Inside four years I have passed the 9 exams on the Salesforce Architect pyramid (including the two optional Admin and Experience Cloud exams), and now have both Salesforce Certified System Architect and Salesforce Certified Application Architect.
The following are some observations along the way:
- Certifications give you much more than just badges. They will expose you to features and practices for your real work that you may not have otherwise seen or considered. Many problems in complex orgs are that either the designers not fully understanding the platform, or not sufficiently selling the benefits of lower customization to stakeholders.
- It took me four years but speed was not my focus. It should be done at whatever pace works for you. You could do them all in 1 year, but then you are probably just doing it for the sake of badges and may not fully absorb the lessons learnt
- Pandemic lockdown had a big impact on my learning. After working all day at home it was very hard to be motivated to study in the same location. I took just one Salesforce exam in 2021
- Experience Cloud Consultant was optional, but still very useful. The subject matter also covered questions that would appear in many of the Architect level exams as well
- Administrator was very hard because the questions could be about almost any setup feature. It can be useful to have, but if you are committed to the full Architect journey then you can probably skip it
- Development Lifecycle Architect turned out to be an easy one. I’ve not had to be ‘hands on’ with any Salesforce deployment, however development and release planning means you really need to understand your sandboxes. Understanding sandbox refreshes, licenses and best practice is valuable.
- Integration Architect was tough because it was full of multiple correct answers, and you have to choose the ‘most correct’ from the writers perspective. Did not enjoy.
- Sharing and Visibility Architect was probably the most valuable learning I’ve had from all the certificates. Even if you’ve worked with complex orgs, there is probably some features of sharing that you have yet to discover.
- Focus on Force was great for all exams on the CAA side of things. Recommend paying the reasonable price (USD $20 each) for the practice exams. The learning modules are also good although optional.
- Check out https://scuvanov.github.io/SalesforceCertScoreCalculator/ after each exam to see how close you probably were. This is not exact, but if you need to plan your retake then it is good to know if you were a couple of questions out or maybe much more.
Additional notes on costs:
- Three exams I received vouchers from local community groups. Others I was able to find a modest voucher online.
- Salesforce run cert days —Salesforce Certification Days that give discounts on the USD $200 exams in exchange for attendance
- ‘Architect’ level exams (USD $400) have far fewer applicable vouchers in circulation. Vouchers for the ‘standard’ (USD $200) exams often do not apply.
- Reddit users often lists new voucher codes: Salesforce (reddit.com)
- Paying $20 for Focus on Force practice tests can save you the $100 or $200 retake cost for the exam. I am satisfied with my purchase of all of them (and passed first time with their help)
- The full price of Salesforce exams are actually pretty good value by IT industry standards. Employers will value the certs far higher than you paid for them.