How Hard Is Salesforce Admin Certification?


Getting a Salesforce certification grants a person at least three competitive advantages:

  • Become in-demand in the IT profession that’s growing more competitive
  • Flexibility in building a career path by choosing specific certifications
  • Allowing to ask for a higher salary based on the number of certifications

At least seven out of ten professionals worldwide hold at least one Salesforce certification, with Administrator being the most sought after. Those who manage to secure one enjoy a salary hike of an average of 24%. If not a salary hike, they sometimes get additional benefits, like insurance plans, gadgets, and more paid time offs. (2)

While a significant addition to one’s skillset, the road to Salesforce certification is steep. Most takers tend to pass on their second attempt, which, by that point, has already cost them plenty of hours and money. Just how difficult is getting certified as a Salesforce admin, and how can one make it easier on their part? (3)

The Certification Test

The Salesforce certification administrator exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions with a 65% passing rate (39 items). Normally, the test is taken at test centers, most of which are located in the big cities. Due to the pandemic, among other factors, proctors allow people to take the test remotely, though still closely monitored via webcam. The time limit is one hour and 45 minutes.

The role of a Salesforce admin is to assist clients in tailoring Salesforce to fulfill specific needs. Aside from keeping the platform operational, they must have sufficient technical knowledge to customize or troubleshoot when necessary. As such, expect most of the questions to be scenarios where there’s more than one right answer (but only counts as one point).

Already, the stringency of the exam can be seen, but there’s more. It costs USD$200 to take the certification test, while USD$100 to retake it (both prices exclude taxes). While there’s no limit on the number of retakes, constantly retaking the exam can burn through your finances fast.

Studying Alone Not Enough

The exam questions cover seven topics, all essential skills in operating the Salesforce platform. Below is the distribution, as described by Salesforce, in descending order:

  • Configuration and setup – 20%
  • Object Manager and Lightning App builder – 20%
  • Workflow/process automation – 16%
  • Data and analytics management – 14%
  • Sales and marketing applications – 12%
  • Service and support applications – 11%
  • Productivity and collaboration – 7%

Certification courses cover these topics, which ideally should take months of study to have a higher chance of passing. Despite this, many still fail the test on their first try. Studying alone won’t be enough; having hands-on experience before certification helps immensely.

Roughly 40% of professionals all over the globe possess at most three years of working with the platform, while 33% have up to six years. Some of them even have experience using competitor platforms before moving to Salesforce. Others take it a step further, working with the company itself for years before forging their respective ventures. (2)

Given the scenario-based questions the exam features, experience is an indispensable asset in preparing for the exam. Not every important detail can be found in the course materials.

Yearly Maintenance

Passing the certification exam results in certification, but it doesn’t last forever. As of Spring 2020, Salesforce-certified professionals have to accomplish a maintenance module for their certification every year. For Salesforce-certified basic and advanced administrators, the module in question is the Administrator maintenance module, which is updated every spring. (5)

Like any facet of modern tech, Salesforce is constantly evolving. Certified professionals have to hone their craft, learning new things and updating old ones to serve their clients better. They do plenty of testing in tailoring custom-made Salesforce platforms. The updates to these modules reflect current technological trends, preparing professionals for the future.

Being unable to complete the module within the allotted time frame will result in decertification. You’ll have to take the certification exam again to be recertified.


Overall, getting certified as a Salesforce admin is hard for good reasons.

Companies rely on this platform to manage their customer relationship management systems. A single mistake made by someone lacking skill or experience in using Salesforce can cost them dearly in the long run. Certification programs exist to teach professionals the nuts and bolts of the platform and maximizing its potential.

CRM. Customer relationship management concept. Customer service and relationship.

While difficult, it’s not impossible. With enough motivation to learn and improve, the things one needs to be Salesforce-certified will eventually fall into place. They can enjoy being a part of a skillset for which businesses are more than willing to pay top dollar.  


  1. “Salesforce certification guide: Your path to a lucrative career,”   
  2. “Mason Frank Salary Survey,” (downloadable PDF) 
  3. “What is the success rate in certification exam?” 
  4. “Salesforce Certified Administrator,” 
  5. “Maintain Your Salesforce Credential,”


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