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How to be a Homegrown Salesforce Administrator

10.6.16 By: Rob Jordan

Are you interested in becoming a Salesforce Administrator but are unable to afford the cost of training and certification? You’re not alone.


You're in luck, though. As the demand for Salesforce Administrators grows, many new tools have popped up to help you learn the fundamentals and more. Below are some steps you can take toward becoming a Salesforce Administrator, with or without certification. If you follow these steps, you can expect to achieve strong competency in roughly two to three months time.


Learn the solution.


First and foremost, the most effective way to learn Salesforce fundamentals is through the learning center called Trailhead. Touted as “The fun way to learn Salesforce”, Trailhead offers “trails” that address the fundamentals of every skill set from Administrative Beginner to Developer. They even have a trail specifically for Nonprofits!


“Badges” can be earned as you progress and complete challenges.  Completing one or all of these modules while obtaining the subsequent badges will not only establish your credentials with your staff but give you a great foundation to build a career. Two great supplements to this training are The Definitive Admin Handbook or Teach Yourself Visually, both of which can be found on


Manage your efforts.


Secondly, it’s not enough to know Salesforce. You also need to learn the fundamentals of project management. Simply put, there are two schools of thought regarding project management methodology. One is referred to as “Waterfall” and the other is called “Agile”.


Waterfall basically adheres to the notion that you plan extensively before you begin development. Agile, on the other hand, approaches development in an iterative approach. Due to the pliable configuration qualities of Salesforce, Agile project Management tends to be the standard for Salesforce Administrators. 

We’ve come to find a blended approach of project management styles allows us to take advantage of beneficial components from each methodology, instead of being limited to one methodology. Through this blended approach, we’re able to use the benefits from a planning-first perspective like Waterfall while combining the benefits of iterative building from Agile practices.

We recommend Asana as a great PM tool to facilitate development efforts when more than one person is involved in the effort. We recommend finding a tool that works for you as you advance in your Salesforce training.


Support yourself.


Third, you'll need to find your support system. From experience we can tell you, you will always need to find answers on the fly. You can do so through paid services, like Salesforce Premier Support (SPP) or an Idealist Consulting Admin Support (our customer support for Salesforce Admins). Typically SPP is ideal for general inquiries and custom support is ideal for organizations that have a less than common build out.


You should also leverage unpaid solutions like joining your local Salesforce User Group or the Power of Us HUB, an online resource center supported by the Salesforce foundation. Additional free resources include Salesforce Ninja and SalesforceSaint. And, of course, you should not forget the Salesforce Help and Training that every user can access. A good starting point with Salesforce Help and Training is the “Before you start”, which will help you navigate the bottomless pool of information available.


Plan accordingly.


One day you may be ready to make it official and take the admin exam. You can set yourself up for success by preparing correctly. This includes learning the system, which you will have already achieved if you followed the steps outlined above. You can also take practices tests like the one you can find here. And, finally, signing up to take the exam.


It is our experience that preparing to be an administrator exam takes roughly 40 hours of studying time and an actual 80 hours of “flight time” where you have actually worked with the platform. Here are some additional tips that may be helpful through this journey.


Becoming a homegrown admin is an iterative approach and can take many paths. If you need help planning that path or want to schedule training time with one of our skilled consultants feel free to reach out to us directly.

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