How to Become a Salesforce Developer: Your Complete Guide

Aleksandra Velickovic

December 16, 2023

What if there came a single platform that would revolutionise the entire customer relationship market? And just like that, Salesforce appears! What started as just another piece of software quickly became a business game-changer. With its massive 23% market share and a staggering $200 billion-plus valuation, Salesforce is more than a tech phenomenon – it’s a business revolution​​​​. With over 3 million Salesforce development job openings in 2023, this field is sizzling​​. If you want to unlock a lucrative career in IT, all you need is the right roadmap. Keep reading and learn how to become a Salesforce developer in 2024!

What is Salesforce?

Salesforce is a cloud-based software company known primarily for its customer relationship management (CRM) product. Founded in 1999, Salesforce was one of the first companies to deliver CRM solutions over the Internet, popularizing the Software as a Service (SaaS) model that we all know today.

Salesforce’s services allow businesses to use cloud technology to better connect with customers, partners, and potential customers. The software has become widely popular for its ease of use, adaptability, and extensive features that can be customized to meet the needs of various businesses.

What is a Salesforce Developer?

A Salesforce developer is essentially a digital architect, designing, building, and refining the technological backbone of companies. They are the connection between business needs and tech solutions

As CRMs evolve, Salesforce developers play a crucial role in customizing and enhancing them to suit business needs. Their day-to-day responsibilities include:

  • Custom Application Development: Using Apex, Visualforce, and Lightning Web Components to create tailored Salesforce solutions.
  • System Integration: Seamlessly integrating Salesforce with other systems and APIs.
  • Data Management and Analytics: Managing data flows and creating analytical tools for better decision-making.
  • User Interface Design: Developing intuitive and effective user interfaces for enhanced user experience.

How much does a Salesforce developer make?

When it comes to earnings, Salesforce developers are doing pretty well for themselves. So, let’s talk numbers – and they’re pretty impressive:

  • Average Earnings: Around $87,000/year in the U.S.
  • Top Earners: Can exceed $130,000/year.
  • Extra Perks? Often, yes. Bonuses, benefits, and more.

How long does it take to become a Salesforce developer? 

How long before you can start cashing in those checks? 

Typically, your path to becoming a skilled Salesforce developer will take 14-16 months, encompassing a comprehensive understanding of Salesforce Administration, followed by mastering the Platform Developer I (PDI) exam.

Becoming a Salesforce developer requires time and dedication, but it’s worth it.

So, how do you get from here to there? Here’s your roadmap, plain and simple:

  1. Learning Phase (6-8 months): Learn the Salesforce basics.
  2. Certification Time (3-4 months): Aim for that Salesforce Admin certification.
  3. Advanced Training (5-6 months): Dive into the Platform Developer I (PDI) exam prep.

This period is an investment in building a strong foundation in both the technical and functional aspects, equipping Salesforce developers with the skills they need to excel in this dynamic field​​​​​​.

What makes Salesforce a game-changer?

Salesforce has revolutionized the CRM landscape for several compelling reasons:

  • Cloud-based Innovation: Salesforce led the shift to cloud-based CRM solutions, offering accessibility and flexibility unmatched by traditional systems.
  • Customization and Scalability: It allows businesses of all sizes to tailor and scale their CRM solutions, ensuring they meet specific needs and grow with the company.
  • Integration Capabilities: Salesforce seamlessly integrates with other applications and systems, enhancing overall business operations.
  • Data-Driven Insights: It provides powerful analytics and reporting tools, giving businesses critical insights into customer behaviour and sales trends.
  • Continuous Evolution: Salesforce is continually updating and introducing new features, staying ahead in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

This combination of features makes Salesforce not just a tool, but a strategic asset for businesses, transforming how they connect with customers and manage relationships. If you’re looking to become a Salesforce developer, you are embarking on a lucrative and exciting career path.

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What Skills and Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Salesforce Developer?

What does it take to succeed in this field? Let’s dive in and explore the essential skills and qualifications you’ll need to thrive as a Salesforce developer.

Core technical skills

To excel as a Salesforce developer, a strong foundation in certain technical skills is crucial:

  • Apex, Visualforce, and Lightning Components: These are the main components of Salesforce. Proficiency in Apex (Salesforce’s proprietary programming language), Visualforce (the framework for building custom user interfaces), and the Lightning Component Framework (for developing dynamic web apps on the Salesforce platform) is paramount​​.
  • Familiarity with Programming Languages: A good grasp of programming languages like JavaScript and Python is beneficial. This knowledge will not only aid in understanding Salesforce’s functionality but also in customizing and extending its capabilities​​.
  • UX and UI Design Best Practices: Understanding design thinking and user-centred design is essential. As a Salesforce developer, you’ll need to ensure that the applications you develop are not only functional but also provide a seamless user experience​​.
  • Software Testing Skills: Being skilled in testing software and making necessary adjustments is critical. This ensures the reliability and effectiveness of your Salesforce applications​​.

Understanding CRM concepts and the Salesforce ecosystem

A Salesforce developer must have a deep understanding of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) concepts. This involves knowing how to navigate, customize, and manage basic CRM features within the Salesforce platform. 

Familiarity with Salesforce’s ecosystem is key to leveraging its full potential to meet various business needs​​.

Importance of soft skills in Salesforce development

While technical skills are essential, soft skills are equally crucial for success in this field.

How to Gain Practical Experience as a Salesforce Developer?

Becoming a Salesforce developer goes beyond theoretical knowledge; it’s about diving into the practical side of things. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the crucial steps to gain the hands-on experience you need to stand out in the competitive world of Salesforce development.

Why hands-on experience matters

It’s no secret that in the Salesforce ecosystem, having hands-on experience is a key requirement for most jobs. While you may find yourself in the classic dilemma of needing experience to get a job but needing a job to gain experience, there are other ways to build this essential expertise​​.

How to build practical skills outside of employment

  1. Leverage Salesforce Developer Resources: Salesforce offers resources like the Salesforce Developer Edition and Trailhead. These platforms are not just free but are goldmines for learning and applying your knowledge in real-world scenarios​​.
  2. Personal Projects: Don’t underestimate the power of projects. By building apps or working on projects you’re passionate about, you can acquire a deep understanding of Salesforce development. This approach is a great way to showcase your skills to potential employers​​.
  3. Volunteer Work: Engaging in volunteer work that utilizes Salesforce can provide practical experience. This way, you can develop your skills while making a positive impact.
  4. Internships and Entry-Level Jobs: While it might seem challenging to get your foot in the door, internships and entry-level positions are excellent ways to immerse yourself in the Salesforce world. These opportunities offer a more structured environment for learning and can be a stepping stone to more advanced roles​​.
  5. Join Salesforce Communities: Being part of Salesforce communities can help you stay updated with the latest trends and network with other professionals. This can lead to collaborative projects, mentorship opportunities, and insights into industry practices.
  6. Salesforce Project Experience: In the Salesforce domain, project experience goes beyond enhancing your resume; it’s an integral part of professional development. Look for opportunities to work on Salesforce projects, even small scale, to build a strong basis​​.

By following these steps, you can build the practical experience you need to become a Salesforce developer and excel in the field! 

Which Certifications Should You Pursue?

Embarking on a journey to become a Salesforce Developer involves not just learning the ropes but also getting the right certifications under your belt. 

Salesforce certifications are designed to validate your expertise and skills in the Salesforce platform. They range from entry-level to advanced, catering to various aspects of Salesforce, such as administration, development, and specific product knowledge.

Top Salesforce certifications necessary to become a certified Salesforce developer

  1. Salesforce Certified Associate: These are brand new entry-level certifications focusing on foundational Salesforce knowledge. They are ideal for beginners, emphasizing theoretical understanding over hands-on expertise​​.
  2. Salesforce Certified Administrator: A mid-level certification requiring 1-2 years of experience. This certification ensures you have a comprehensive understanding of Salesforce administration, an essential skill for any developer​​.
  3. Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator: Building on the Administrator certification, this mid-level qualification, requiring similar experience, delves deeper into the advanced functionalities and administrative features of Salesforce​​.
  4. Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder: This certification is for those with 1-2 years of experience and focuses on building custom applications on the Salesforce platform, a vital skill for developers​​.
  5. Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I: An entry-level certification for developers, requiring 3-6 months of experience. It focuses on the foundational aspects of Salesforce development and does not require prior Salesforce certifications​​.
  6. Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II: A step up from Developer I, this mid-level certification requires 2-4 years of experience and completion of the Platform Developer I certification. It covers more advanced development aspects of Salesforce​​.
  7. Salesforce Certified JavaScript Developer I: This entry-level certification, requiring 1-2 years of experience, is tailored for developers focusing on JavaScript within the Salesforce ecosystem​​.
  8. Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA): This is the highest certification level and is ideal for those who have deep expertise in Salesforce and want to design robust solutions for complex business problems.

Preparing for Salesforce certification exams

Each of these certifications requires preparation and study, often involving practical experience and knowledge of Salesforce’s latest updates. Additionally, engaging in Salesforce communities and using online resources like Trailhead can greatly assist in your preparation for these certifications.

The goal is not just to pass an exam but to deeply understand and apply Salesforce concepts in real-world scenarios.

5 Ways to Excel in Salesforce Development

With Salesforce’s substantial market presence and the growing demand for skilled workers, the journey promises challenges and rewards. Here are some steps that will help you become a successful Salesforce developer.

#1: Stay up-to-date with Salesforce releases and updates

Just like following your favourite sports team, keep an eye on what’s new with Salesforce. This means checking out their website, reading updates, and even signing up for their newsletters. Salesforce continually evolves, introducing new features and improvements. 

A view of resources on Salesforce website which someone can access to become a Salesforce developer
The official Salesforce website offers ample resources you can use. (source: https://developer.salesforce.com/)

#2 Keep learning and practising

Learning never stops, especially in the tech world. There are tons of online courses and training sessions specifically for Salesforce. Plus, the best way to learn is by doing. Try out new features, play around with the tools, and build something. It’s like learning to cook—you get better by trying out new recipes!

#3: Participate in webinars, workshops, and Salesforce events

Imagine a big online party where everyone loves Salesforce. That’s what webinars and workshops are like. You’ll meet people who are also learning, just like you and experts who’ve been doing this for years. It’s a great way to learn new tricks and make friends who can help you along the way.

#4: Find your favourite part of Salesforce

Salesforce is like a Swiss Army knife—it has many tools. Once you become a Salesforce developer, you can focus on marketing, sales, customer service, and more. Find out which part you like best and learn everything about it.

#5: Seek out mentorship opportunities

Mentorship is a powerful tool for career advancement. Finding a mentor within the Salesforce community can provide guidance, industry insights, and valuable feedback on your work. Connecting with mentors through Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community or LinkedIn can open doors to new learning opportunities and professional growth.

How to Find a Job as a Salesforce Developer

Let’s dive into the practical steps to launch your career in Salesforce development.

Create a portfolio to showcase your Salesforce projects

Show, don’t just tell. Building a portfolio is like crafting a visual resume. Gather all the Salesforce projects you’ve worked on. This could be anything from small apps you’ve developed to larger projects you contributed to. 

Think of it as your gallery of achievements. It’s your chance to impress potential employers with what you’ve done, not just what you know.

Explore job platforms

The internet is your oyster when it comes to job hunting. Websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor are goldmines for job opportunities. But here’s the kicker – don’t just look for jobs labelled ‘Salesforce Developer’. Broaden your search to roles that require Salesforce skills. You might find opportunities you hadn’t considered before.

Consult recruitment agencies

Sometimes, it’s about who you know, not just what you know. Recruitment agencies can be a bridge to your dream job. They have the inside scoop on companies looking for Salesforce talent and can match you with roles that fit your skills and aspirations. Think of them as matchmakers in the IT world.

People looking at a laptop screen, finding Salesforce developers
Recruitment agencies often have the best tips on how to score the Salesforce developer job of your dreams.

Final Words: Your Journey as a Salesforce Developer

Wanting to become a Salesforce developer is an adventure, not just a career path. It’s about continually learning, creating, and growing in an ever-evolving landscape. Always remember this: every expert was once a beginner. So, start building, keep exploring, and stay curious. Your Salesforce journey is just beginning, and the possibilities are endless.

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