On Salesforce Careers

At its most basic and for anyone who may not be familiar, Salesforce is a cloud-based software platform that started as a CRM1 platform in 1999, and has massively grown and expanded since – into Service, Field Service, CPQ2, Billing, Marketing, eCommerce, Analytics, and many other areas. In fact, they’ve generally grown so quickly and added (or acquired) so many new features that the vast majority of Salesforce work has been contracted out to 3rd parties for decades. Best of all, a lot of the work has a low barrier to entry, and even more technical roles don’t require knowledge of coding.

…Which is great for anyone looking to learn new things and perhaps start a new career in IT and business!

So what does “Salesforce work” entail? Lots of different roles are involved! Some key ones include:

  • Sales – this is what most people think all “Sales”-force work is, but Salesforce is just the name of the platform, and selling it, or services related to it, are important but only a small part of the puzzle.
  • Consulting – learning about a given business’ processes and goals and helping to optimize and structure them to fit to the Salesforce platform.
  • Design & Architecture – taking customer requirements and consultants’ suggestions and crafting a specific solution on the Salesforce platform that can be turned over to developers.
  • Development – implementing the design above by actually putting hands on keyboard. This can be simple declarative “configuration” (see more about this below) or coding on the platform or with many possible addons.
  • Testing – ensuring that complex solutions on the platform are working as expected, meeting customer requirements, and ready for the customer to use.
  • Project Management – may seem obvious, but an essential part of successful projects of any sort, Salesforce included.
  • Change Management – enablement, education, documentation, and training are an oft-overlooked part of any project, but ultimately just as important for success.

Depending on the size and complexity of a client or project, there could be multiple people for the roles above, or multiple roles can be filled by fewer people. For now, though, and for this post which is geared more toward Salesforce newbies, I’m going to focus on the Development type role.

Two key things about Salesforce have allowed it to grow and become as popular as it has:

  1. A lot can be done to craft solutions for different businesses without any coding, but merely through “configuration” or using point-and-click systems that don’t require knowledge of code.
  2. It has a phenomenal ecosystem of freely available training and materials, so lots of people can get familiar with Salesforce quickly and easily: Trailhead.

Both of these factors are one reason why I still suggest Salesforce as a potential new career for people, even when there are so many other competing products and companies out there.

So how would you begin? First, check out some of the Career Paths that are possible (at the moment Salesforce even lists median salaries for each of the paths if you follow that link). Then, head to Trailhead to create an account and learn some basics and join some communities of experts eager to help (I myself still work on Trailhead and participate in some of the communities) and fellow beginners eager to learn. Next, dig into some Trails on Trailhead, which allow you to filter by role and level to narrow down where to start. Frankly, there is a fair amount of generally useful background info on typical Business and Consulting topics within Trailhead as well, which are non-technical but still contain useful knowledge and can help to “learn the language” of typical Salesforce or related IT consulting careers. Just search for “business” or filter for “Business User” or “beginner” in the Trails link above. Again – all of this is free!

After you’ve learned the basics on Trailhead, there will come a time when you’ll want to earn some Certifications. For your first one or two, it might be an investment – something to pay for yourself – which will show employers you’re serious about the career. Thankfully, Salesforce certifications are quite cheap compared to many others out there – the basic Administrator cert is $200. And they are indeed resume-worthy. It’s possible to find employers or employment training organizations that may be willing to train you or pay for your certs as well, but they can be hard to find.

Just for some context, I knew nothing about programming, development, Salesforce, configuration, or business when I started doing this sort of work – I was bartending at the time! I learned as I went, and took advantage of lots of the resources above. And I’m not the only one – I know teachers who tripled or quadrupled their salary learning how to train Salesforce, artists who learned to configure and design Salesforce, and plenty of recent college grads from a wide variety of backgrounds who entered fulfilling and interesting careers by delving into the world of Salesforce.

Best of all, all the skills you learn in this career can easily be transferred to tons of other IT platforms and consulting careers.

May the Force be with you! :D


  1. CRM = “Customer Relationship Management“; basically, keeping track of your potential and existing customers’ information. ↩︎
  2. CPQ = “Configure Price Quote“; think of going to a car manufacturer’s website – first you Configure a car with various external and interior options, which results in a Price that may include discounts and rebates, which can then be officially downloaded by you as a Quote, that you can later choose to purchase. Nearly all businesses have quoting processes – at the simpler end this may be indistinguishable from ecommerce, but in many cases may include large amounts of business, technical, and pricing logic. ↩︎