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Salesforce salary survey shows increase in Trailhead use

The annual Mason Frank International survey shows the top two Salesforce certifications are administrator and platform app builder. Trailhead use has also increased.

If you're a Salesforce professional who is happy with your job and aims to add to an already impressive haul of more than 100 Trailhead training badges, you fit the profile of many others in your industry.

Despite an abundance of ambitious and skilled IT, sales, marketing, administrative and other types of experts in the field, the Salesforce line of products is so popular across industries that qualified workers are in demand, especially those with training and certifications.

The Mason Frank Salary Survey 2019/2020, doesn't stray too far from the agency's previous review of salaries and sentiments of Salesforce professionals. The more than 2,500 respondents of the 2019 to 2020 survey repeat a familiar refrain: They're well compensated, valued by their bosses and believe their workplaces are equal-opportunity employers.

Trailhead use on the rise

But the trends do change from year to year, said Taylor Jones, a vice president of Frank Recruitment Group, the parent company of the Mason Frank brand. A few years ago, Trailhead wasn't as relevant as it is today. Now, 94% of Salesforce salary survey respondents use the training tool, and 35% have more than 100 badges.

Salesforce launched online tutorial Trailhead in 2014, which has become a popular training alternative to Salesforce's more time-intensive certification program. The CRM giant even rolled out a Trailhead mobile app in 2019, making it more convenient for users to complete training modules.

Nearly two-fifths of respondents in the recent Mason Frank survey believe that Trailhead badges increase their chances of gaining future employment. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed are considered a "Ranger" in Salesforce parlance, meaning they have accumulated 100 or more badges. Twenty-four percent are in the next class, "Expeditioner," with 50 to 99 Trailhead badges.

Salesforce Trailhead use chart

These skills, coupled with experience, give professionals a leg up at a time when companies in need of Salesforce talent can't find enough help, said R. "Ray" Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

"Most [of the surveyed] folks are Expeditioners in Trailhead and have four to six years of experience," Wang said. "We're seeing a shortage of Salesforce resources, so this is good news for those who have the skills."

Certifications still popular

Even with the popularity of Trailhead, Salesforce professionals still find value in the company's certification program, which offers detailed courses in six areas: administrator, app builder, architect, consultant, developer and specialist. In the survey, 44% of respondents said they saw an average salary increase of 24% after earning a certification.

Today, 71% of survey respondents have at least one Salesforce certification, and 10% said they are working toward earning one.

Daniel Peter did not participate in the annual Salesforce salary survey, but he knows about Salesforce certifications: He has 30 of them, three of which are now retired from the program. Many of those certifications gave him an edge by improving his skill set but he is unsure they directly increased his pay, said Peter, the Salesforce practice lead for the IT services company Robots & Pencils. A past Salesforce MVP honor and extracurricular pursuits such as giving talks at conferences have also built his brand and probably enhanced his pay, he added.

Peter wonders if a proliferation of workers with certifications and badges on the job market have diluted their potency. Today, 71% of survey respondents have at least one Salesforce certification, and 10% said they are working toward earning one.

"Eight years ago, it was a big deal to [be] a certified developer and advanced certified developer," he said. "Now, it's becoming more common to see people with 10-plus certifications and many Trailhead badges."

The top two certifications held by Mason Frank survey respondents are administrator (88%) and platform app builder (46%). But Brent Leary, a CRM and CX analyst, is surprised the data architecture and management certification, as well as others that focus on data, aren't more widely held.

Top Salesforce certifications chart

"That will provide more higher pay opportunities," he said. "That skill will be more important going forward with the popularity of Customer 360 and being able to integrate the Salesforce clouds as well as integrating Salesforce with other enterprise clouds."

Increase in compensation

Mason Frank also surveyed professionals about their pay. Salaries are roughly in line with those reported in the previous year's survey, Jones said. Some positions, though, did see a pay jump, including Salesforce administrator.

The survey details jobs salaries for 26 Salesforce positions, including technical architect, sales director, developer and marketing automation specialist. Salaries are shown for the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy and a few other countries.

The highest salaried job in the U.S. is sales director, with a high-end of pay at $222,500; last year, it was also the highest salaried position, at $218,411. The best paying freelance position in the U.S., on average, is technical architect, which can fetch a contractor as much as $215 per hour. Certain markets can experience as much as a 15% difference in pay, due to the cost of living. That same technical architect position in San Francisco can pay $230 per hour.

Other findings

Mason Frank also asked Salesforce professionals about career aspirations, workload and workplace equality. For instance, more than one-fifth of those surveyed said they expect to leave their employers this year, with 36% of them citing lack of promotional prospects as the top reason. However, 52% of respondents believe they are well-compensated, while 73% are happy with their work hours. They are busy, however, as 66% of partner employees have seen an increase in their workloads in the past year.

In last year's survey, 73% of respondents said their companies had diverse workforces. This year, 70% of professionals surveyed said their companies are "equal rights employers," but 15% believe their employers could do more.

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