When it comes to cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM), Salesforce is arguably the largest name in the game. From a technologist perspective, mastering the various Salesforce platforms can also prove pretty lucrative, with specialist careers racking up a median annual salary of $71,175 (according to Lightcast, formerly Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes job-posting data from across the country).
Of course, that salary can climb still higher with the right mix of experience and training. Working at Salesforce itself also proves lucrative: According to levels.fyi, which crowdsources compensation data, an associate MTS (Member of Technical Staff) at Salesforce can earn an average salary of $117,889, paired with stock options worth $19,667 per year, and a bonus of $11,778.
Even if money isn’t your primary career driver, mastering Salesforce’s growing collection of apps and services can open up all kinds of interesting doors. With that in mind, we spoke with a few technologists about why Salesforce matters, best practices for learning it, and whether it was worth your time (and money).
Where Do I Start Learning Salesforce?
Thai Nguyen, Chief Innovation Officer at Salesforce-native project management app Inspire Planner, suggested (sensibly) that your Salesforce training should mirror your career aspirations. “There are several main directions you can take—Salesforce Developer, Salesforce Admin, Salesforce Architect, Salesforce Consultant, Salesforce Marketer, and Salesforce Partner just to name a few.”
Whatever your direction (and platforms you need to learn), you should probably visit Salesforce’s training portal, Trailhead. There are several ‘trails’ you can take, all of which will show what you need to actually learn. Salesforce’s ‘Getting Started’ portal is another great place to start your journey.
As you progress through Trailhead, keep in mind that Salesforce has evolved into much more than a CRM, and its software now meets a number of business needs. “When someone hears CRM, they’re liable to think that the platform is something of a fancy Rolodex. Really, it’s a business management platform that can support and grow with your business in a scalable way,” said Stratten Waldt of IT services firm Baobab Partners.
“I would start learning the system as an end-user and as an administrator,” Waldt added. “This means getting to know what custom objects and fields are, how they relate to each other, what process builders and workflow rules are, and how to run reports and create dashboards. All of this can be accomplished via point-and-click configuration. It’s important to know what the system can do without code so that you know what custom development is actually necessary for.”
Both Nguyen and Waldt agree that learning Salesforce is critical if you plan on working in a CRM environment; it’s evolved into a primary vendor of such technology for many thousands of companies around the world.
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What Are the Best Ways to Learn Salesforce?
The company's official method for learning is Trailhead. The upside to Trailhead is it has everything you need. The downside: there are a ton of trails—with breakdowns of 309 modules and paths. Let’s break it down by products and roles:
- Account Engagement
- Commerce Cloud
- Consumer Goods Cloud
- CRM Analytics
- Data Cloud
- Education Cloud
- Experience Cloud
- Financial Services Cloud
- Health Cloud
- Marketing Cloud
- Net Zero Cloud
- Nonprofit Cloud
- Sales Cloud
- Salesforce Platform
- Salesforce Success Cloud
- Service Cloud
- Business Analyst
- Business User
It’s smart to use Salesforce’s filtering system to distill the correct paths for you. “You can easily find the right modules for you with the search and filters based on your role, your level, Salesforce products, and more,” Nguyen said.
Beyond Trailhead, Waldt advises you to avoid “anything you have to pay for.” What’s that actually mean? “There are dozens of courses and programs promising to teach you how to become an admin or developer, and some of them are absurdly priced. Very few go into the same depth as the free resources.”
Nguyen added: “Udemy is another great place to improve your skills, and they have a whole section of Salesforce courses.”
Trailhead is also the place to start if you want to land one of the company's (many) certifications. When the world isn’t locked down in a pandemic, there are actual in-person certification classes hosted by the company, as well. Here’s a full list of the company’s certifications:
Nguyen also told Dice: “To prepare for certification exams, I recommend visiting Focus On Force, which offers realistic and up-to-date practice exams and study guides. You can find resources for various Salesforce certifications including Admin, Advanced Admin, Platform Developer, App Builder, and more.”
How Long Does Training Last?
“The training depends a lot on how much time per day you invest in it and what skills you already have,” Nguyen cautioned. “With proper dedication and training courses, it may take three to four months to learn Salesforce Admin skills, five-plus months to go through Salesforce Developer training, and six (or more) months to learn Salesforce Consultant skills.
He continued: “I would say this is a bare minimum, and many even entry-level positions would require much more Salesforce experience. However, I would suggest you consider your Salesforce training as a lifelong learning journey, so that you always stay up-to-date with the latest developments.”
Waldt notes that training is ultimately up to the technologist and how far they want to go with the platform. The admin beginner trail might take nine hours in total, with the intermediate taking another 12 hours—and those, combined, will give you a solid foundation as an in-house Salesforce admin. “From there you can go on to advanced, go into the developer trailheads, focus on specific apps or technologies, really get into data, and more,” he said. “It really is what you make of it, and there are a ton of career opportunities available depending on your ability and inclination.”
Related Salesforce Jobs Resources: