How to Prepare for Certification

Salesforce CertifiedAt OpFocus, we place a lot of emphasis on our team members achieving and maintaining certifications. They provide a valuable measuring stick of know-how and experience for both employers and those managing their own careers. If you are considering a career move toward working with Salesforce, achieving a certification will make that move easier. If you are looking to hire people with skills, you can improve your outcome by focusing on candidates with certifications.

As of January 2013, the current set of Certifications includes:

Certifications Questions Pass % & Time Fee/Retake
Proctored in person or online [Prereq: none]
60 multi-choice 65% w/ 90 min USD$200/100
Advanced Administrator
Proctored in person or online [Prereq: Administrator]
60 multi-choice 67% w/90 min USD$200/100
Sales Cloud Consultant
Proctored in person or online [Prereq: Administrator]
60 multi-choice 68% w/ 105 min USD$200/100
Services Cloud Consultant
Proctored in person or online [Prereq: Administrator]
60 multi-choice 68% w/ 105 min USD$200/100
Proctored in person or online [Prereq: none]
60 multi-choice 68% w/ 90 min USD$200/100
Advanced Developer
Approx 20 hour assignment • 3-5 Essays on assignment [Prereq: Developer]
69 multi-choice Assignment • Proctored Essay 73% w/ 120 min 30 days 60 min USD$400/200
Technical Architect
Self eval is online, un-proctored • Proctored in person or online • Present in person or online [Prereq: Developer]
42 multi-choice • 60 multi-choice • Review Board 63% w/ 30 min • 120 min • 4hrs Free • USD $250/500 • USD $6,000


If you can afford the time away from work and the cost, training courses can certainly help you prepare for the certification exams.’s training team offers both online and in-person courses on a number of topics and levels.  If you have Salesforce’s Premier Success Plan,  you already have access to a library of many pre-recorded Salesforce courses.  There are also Salesforce partner firms offering training courses either online or in various locations.  OpFocus offers admin classes to prepare new hires for the Admin Certification a few times each year and opens its classes to the public.

Beyond training, however, preparation for these exams requires self-study and hands-on practice.  One challenge with Salesforce’s relentless pace of new releases is that traditional book publishing can’t keep up.  Thankfully’s own documentation team does a FANTASTIC job of keeping the documentation set current to each new release.  There is more in Help than you realize!  For hands-on practice and self study we strongly recommend a combination of the following:

  1. Review the Study Guide provided for each Certification.  See the grid above to find links to each certification’s page, where the study guides are provided.
  2. Read Salesforce’s documentation for each study guide topic.  Simply search within Help to learn more.
  3. Practice each feature within a Developer Org.  You can sign up for a Developer Edition org at

One key value of Certifications is that in order to maintain the certified status, you must pass a “maintenance exam” for each new release.  Salesforce typically has three major releases each year, meaning that there are three catch up exams to complete. Each year, two of these are free, and one costs $100. You must pass all prior release exams in order to complete the current exam. Maintenance exams are taken open book, on-line, and usually consist of 15 or so multiple choice questions to be completed within 30 minutes. Each release’s site and release notes provide ample information to use in preparing for the maintenance exams- though hands on time playing with each new feature in a free Developer Edition org or a Sandbox helps.

Please use the Comments section below to let us know of your ways of successfully preparing for certification!

David Carnes - Founder & CEO

about the author

David Carnes

David’s role as Chairman & Chief Digital Evangelist is centered around driving meaningful client engagement and business development. The key to this is serving as an advisor to OpFocus’ SaaS clients as they scale their revenue operations and embrace digital transformation.

In his early career, David worked in IT and operations for software companies, developing an interest in CRM, marketing automation, and analytics while building out systems, processes, data, and reporting for the business teams he supported. He earned a Masters in Software Engineering and credits a Harvard summer class in database management for opening his eyes to what systems could do to support operations. In founding OpFocus in 2006 David took another step toward focusing on business operations, seizing on Salesforce’s vision and never looking back.

David is a frequent speaker at Salesforce and Salesforce community events around the world, mentors through the Trailblazer Mentorship Program hosts Dashboard Dōjō, and serves as a Platform Champion and a Pi-TaP board member. Due to his involvement in the trailblazer community, David’s recently been awarded the position of Salesforce MVP!