Salesforce Certification Series: Administrator


The Salesforce Administrator Certification is intended for Salesforce experts who specialize in managing users, data, and security, maintaining and customizing Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications, and building reports, dashboards, and workflow.

The Administrator certification, also called ADM201, is the first Salesforce certification you should attempt to take. By passing the Administrator certification, it ensures you have a working knowledge of the Salesforce platform, specifically the sharing model.

As of Summer ’13:

  • 60 question, multiple choice exam (includes multi-select questions)
  • 65% is the passing score (39 questions correct)
  • 90 minutes to answer all questions
  • $200 fee with $100 retake fee
  • Prerequisite: None

Personal Experience

I passed my Salesforce Administrator certification on the Winter ’12 release. By the time I took the exam, I was working with the Salesforce platform for about 4 months. I actually found the exam to be relatively easy, but I had also already passed the Salesforce Developer certification.

From my experience, I found the Salesforce Study Guide to be pretty accurate for all of the exams. Also, if you are a partner, you can find training videos in the Partner Portal which contains all of the videos listed under “Recommended Training and References” in the study guide. Watch these videos. Also, it never hurts to know the Fundamentals. For this specific exam, I would have a very good understanding of:

Note: These are just some things to focus on, there will be questions outside of these particular topics. Focus on the Exam outline in the Study guide.

Tips and Tricks

It is important to understand how the Salesforce certification process works and how Salesforce in general works. Salesforce has 3 releases a year, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Each release adds new questions to the exam. From my experience, new features are typically tested more heavily.

Now, while taking the test it is important to do a few things:

  • Mark every question you aren’t 100% certain on. Remember, you only need 39 questions correct to pass, so if you only mark 15, you are good to go!
  • Eliminate any ridiculous answers from the multi-select options. Remember, you only need to select the specified amount of correct answers.
  • Read each question carefully. While I don’t think there are trick questions on the test, the questions do sometimes come in paragraph form and it is crucial to have an understanding of the entire question before you answer.
  • Take your time. You have more than enough time to finish this exam. Don’t be surprised if you finish with half of the time left. Utilize that time to review and ensure you selected the answers you intended.

Standard Information

Some aspects of the Salesforce certification process are the same no matter what certification you are attempting:

Maintenance Exams

As with all Salesforce certifications, you must maintain the certification upon every release of Salesforce. This means you must pass a maintenance exam three times a year. It costs $100 a year for each path, with Salesforce certifications falling under two paths:

  • Admininstrator
    • Advanced Administrator
    • Sales Cloud Consultant
    • Service Cloud Consultant
  • Developer
    • Advanced Developer

As you can see above, the Administrator certification is part of the Administrator tree. This means you must complete 3 Administrator maintenance exams a year to maintain your certification. The maintenance exams are relatively simply, usually 10-15 questions related to the latest release. Your best bet is to read the release notes and watch the release webinar.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking of taking the Salesforce Administrator exam, let me be the first to tell you to go for it. If you are already an administrator, it will legitimize your position. If you are looking to branch out into the Salesforce platform, this is a perfect launching platform. Either way, this is the easiest way to get involved with the Salesforce platform. Good luck!

This article is part of my Sales Certification Series. For more information on the other certifications, please check them out.

10 Responses to “Salesforce Certification Series: Administrator”

  1. January 7, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Thanks for sharing the info Jesse.
    Did you go through the ADM201 instructor led or self-paced training? If yes, how helpful did you find it?
    Is getting training enough to get you prepared for the exam? or should you prepare the exam differently?
    What are resources did you use to prepare for the exam or would recommend?

    – Kashi

    • January 9, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

      Through all 6 of my certifications, I had no formal training. I did not go through the ADM201 course.

      If you really want to prepare for the exam, do everything I listed under Personal Experience above. Start by going through the Fundamentals book and then watch the videos on the Partner Portal. Another thing that really helped me was my involvement in the Salesforce StackExchange. I learned a ton by simply interacting with the rest of the community and helping research their questions.

      I hope that helps! Just set up a schedule for studying and set a date for your certification and it will happen! You have to actually schedule it or you run the risk of letting it drift forever. Good luck!

      • chuck
        March 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

        hey jesse, just ran across your site today. having not used salesforce but trying to learn it to become a consultant. took the admin 201 exam today with no luck. as my son says, “fail”. i have a pretty good grasp on the overall use and a lot of foundational things i feel, but the gotcha’s such as ‘on the user record, what are the options you can edit as an administrator?’ i now know by going back to my dev version and actually drilling into the user record and seeing what options were there available. hard to remember when you’re sitting in a lab with no access to the GUI. another one, “what can you customize for an Activity (task and event)?” i also now know, enable recurring tasks, events and email tracking. not sure i got either of those correct on the exam.

        suggestions please from a guru such as yourself?
        much thanks,

  2. March 26, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    I am newbie to salesforce. My experience has been into operation management.
    Kindly let me know and guide me how can I become one sfdc consultant and how
    much time do I need to invest.
    Many thanks.
    asif Ali.

  3. hari
    September 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm #


    I am planning to do certifications in sales force.i saw you mentioning in your forum to watch videos in partner can i access this site ?is there anything i need to pay to get access ti the videos.please let me know the way how i can prepare for certifications.Appreciate your help.Thank you.


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