Best Salesforce Certifications for Developers in 2023

by Sheila Mulholland
August 22, 2023
Best Salesforce Certificates for Developers 2023

“If you’re intimidated by technology, don’t let that stop you… It’s possible. And failure is normal. I was rejected multiple times before I landed my job at Google, and I didn’t pass all my certifications the first time around. It’s all part of the process.” — David Liu, Lead Salesforce Technical Architect, Google 


Technology jobs are famous for three things: High salaries, very complicated work, and “little to no barrier to entry”, as people love bringing up. But it’s never that simple in practice, right? While an exceptionally qualified person might be able to get hired into a senior-level developer role with nothing more than a stellar GitHub portfolio and the proverbial firm handshake, competition for most tech jobs is incredibly intense. Attaining developer-specific Salesforce credentials serves to set you apart and aptly demonstrates your experience to future employers. 

Running the Numbers: Why Get Salesforce Certified? 

While most readers probably know that it’s far from mandatory to hold a Salesforce certification to get experience in working with the platform, or even to develop for it, there are still a handful of very compelling reasons to obtain a Salesforce certification in 2023. There’s the nature of demand for Salesforce-certified developers, which is and has been elevated for some time – and that’s an upward trend that many industry experts estimate will continue through at least 2028. If you’re looking for a stable career path and progression, Salesforce is a proven platform and these certifications, accordingly, are as ‘future-proof’ as possible. 

There’s also the well-documented fact of technology job salaries far outstrip most other occupations – and with the average salary for Salesforce-certified developers clocking in at around $100,000 USD, these roles are no exception. To sweeten the pot just that bit more, it’s estimated that 77% of Salesforce professionals who obtain an official Salesforce credential receive a pay rise of around 20-40%. That’s not bad!

The Salesforce Certification Landscape in 2023 

Now that you know why Salesforce credentials are a good bet, which certification/s will you pursue? The ecosystem of Salesforce certifications is complex, with over 40 different certifications ranging from the Associate level up to Certified Technical Architect – while many advanced exams do have prerequisite levels, much of the Salesforce credentialing system is self-driven, so it’s imperative that you make sure you’re selecting, studying for, and taking the right exam.  

What if you fail your first attempt? Retakes are possible, with a maximum of three attempts per certification exam, but come with stipulations: You must wait a predetermined amount of time in between each exam attempt, and there will also be a retake fee assessed – typically this is 50% of the exam cost. That doesn’t sound too bad if you’re taking the Associate level test, which has a $75 exam fee, but if you need a second shot at the Certified Technical Architect exam, you could be shelling out $3,000 – half of the exam’s initial $6,000 fee. So, make those flashcards and take advantage of all available study guides; Salesforce actually provides study materials for most of their examinations right inside Salesforce Trailhead.  


Basic Salesforce Certification Suggestions for Developers  

With so many different Salesforce certification options available, it can be difficult to discern which one might be the best fit to move your career forward. Fortunately, Salesforce understands this, and by breaking their certifications down into a tiered system with defined examination prerequisites for more advanced levels, they’ve made it much easier to navigate. (For the purposes of this blog, we’ll assume that you’re an experienced developer who has some Salesforce chops, but no official credentials just yet.)  

There are two certifications that serve as excellent ‘foundational’ knowledge for your journey to becoming Salesforce certified, the Salesforce Administrator and Salesforce Platform Application Builder certifications. Neither certification has any strict prerequisites in terms of Salesforce certifications, although of course, you’re also responsible for incorporating your own development knowledge and experience, making either one a good fit for someone starting out.  


Salesforce Admin vs Salesforce Platform App Builder 

What’s the difference between the two? Great question! “…The Admin Certification focuses more on the proper care and feeding of your Salesforce org as Administrator… The App Builder is more of a ‘How to enhance [your Salesforce org] declaratively’,” as renowned Salesforce evangelist, expert, and 17-time Salesforce Certified Architect Roy Moore explains. So, you can do both, depending on your specific goals and what you want to end up doing with Salesforce; however, as he also elaborates, “… most [developers] start with Admin.”  

Whichever certification you choose to attain, passing your exam will unlock a host of other developer-specific Salesforce certifications! For example, Salesforce Platform Developer I and II, JavaScript Developer I, Salesforce Industries CPQ Developer, or OmniStudio Developer might be good options if you foresee yourself remaining in development work for the long haul. These exams are all priced at $200 as of the time of publication, and all are considered entry to mid-career level certifications. Or maybe you want to see what life’s like on the business side? If so, a Salesforce Business Analyst certification could give you an excellent start.  


More Advanced Salesforce Certifications for Developers 

As your comfort level with the Salesforce ecosystem grows, you’ll find that more and more advanced certifications are within your reach. As an example, you might opt to explore the Salesforce Data Architect Certification. This certification doesn’t have any Salesforce certificate prerequisites, but don’t mistake it for an entry-level cert: Candidates need extensive experience in data science and sandbox management, as well as lots of experience working with Salesforce itself. Let’s just say picking this one up without having the benefit of any other Salesforce credentials is possible, but very improbable. 

Let’s look at the pinnacle of Salesforce certifications — the Salesforce Certified Technical Architect Certification. This is not the “Cadillac of Salesforce certifications”; in its lofty and well-deserved position at the very top of Salesforce’s educational pyramid, it’s more like a Koniggsegg Jesko or a McLaren Senna. To attain this certification, you will need exceedingly well-developed theoretical and practical knowledge of practically all aspects of the Salesforce ecosystem — think “years of experience,” not “months” — as well as all of the whopping seven prerequisite Salesforce certifications. Only 400 people worldwide hold this credential, and its rarity is certainly taken into account when considering compensation and advancement.  


A View Ahead 

While no market force or company, however dominant, will last forever, thus far there’s ample evidence for the longevity of Salesforce as a platform, making Salesforce-specific credentials an attractive prospect for most devs. Provided that you’re sitting for the right examination, you’ve studied and prepared the best you can, and you know what you want to do with your certification, these tests could be the final barrier between you and a long, successful career working with Salesforce. Now there’s some motivation to hit the books! 

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