Salesforce Certification Series: Developer


The Salesforce Developer Certification is intended for Salesforce experts who specialize in building custom applications using the point-and-click capabilities of the platform, designing the data model, user interface, business logic, and security for custom applications, and designing reports, dashboards, and portals.

The Developer certification, also called DEV-401 builds on the information learned from the Administrator certification, although it isn’t required to pass that exam before taking this one. By passing the Developer certification, it ensures you have a working knowledge of the Salesforce platform, beyond the point of an administrator. You should be capable of creating custom objects, validation rules, workflow rules, etc. This certification specializes on extending the platform.

As of Summer ’13:

  • 60 question, multiple choice exam (includes multi-select questions)
  • 68% is the passing score (41 questions correct)
  • 90 minutes to answer all questions
  • $200 fee with $100 retake fee
  • Prerequisite: None

Personal Experience

I passed my Salesforce Developer certification on the Winter ’12 release. This was my first certification to attempt on the Salesforce platform. I actually originally attempted to pass the Developer certification in Summer ’11, but failed. I went into that test with very little experience on the Salesforce platform which was a mistake. You should have at least 3 months of experience on the Salesforce platform when you attempt to take this 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 41 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 Developer certification is part of the Developer tree. This means you must complete 3 Developer 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 Developer exam, I would suggest first attempting to take the Salesforce Administrator certification. The Salesforce Developer certification builds on the lessons you learn by preparing for and taking the Salesforce Administrator certification. As noted above, the Salesforce Developer certification is heavily weighted towards extending the Salesforce platform, so it is a good idea to have a base knowledge of how the platform works before even attempting this certification. Once you have that base knowledge, this certification shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Prepare to study for about 20 hours before attempting this certification. Good luck!

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

4 Responses to “Salesforce Certification Series: Developer”

  1. Nishanth
    January 18, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    I did not understand this sentence of yours…
    “The Developer certification, also called DEV-401Administrator certification, although it isn’t required to pass that exam before taking this one. ”

    what are you referring to when you say ‘that exam’ and ‘this one’? can you please clarify?

    • February 20, 2015 at 10:01 am #

      My apologies! That was a broken link tag that incorrectly hid some text. I have fixed it now:

      The Developer certification, also called DEV-401 builds on the information learned from the Administrator certification, although it isn’t required to pass that exam before taking this one.


  1. Salesforce Certification Series: Advanced Developer | Jesse Altman - September 26, 2013

    […] Prerequisite: Developer certification […]

  2. How to study/prepare for the Salesforce Developer Certification | DL-UAT - February 14, 2015

    […] EDIT: I have expanded upon my answer with an article I wrote for my blog, Salesforce Certification Series: Developer […]

Leave a Comment