The Salesforce Architect Certifications, for some, can help create a floor plan for a successful career.
Take the example of Doug Ayers, a software developer at GearsCRM, a consultancy in Greater Nashville, Tenn. Ayers leads a Salesforce community group of like-minded professionals who gather socially to discuss tools, code, career skills and other related topics. That commitment to the company's technology and culture helped secure his current year-long stint as a Salesforce MVP -- a peer-nominated honor that recognizes knowledge and leadership in the larger Salesforce community.
Ayers, however, said he believes his most valuable career achievements are his 13 Salesforce certifications; credentials that show he has mastered particular skills and niches of Salesforce concepts. Eight of those are Salesforce Architect Certifications, which demonstrate experience and expertise in the foundational aspects of Salesforce technology.
He's just one certification shy of completing the full Architect set: He still needs to take the Certified Technical Architect (CTA) Review Board exam, which is considered the most challenging.
"That's like the gold medal," Ayers said.
In total, Salesforce has eight certification tracks. The nine Salesforce Architect Certifications are technical and wide-ranging in scope, and when all are earned -- which the vendor encourages -- the certificate holder should have a pretty good handle on how Salesforce's products interact technically.
Ayers, for instance, says he can confidently put on hats of expertise for application development, integration, security, data analysis and architecture, and system analysis and design.
"I have a toolbox for the problems the customer wants us to solve," he said. "I know how to effectively solve their problems. Sometimes, it's code and integrating between ERP customer portals and Salesforce, and other times, it could be streamlining business processes and approval processes.
"With Salesforce, there's so much to learn, and the technology changes every few months, but you can't go to college and learn how to be a Salesforce expert," Ayers added. "There are lots of people who get into this field who have zero college background. So they get certified, because you need to have an understanding of these platforms."
The financial impact of Salesforce certifications
Gaining that understanding can benefit professionals financially, as well. Ayers earns higher pay and bonuses at work for obtaining certain certifications. Once he earned the Application Architect and System Architect certifications, Ayers received a 10% pay increase.
According to IT compensation data analyzed by Foote Partners, three certifications, in particular, have a demonstrable impact on professional compensation when compared with those without the accreditations.
Ayers already has two of those -- Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I, which can result in a median of an 8% boost in compensation when discarding statistical outliers, and Certified Platform Developer II, which can result in a median 9% salary increase. The third certification -- Technical Architect -- could lead to as much as a 14% pay increase for Ayers once he's rounded out the Salesforce Architect Certifications.
Doug Ayerssoftware developer, GearsCRM
Ayers' other architect certifications are Data Architecture and Management Designer, Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer, Identity and Access Management Designer, Integration Architecture Designer, Mobile Solutions Architecture Designer, and Sharing and Visibility Designer. He also has the Administrator and Platform App Builder certifications and a Force.com Developer certification, although that is being phased out.
The MVP honor, which can be renewed by a vote from other MVPs, and his leadership of the Nashville Salesforce developer group are opportunities for Ayers to learn more from others about what aspects of the company's technology to study, including coding styles and best practices. He said he also views these pursuits as opportunities to spread the good word of Salesforce by sharing the story of his journey.
"I love helping people learn about the technology," he said. "I love evangelizing."
Meet an IT pro with 18 Salesforce certifications