Author: Peggy Schael | Salesforce Trainer | WeLearnSalesforce
“Success isn’t overnight. It’s when every day you get a little better than the day before. It all adds up.”Dwayne Johnson | actor and former pro-wrestler
One of the most popular questions around Salesforce Certifications is how long or how much time it takes to get ready for the Salesforce Certification Exam. And this is indeed a very important question to ask yourself. Understanding the timing will help you prepare accordingly and avoid the frustration.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, we can certainly apply a rule of thumb to give you some direction. Therefore, in this article we will break down the most relevant factors that will contribute to the date you’ll register your Salesforce Certification Exam for. These factors include:
- Your Salesforce experience
- Your available study time per week
- Study materials at your disposal
- Your Salesforce career plans
- Your desired Salesforce Certification exam date
Your Salesforce Experience
Have you had any experience with Salesforce yet? If yes, then we need to look at the type of experience.
This includes the type of Salesforce User, the type of Salesforce Org, type of involvement, and time spent in the system. Here are a few examples of what this may look like:
Type of Salesforce User:
- Trailhead Learner completing Trailhead Modules and Projects
- Salesforce Business User like a sales person using the User Interface, not the Setup
- Salesforce Administrator working in the system setup
Type of Salesforce Org:
- Trailhead Playground/Developer Org
- Production Org such as Enterprise Edition, Essential Edition etc.
- Robust org setup or disorganized org
Type of involvement:
- Trailhead Learner completing step-by-step projects or completing complex SuperBadges
- Business User working in the User Interface only, no Salesforce Setup
- System Administrator configuring the Salesforce Setup, differentiating between simple setup items (e.g. setting up Users) or complex customizations (creating Custom Objects/Apps, Workflows, Flows etc.)
Time spent in the system:
- Daily usage
- A few hours per week
- Irregular login
Where do you think you fit in? How confident do you feel about your experience with Salesforce?
Based on your previous experience, you may consider the following time frames:
0 Experience: 3-6 months
6 months+ Experience: 6-8 weeks
12 months+ Experience: 3-4 weeks
However, you need to consider how much time you can afford to study. Therefore, let’s look at the weekly study time and how this can affect your timeline.
Hours Per Week You Have Time to Study for your Salesforce Certification Exam
What does your daily life look like? Are you currently working a full-time job? Do you have kids or other people to care for? Do you have any leisure activities/hobbies to attend to?
This will help you determine how much time you can free up to focus on your Salesforce studies. You have various options, such as studying full-time or part-time or casually.
If we take the number of hours per day or week into consideration, the time frame may look like this:
And that’s not all, yet. We also need to look at the study materials you’re learning with as well as your learning pace to work through the materials.
Salesforce Study Materials at Your Disposal
You’ve got a lot of options to choose from in regards to how you are learning all the Salesforce Certification knowledge topics. These include Trailhead Modules/Project, video tutorials, study workbooks, practice exams, quizzes, and others.
If you are a Salesforce Newbie, you will certainly have more knowledge topics, or more material, to work through than someone with prior experience. And even if you are experienced, you may need to work through topics you thought you are confident in to make sure you’re not missing something you may not have been exposed to yet. At least, that’s what I’d suggest you should do. 🤓
What’s the best way to learn all that Salesforce knowledge to prepare for your certification exam?
With so much content out there, we’ve collated the essential details into a comprehensive Salesforce Certification Guide. It’s an 8-step guide telling you exactly what you should do in order to reach your exam day and pass at the first attempt. It also includes important information about what happens after you got certified. Because this is where your career really starts off. 👔
Your exam day will only be as successful as the Salesforce knowledge and skills you are bringing with you. The key to a successful exam day, therefore, is HOW you prepare yourself.
This means learning the right content in an effective way for your brain to absorb all that knowledge and retain it. It’s not just about “learning” it’s about “understanding”. There is science behind this, combined with real-life experience from other Salesforce learners.
Here are the recommended study materials that will help you prepare and give you the confidence for your exam day YOU want to have:
Salesforce’s Trailhead Modules and Projects – Each Salesforce Certification requires a different set of knowledge and tools. You will learn these through Trailhead Modules and Projects. The ones relevant for the Salesforce Certification you are preparing for are collated into so-called Trailmixes.
Salesforce Video Tutorials – Video tutorials are a great way to learn in a well-structured and coordinated way. Especially if you are a visual learner who prefers some guidance. Our video tutorials will not only help you “learn” but will offer plenty of opportunities for self-guided practice to help you “understand” what you’ve been learning about.
Salesforce Study Workbook – If you enjoy reading, taking notes, and even like to print out pages to pin at your desk, then our Study Workbooks are perfect for you. They give you a summary of all exam knowledge topics for review, and also include links to the Trailmixes mentioned earlier, so you can deepen your hands-on practice.
Salesforce Practice Exams – I believe these are a must-have for everyone. Because they do two things. One, get you familiar with the exam format and complexity of questions and answers. Two, they help you determine whether you are actually ready to take the exam. They are used to identify your strength and weaknesses, including detailed explanations and additional learning resources to strengthen your weaker knowledge areas.
NOTE: If you are a Salesforce Newbie, I would not recommend to start learning with Practice Exams, rather use them at a later point in time. They are meant to check in on your existing knowledge of the Salesforce features and functionalities.
And again, it depends on your prior experience. Salesforce Newbies may need all of the study materials, Salesforce Experienced may only need the Study Workbook and/or Practice Exams. Choose for yourself, it’s YOUR Salesforce Career!
And this brings us to the next factor.
Your Salesforce Career Plans
Now, we need to look at your Salesforce Career plans. This means, how important is the Salesforce Certification to you and how fast are you looking to use it to make a career move.
A Salesforce Certification is not a must-have to move into a Salesforce job, however, it will likely open more doors if you have at least one. You may even be in a current Salesforce job, maybe as an accidental Administrator, and you’re considering adding that Salesforce Certification to your CV but you’re not in a rush.
The urgency to gain the Salesforce Certification will also determine your exam deadline. And this takes us to the last but certainly not least factor.
Your Desired Salesforce Certification Exam Date
If you already have a date in mind, you can take the table from above and count backward to determine how many hours per week you would potentially have to study.
You’re desired exam date is 4 weeks from today. Two scenarios:
- As a Salesforce Newbie, you’d have to study almost 240 hours per week. 🤯 I guess this is not very realistic. You may need to consider moving out that exam date.
- As a Salesforce Experienced, you’d have to study 40-120 hours per week based on the type of experience. You may or may not be able to make it in 4 weeks.
🌶 Keep it realistic, and use the table above to determine your potential exam date. Yes, you can book your exam date already. This may help to push you forwards. However, if it’s an unrealistic date, you may get super stressed out and even fail while you could have prevented that by setting a realistic date.
If you are not sure whether you should book your exam date already or not, I’d suggest you get started with your learning curriculum. As you progress over the next few days or weeks, you get a feel on how well you are managing the complexity of the knowledge topics and your learning pace. Remember to make use of the Practice Exams to determine your exam readiness. Once you have a better idea, you can certainly go ahead and book that exam date.
We provide a Study Checklist to track your learning progress in combination with a traffic light system. This will give you a good idea of whether you are leaning more towards the sooner or later exam date.
Extended Hands-on Practice
Hands-on practice is included in any of the above-mentioned study materials. However, if you are a Salesforce Newbie or even if it’s just a few new topics you are studying, you should double-up your hands-on practice. The more you get your hands on the system, the better you’re learning success will be. And learning success means “understanding” your knowledge topic, which in turn will help you pass the exam. PLUS, retain the knowledge for your upcoming job interview.
This means you can either retake the Trailhead Modules/Projects in a new Trailhead Playground, or try on your own in a Developer Org. Alternatively, go and complete Trailhead Superbadges. They are based on real-life business scenarios and requirements which you need to set up in a Trailhead Playground all by yourself without any guidance. They are pretty tough and therefore the perfect way to really deepen your Salesforce skills. Yes, they do require a bit more time and patience. You can skip them, however, I’d really recommend you complete the ones listed in your Trailmixes. Superbadges can even be linked to your LinkedIn profile page, just like you can with your Salesforce Certification. That should tell you something. 💡
Here’s one which is part of the Salesforce Administrator Credential Trailmix:
Provides an extensive library of product features, knowledge articles, how-to documentation and so much more. While you are studying through your knowledge topics, you may want to read through some of the provided references on help.salesforce.com. They often contain additional or contributing information you should at least have a browse through. This also helps you get familiar with Salesforce Help and how to use it, because you’re going to need it, not only to prepare for your exam but also as an on-the-job reference. 🤓
Salesforce Release Notes
Contain important updates to the Salesforce platform. Each Salesforce Certification Exam is based on a release cycle. Which release cycle it is, is provided to you on the exam guide. Therefore, before you sit the exam, it helps to have a look at the exam relevant topics.
For example, if you are studying for the Salesforce Administrator, you should have a look at Analytics, Configuration, Einstein Automate, Sales, Marketing and Service.
This should give you plenty to contemplate. I hope you’ve been finding this helpful to determine your realistic exam date. Let me know in the comments when you are planning to take your Salesforce Certification Exam. We’re here to support you and help you keep going!
We make learning Salesforce simple with our range of well-structured Salesforce Video Tutorials, downloadable Study Workbooks, and realistic Practice Exams. Available for Salesforce Administrator, Advanced Administrator, Platform App Builder and more.
All materials are in line with the official Salesforce Certification Exam Outline including regular release updates.