a resource for other team members to call upon for assistance.
  • Solution design (architecting), including the considerations, limitations, and the impact. (‘Technical Consultant’ is a typical label here – we will expand on this later. See: ‘In-house vs. Consultancies).
  • Know best practice development inside and out.
  • The split between practical work vs. overseeing work will vary from organisation-to-organisation (and the individual’s preference, to some extent).

Read more: Salesforce Senior Developer Job Description

To become a Senior Salesforce Developer, you should: 

  • Understand solution design and its considerations (security, scalability, limits)
  • Gain experience in as many projects and Salesforce implementations as you can!

Salesforce Developer Career Path

Now you know more about what it takes to climb the ladder, let’s finish up with a typical Salesforce Developer career path:

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