Preface: this post is part of the Study Guide: How to Earn 15 Salesforce Certifications series.
Let’s talk about what you need to study for each certification, specifically!
A note about flashcards: Flashcards are meant to expose you to the variety of topics that are covered in an exam. Flashcards poke holes in your understanding, and, they tell you where you need to focus more time in your studies. If you simply memorize flashcards, you will fail! Remember, in order to pass, you need to study for understanding, not memorization!
These certifications are listed based on my recommended order.
No matter where you are in your career, this is the cert to begin with since it’s a pre-requisite to almost every other certification. It covers a lot of material but doesn’t get too in depth on any. Unfortunately one of the harder certs, however, it is the most “memorizable” of all certs!
A well written certification because it especially tests for understanding, instead of memorization. There is very little luck involved in this one. If you study properly, you will pass! Many employers look for this certification specifically, so it’s a good one to earn earlier.
Formerly known as the Developer aka DEV 401 certification. Despite the name change, the content is mostly the same. This exam and Advanced Administrator are arguably the two most similar tests. Take this one shortly after passing Advanced Admin. Again, focus on understanding!
Similar to the previous two exams, plus some additional questions around project management.
Despite the “consultant” in its name, this cert embodies the responsibilities of every admin well. Passing will be simple if you’ve already passed the previous two, especially if you don’t wait too long.
This one comes next since Service Cloud is overall the second most popular cloud after Sales. Passing this cert will open up your job prospects significantly. If you don’t have experience in the Service Cloud, don’t worry, just like all of the rest of the certs, you can still pass it through studying!
Many people have passed this certification without a formal developer job. I generally recommend six months of experience coding in Salesforce, officially or unofficially, before attempting the developer certs. That said, you can still pass this otherwise.
Without question the most difficult and rarest certification on this page, and nothing else comes close. If you can pass the three required sections: the multiple choice exam, programming assignment, and essay, your inbox is going to explode with job offers! Worth it!
Note: Big changes are coming to this certification in the end of 2017! See my analysis here.
The easiest of the architect exams! I consider this on an extension of Advanced Administrator, focusing on the sharing aspects. The core principles are the same, plus some additional questions on scalability since architects work within larger Salesforce deployments.
This one is also on the easier side when it comes to architect exams, however it is no slouch! By now you already understand the principles of data modeling, ie lookups vs master-detail relationships, however, this exam introduces questions focused around managing large data volumes (LDV).
Congratulations, you automatically achieve this certification if you’ve been following the order in this guide! This is a major milestone along your path and you are now officially halfway through the architect journey.
We now begin exams on the System Architect track of the Architect Journey. These are generally more difficult because it’s harder to get experience in these topics. Always remember though that none of these are impossible, especially when using the SFDC99 method! You likely already have some experience in this topic if you’ve deployed between sandboxes and production.
This one sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is. If you have experience developing integrations, you have a big head start already. Focus on understanding the various integration methods, the scenarios in which they should be used, and what their pros and cons are.
This will likely be the most difficult certification you take, aside from Platform Developer II. It’s also likely the most satisfying certification to pass, because you’ll officially earn the System Architect certification as a result. You’re going to need 100% focus and determination on this one.
Congratulations, you also automatically achieve this certification if you’ve been following the order in this guide! This is the most important milestone, because now you’re officially ready for the Technical Architect review board! Woohoo!
Even though this certification is optional for the System Architect certification, I still recommend it because mobile is covered in the review board. Plus, you might as well do it since you’ve done all the other architect exams by now! You can pass this one without mobile experience.
The most “important” of the optional exams, since communities are covered in the Technical Architect review board! Also, while communities aren’t a super popular feature, they’re a lot popular than the rest of the certs (Marketing Cloud, Pardot, social, etc) .
By now you have at least 15 certifications, wow! If you want to keep going, you sure can! I won’t cover the rest of the exams, though by now I think you know the general formula!
I still have A LOT more tips for helping you pass each certification… we haven’t even covered test-taking strategies yet! Make sure to read through my entire Ultimate Salesforce Certifications Guide!
What else can I do to increase my chances of passing?
Studying via the methodlogies in this post will dramatically increase your chances of passing, however, there’s a lot more you can do too!
The entire Ultimate Certifications Guide talks about other ways to improve your chances, such as specific in-test strategies and how to study for certifications after failing them.
Combine all of these tools together and you will become a certification beast!
Do you recommend taking class X? Or paying for online course Y?
Classes can be very helpful in your overall Salesforce journey, however, know that you don’t need to take any classes to pass any certification. Generally, courses are a less efficient way to pass certifications, but at the same time, they require less thought on your part.
If you can convince your company (or someone else) to pay for your course for you, take it!
Should I take the test online or at a testing center?
I strongly recommend taking the test online, for reasons in addition to convenience!
See this post for more information.
How many hours should I study per day to pass certification X?
This all depends on your current experience levels, your studying efficiency, and more!
Generally, if you follow my entire guide and study at least 1 hour a day (and I mean real studying, not studying while watching TV!), you should pass 1 certification per month.
I have no experience in Salesforce. Can I pass certifications too?
You sure can! And here’s the proof!
How many certifications should I have before I start applying for jobs?
Don’t wait, apply immediately! You never know what might happen!
Generally, when you reach 5 certifications, that’s when your resume really starts to stand out. When you reach 10 certifications, your resume becomes indispensable.
To put it in perspective, most resumes I see have 1-3 certifications.
How do I pass the Technical Architect review board?
The #1 thing you can do to prepare for the review board is attend Destination Success!
Certifications and maintenance is expensive! How can I afford it?
Check out this post for tips and discounts!
Next post: My top eight certification test-taking tips!