osorioartist - Fotolia


What to expect in the Salesforce Administrator certification exam

Looking into what it takes to become a certified Salesforce Administrator? Prepare for the 60-question exam with insight into subjects covered during the 90-minute test.

The Salesforce certification program provides training aimed at helping administrators manage and maintain the platform. In this ongoing series, expert Robert Peledie offers insights into the Salesforce certification tracks and what's included in the exams.

The Salesforce Administrator certification exam is actually split into two separate certifications: Salesforce Administrator and Salesforce Advanced Administrator.

While an administrator is essential to any Salesforce team, it is worth mentioning that people don't always have a particularly positive view of what's often perceived as a broadly nontechnical role. This couldn't be further from the truth with the Salesforce Administrator certification, however; the role is an essential part of any Salesforce team, and some of the tasks actually take an advanced knowledge of the platform.

The exam itself is administered via a series of 60 multiple-choice questions, to be completed in 90 minutes or less. A passing score of 65% is required.

Given that the certifications are ever-evolving as the core product changes, it's always worth checking for the latest requirements before undertaking your exam prep -- but here's a look at the exams as of February.

Salesforce Administrator

The following outlines the Salesforce Administrator certification exam. The subjects aren't equally split, and more emphasis is placed on certain business areas:

  • Organization setup (1%)
    • Company profile, fiscal year, business hours, currency, default settings
  • User setup (9%)
    • Setup and maintenance of users, user access and visibility
  • Global user interface (UI) (1%)
    • UI settings and layouts
  • Security and access (15%)
    • Security options, passwords, IP restrictions, network settings
    • Sharing model
    • Security scenarios
    • Profile controls
  • Standard and custom objects (18%)
    • Object architecture and relationship model
    • Create, delete and customize fields and layouts
    • Record types
    • Field deletion implications
    • Formula fields
  • Sales and marketing applications (9%)
    • Sales process scenarios
    • Products and price books
    • Lead management
    • Queues, assignment rules, web-to-lead, auto-response
    • Campaign management
  • Service and support applications (6%)
    • Case management
    • Case automation scenarios
    • Solution management
    • Portals
    • Community app
    • Salesforce knowledge
  • Activity management (3%)
    • Tasks, events, calendars
  • Chatter (1%)
    • Chatter features: group, feed, following, security
  • Data management (11%)
    • Data import, deletion
    • Data loader, Data Import Wizard
    • Data validation
    • Data backup options
  • Content and folder management (2%)
    • Presentation assembly, content delivery, content packs, workspaces, tags
  • Analytics, reports and dashboards (13%)
    • Reports, report types
    • Charts
    • Sharing model
    • Dashboards
    • Custom report types
  • Workflow automation (7%)
    • Workflow rules and actions
  • Desktop and mobile administration (2%)
    • Salesforce mobile
    • Salesforce for Outlook
  • AppExchange (2%)

Advanced Administrator

The second of the two Salesforce Administrator certification exams is for Advanced Administrator. As the name suggests, this exam goes into more advanced subjects.

The exam follows the same pattern as the Administrator exam, with the addition of three questions (63 in total); it also requires the user to have passed the Certified Administrator exam. The following dissects the sections of the exam, as well as the content in each section:

  • Security and access (20%)
    • Sharing model, controlled by parent, grant access by hierarchies, profile vs. sharing rules, portal/communities security settings, field- and record-level access, sharing rules, field-level security, record types
    • Territory management and the implications to the sharing model
    • Custom profiles, permission sets and delegated administration
  • Extending custom objects and applications (8%)
    • Use of relationship types when building custom objects (master detail, lookup)
  • Auditing and monitoring (6%)
    • Debug log, set up audit trail
  • Sales Cloud applications (10%)
    • Products, price books, schedules and quotas
    • Forecasting (categories, hierarchy, quotas)
  • Service Cloud applications (10%)
    • Salesforce Knowledge (article types, data categories)
    • Create and maintain service entitlements and entitlement processes
    • Live Agent, Case Feed, Service Cloud Console and portals/communities
  • Data management (10%)
    • Validation, managing duplicates, enriching, archiving
  • Content management (3%)
    • Set up and maintain Salesforce content
  • Change management (10%)
    • Change sets, Force.com integrated development environment
  • Analytics, reports and dashboards (10%)
    • Custom report types, reporting snapshots, complex charting, custom summary formulas, bucketing, joined reports, cross filters, dynamic dashboards, dashboard filters
  • Process automation (13%)
    • Workflow rules, approval processes, formula fields and when to use Visualforce and Apex Triggers

As you can see above, both the Salesforce Administrator certification exam and the Advanced Administrator track require a broad and detailed understanding of the platform. As the platform is ever-changing and improving, keep a close eye on new features.

In the end, however, nothing compares with having real-world experience, and while exam prep guides and sites are really useful, you cannot replace hands-on experience.

The likelihood is there will be areas in which you need to brush up your knowledge. Spin up a developer environment to give yourself a playground to test the new things that you learn. Spend some time in Trailhead -- the Salesforce inline training environment -- where you can follow administrator-specific trails.

Finally, reach out to the community. There are hundreds of blogs, sites and communities where like-minded individuals can share information and help one another, including SalesforceBen.com and the Salesforce Developer site.

Part 1 of this series focused on how to get started with a Salesforce certification training strategy. In part 3, we will look at the Salesforce Developer certification and its requirements.

Next Steps

How to create a Salesforce training strategy

The importance of IT certifications

Expert: CRM skills training is essential

Dig Deeper on CRM careers and certifications