The rise of the Salesforce admin

Salesforce is investing in growing the admin ecosystem, providing various tools for both employers who want to evaluate admins and people who want to start their admin career.

houlding out for an admin
Credit: CRM Market

When data is the king, the database administrator (DBA) is the knight protecting the most valuable resource a company has. More than anyone else, DBAs are the guardians of the king, implementing security measures to protect him from his enemies. DBAs also serve as internal consultants ensuring the technology supports the organization's mission, constantly improving and testing it to make sure it brings the most value.

Salesforce DBAs (admins) are often not your typical "IT people" because they often wear many hats and operate more like business analysts than DBAs. Salesforce admins are required to analyze complex problems, understand data, provide advice about taking action on data, formulate complex solutions, and often work closely with C-level executives on initiatives. Salesforce admins are not developers, but they have special powers to make things happen.

The combination of the growing Salesforce skill and the available positions (3,240 job opening over the last 12 months in the U.S.) are making this position very desirable. Salesforce is investing in growing the admin ecosystem (follow #AwesomeAdmin on Twitter), providing various tools for both employers who want to evaluate admins and people who want to start their admin career. Here are a few examples:

Certifications. Obtaining an Administrator Salesforce certification is the easiest way to validate that you have the Salesforce knowledge and experience necessary to handle your CRM. The certification requires the candidate to show basic experience performing Salesforce tasks (managing users, data and security), customization of the platform, and knowledge in designing and building reports, dashboards and workflows.

It is also a great way to make sure that your potential hire is up to date on Salesforce releases. Three times a year (winter, spring and summer), Salesforce releases new system feature updates. In accordance with these updates, all certified professionals are required to maintain their certification by taking a maintenance exam every release cycle. You can verify an individual's certification on the dedicated Salesforce verification site.

Trailhead. Trailhead is a great interactive learning tool (provided for free) that will take you through the Salesforce platform. Every skill set is covered. Whether you are a developer or an admin, Trailhead includes tools to test your knowledge of the platform. When you complete a specific module you will earn badges that you can then post to your LinkedIn profile to indicate your expertise.

The Salesforce community. One of the strongest advantages Salesforce offers is its amazing community. The community consists of incredibly supportive individuals that aid one another through their Salesforce journeys. The Salesforce Success Community is a great place to connect with like-minded Salesforce admins, ask questions, get updates and find job opportunities. A few online groups every admin should join include Job Posting, ButtonClick Admins and, of course, Why Salesforce Admins Drink.

Salesforce User Groups are another great way to meet with other admins in person. They are run by Salesforce for Salesforce users and provide a place to learn about new Salesforce features, share best practices and collaborate. Over the past two or three years, User Groups have expanded to support unique User Group-led Salesforce conferences. The conferences are led entirely by the community, without Salesforce involvement, and attract hundreds of users for a day or two of professional development. Examples are London's Calling, Snowforce, Southeast Dreamin' and Midwest Dreamin'.

How much do Salesforce admins make?

This is one of the most common questions my clients ask. The answer is, it depends. Are they working for a large enterprise in a large U.S. city and making architectural strategic decisions? If that is the case, they may be able to earn a six-figure salary. Are they working for a large company and mainly manage a large set of users? In this case, their salary will likely be aligned with the internal IT department. Are they working for a small company and Salesforce administration is not their primary role, or are they working for a nonprofit organization? In either of those scenarios, the salary will depend on their contribution to the organization.

Good Salesforce administrators are on high demand because they are not just implementing the decisions of others; they are involved in the decision-making process of the organization and continue to add value to the process. Salesforce administration is no longer an "accidental" career -- it is a desired profession.

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