5 Simple Steps to a Salesforce Certification

Attaining your first Salesforce certification is a great step in launching your cloud career. And the vast majority of people start with pursuing the Administrator certification, because it is there that you learn the fundamentals of the platform.

Salesforce provides a wealth of free educational resources, primarily through Trailhead. But with that wealth of paths and options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start in gaining your certification. And many have found that they need more than just Trailhead in order to pass their certification exams.

So I’m here to share my 5 simple steps to a Salesforce certification, to help you chart your own path to certified!

5 Simple Steps to Salesforce Certification


Take a Course

The first place to start is simply learning the platform. Going through a course is probably the most efficient use of your time as you are following along as an instructor, such as myself, leads you down a logical path of learning.

PRO-TIP:  What can be sometimes overlooked is to determine what type of learner you are. Are you a self-directed learner, or do you do better in a group learning environment? It is important to research options to best suit your learning style.

RESOURCES: If you are self-directed, I recommend my Salesforce Administrator Certification course.

But, if you are more comfortable with a group-learning environment where there is interaction and greater accountability, then I highly recommend that you check out my Live Salesforce Administrator class. This will be vital for you if you tend to procrastinate, or need your questions answered in a live group setting. As part of the live training experience, we also provide you with the new on-demand Administrator course for weekly assignments. In fact, as a live student, you receive a free 3-month subscription to Mike Wheeler Media+ at no extra charge.



One common stumbling block that can discourage students in their learning journey is that they don’t know what they don’t know. This makes it very difficult for them to know where they are in their journey to reaching their goals. 

PRO-TIP: Don’t use practice tests as a means of self-assessment. I have seen learners do this and not only can it be a discouraging exercise, they don’t have guided help in assessing their weak areas and growing stronger in them.

RESOURCES: Grab my FREE, new and improved Salesforce Self-Assessment Checklist. This checklist contains the 97 topics you need to understand in order to ace the Administrator Exam. I have divided the topics up by knowledge area, based on Salesforce’s own Exam Guide.

I provide a link to Salesforce’s own online help for each of the 97 topics, as well as links to my own relevant training videos for each topic on Mike Wheeler Media+

That way, as you self-assess your preparedness for the Administrator exam, you can click through to read more about a topic in Salesforce’s online help, and click through to watch me demonstrate that topic in my video lessons.

The Self-Assessment Checklist can be revisited weekly as you progress through the course material. Students are finding that this checklist really helps them to hone in on their weak areas.


take practice tests

As with any other test preparation, it is a good idea to take practice tests. This helps you see how close you are to actually passing the certification exam.

PRO-TIP: Take a practice test, AFTER you have gone through a course. Many students skip over too much course content and go straight to practice tests. This can lead to trivia-based learning,  and makes you vulnerable to confusion from the scenario-based questions on the exam. That is because you don’t understand the concepts from this approach.

Simply put, if you understand the underlying concepts, you won’t need to worry about the wording of the questions. That’s why I recommend that you take 8-12 weeks to go deep on the concepts.

You will be tempted to take shortcuts and will want to just take practice tests, because that seems easier. But you'll find that shortcut leads to a dead-end.

RESOURCES: To assist with this journey, I have created a free 9-Week Salesforce Certified Challenge to help you set milestones and stay on track!

I also have a Practice Test Course that includes three practice tests.

Take one practice test, and then address your weak areas. Work on improving on the knowledge areas which you scored lowest in. Once you have worked through more course content and Trailhead modules on those weak areas, then wash, rinse, repeat.

You should see your scores improving on the practice tests, as well as on my Self-Assessment Checklist.

Once you have worked through all of my practice tests, I’d recommend taking one final practice test from Salesforce themselves, on WebAssessor. Save this one for last and treat it like the real test. 


More T.O.P. 

(Time on Platform)

To greatly improve your odds of passing the exam, spend more and more time on the Salesforce platform. There is nothing like spending time on the platform to get these concepts rooted in your mind.

PRO-TIP: Learning about real world scenarios can actually count as Time On Platform. While nothing beats that actual hands on experience, you can also grasp these concepts by learning about real world scenarios and hear how others have found real world answers to their real world questions.

RESOURCES:  I have a playlist on my YouTube channel to help with just that. It is a playlist for lunch-time learning – these are small segments pulled from previous live Q&A sessions where I answer real-world questions related to the Salesforce platform. You can keep these videos playing in the background during your lunch or anytime to reinforce your learning, keep your mind on the platform and to keep your momentum moving forward.

I also created a free Cloud Career Launch Action Plan to teach you how to leverage the power of Salesforce for Marketing, Sales and Service in your favor to optimize your job pursuits. I also have a free Portfolio Power Hour Workshop, where I teach you how to create your own portfolio on the Salesforce platform. This is a valuable resource that serves a dual purpose.  It gives you Time On Platform and prepares you for a job once certified.

One more offering I have to help you with these goals is a brand new product I have created called the Career Launch Accelerator. This is a 28-day class with daily work assignments, taking you through the process of building three apps that you can put in your portfolio.

All of the above gives you a lot more T.O.P. – Time on Platform, which also gives you real-world experience to provide further context to apply what you are learning.


schedule your test

Once you have worked through a course, self-assessed and strengthened weak areas, taken practice tests and spent Time On Platform, you are ready to schedule and take your test. 

PRO TIP: Go ahead and schedule your test right before you feel you are fully ready. Many learners wait until they feel completely ready to even schedule their test which causes them to be always putting it off into the future. Because the truth is, you will never FEEL ready. You will always have one more thing you want to fully understand. By scheduling the test, you have given yourself a deadline. You will find that you study more efficiently and diligently in that last week or last month because of the test date looming.

RESOURCES: As you are nearing your test date, watch several student success stories on my YouTube channel. This will inspire and motivate you as you envision your success story reaching its completion. 

CONCLUSION: I am confident that if you follow these steps, you’ll be ready to take the exam. Once you pass that certification, share your good news on social media. Tag me on LinkedIn and I will endorse your skills. 

A Cloud Career is right around the corner. Join the thousands who have found the flexibility and freedom on this career path. 

Stay focused. Stay determined. And I will see YOU in the Cloud.