Certified & Certifiable

So… I did a thing.


Before this last spring, I had never heard of Salesforce.  I’m still somewhat embarrassed that I fell in to a puddle of fan-girl coos and sighs quite so quickly, but I did.  It’s messing with my whole aloof cynic thing.

In short order, it was clear that somewhere in the to-do list for implementing a Salesforce instance, I was going to need to get certified.  Yes, I did it, and hey there nonprofit admin, you can too!  Even though I’m sure you stumbled into this gig and you wear about a dozen other hats, and there’s not enough hours in the day, YOU CAN DO THIS.

There are about a zillion really great guides, blog posts, and resources out there to help you get certified, and at the risk of showing my hubris (after all, this whole website is pretty much an exercise in hubris, no?) this is how I did it:

  1. I took advantage of Nonprofit discounts.  Salesforce University offers excellent classes designed to prepare you for the exam, but they aren’t cheap.  HOWEVAH, if your org is a qualifying 501(c)3 enrolled in the Power of Us program, you can take these classes for half price.  They still aren’t cheap, but if you have some room in your training budget, you may want to look into it.  You can even take them virtually, after hours, if you’re REALLLLLY a diehard.  Talk to your account exec to set this up.
  2. I used Trailhead.  Run, don’t walk, to set up your Trailhead account.  It’s ridiculously easy to use, updated on the regular, and it’s FREE.  When I still worked in the nonprofit CRM system that shall remain nameless, access to this kind of quality on-demand self-guided training material cost my org thousands of dollars a year.  Salesforce gives to anyone and everyone, utterly free of cost.  Don’t be put off by all the business-y lingo; although Trailhead was built with its main user base — the private sector business — in mind, the structure and technology is still the same.  There are even dedicated modules for us nonprofit peeps.
  3. I joined Girlforce.  The Salesforce ecosystem supports a ton of in-person and virtual user groups, so find your niche.  For the half of the population two which I belong, there’s Girlforce.  Well, they recently changed their name to Amplify, but you get it.  Amplify/Girlforce periodically runs virtual study groups for certification exams, and my study group was instrumental in preparing me for the exam.
  4. I set up a FREE Developer Sandbox.  Salesforce offers anyone the chance to claim and set up their own test version of the platform to try out new skills.  If you’re the kind of person who learns by doing, I can’t recommend this enough.  There’s no substitute for practice.

Good luck!