The easiest path to get Salesforce certified is to work for a Salesforce partner. Any partner will do: consulting, software vendor, the choice is yours. (Are you thinking about that choice? Think about Slalom.) And note that, while I discuss this below from a Salesforce angle, I believe this is also true, in general, for any major technology product, like AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud, or Snowflake.
But... why? Partners need to demonstrate that they invest in their ability to work with Salesforce as their technology partner, and their performance ranked against a benchmark that measures, among many other things, the stocks ("how many certified professionals does the partner have?") and flows ("how many new certifications has the partner earned this year?") of certified team members.
When you work for a Salesforce partner, the incentives are aligned to make earning new certifications very easy:
- Partners organize internal groups to study for certification exams.
- Within a partner it's easy to find mentors, either formal or informal.
- Partners have budget to spend in certification-driven talent development.
- Partners have discounts for exam registration and, often, also free certification opportunities.
Larger consulting partners may have an edge over other partners, because it is in the nature of their business to work in innovative projects of a certain scale. On one hand, this provides consultants with opportunities to get exposed to tools that may be harder to come across elsewhere. On the other, this drives up internal demand for certified professionals. It is also true that being part of a larger pocket of talent provides great opportunities to exchange knowledge. After 4 years at Slalom, one of my key places to learn is our internal Microsoft Teams and Slack channels. Reading my fellow consultants' questions and answers helps me identify new problems and come up with new solution alternatives.
But what if you don't want to go into consulting? Working for a partner may be the easiest way to get certified, but it is by no means the only one:
- Your local tribe. Meetups are a focal point to exchange learnings and better practices, and are a great place to start knitting your support network. Within the Salesforce ecosystem, Trailblazer Community Groups are present all across the globe, specializing in different knowledge areas. What are you looking for? Accountability buddies? Mentors? Start your search here.
- Your online tribe. There are numerous groups online, leveraging different portals and technologies, that can provide you with the exposure to someone else's questions and answers. There are plenty of places where you can participate: Salesforce Stack Exchange, SFXD in Discord, r/Salesforce in Reddit, and several Slack servers, among which I would highlight Salesforce Ohana Slack.
- Get some help from Salesforce. Discounts and free vouchers are not only for partners. Technology companies have incentives to engage with all the stakeholders in their ecosystems. For instance, Salesforce organizes Certification Days a few times a year, which provide practical content on what to expect in one of their foundational exams, and those sessions give you access to discount vouchers.
Consider this: where and how you work and team up with others can give you a big learning boost that makes learning easier. Are you a Trailblazer? Build and contribute to an environment where Trailblazers can thrive, for yourself and for others.