Today I became an official Certified Salesforce Force.com Developer after passing their 401 exam. I have been involved in a lot of discussions about the controversial “Certified Scrum Master” certification and thought I would post a few thoughts about the Dev-401 examination to draw a few parallels and comment on how I found the exam. Also to pass on any hints or tips I would have to those thinking of taking it.
For the past 12 months I have been working for one of the leading ISVs on the Force.com platform, being privileged enough to have spent my first 12 months on the cloud learning from some of the best guys out there. I have recently decided to move onto pastures new and one of the requirements of my new role was that I become certified in order to provide a certain level of comfort not only to my new employer, but also to their clients.
I was chatting to one of the guys I used to work (who is now enjoying life contracting on the platform) about the certifications and we were questioning the usefulness of the certifications (we had both written some code on the platform that was pushing the boundaries when it came to what Salesforce expected, working for one of the biggest ISVs. Why did need to pay $200 to show how good we were?) We had both previously seen things like the Microsoft certification, and I myself had gone through the Scrum Alliance CSM process (I found it very useful for me, although I would never dream to say it made me an expert by any stretch of the imagination). Was the Salesforce certification really as they had suggested, a good way to sharpen your skills and keep the quality of work done on the platform high? Or was it a nice license to print money?
The exam is a series of 60 multiple choice questions for which you are given 90 minutes. I managed it in 30 minutes without breaking a real sweat – I am not bragging, but I am trying to say for anybody with a strong level of understanding of the platform, you will not be pushed for time.
Please take note though – you will need to work at the material for this exam. I learnt an awful lot in preparing for it (perhaps that was why I managed to get it done fairly quickly?) which adds some brownie points to the certification. It makes you really understand the roles and sharing model, object access levels as well as have a meaningful understanding of how different object relationships work and the workings of reporting and dashboards.
I expect there are a large number of developers out there who, like myself have spent and invested a large portion of their time in honing apex and visual force knowledge, but have partly missed one of the key points of the Force.com platform – you don’t have to write lots of code lots of the time.
It was a really challenging and enjoyable exam which I would recommend to people. You will be mentally taxed and highlighted if you don’t know your stuff, but you will be better for it. I am now looking forward to investigating the 501 classes and exams in the New Year.
Force Prepare A brilliant resource I have now bookmarked just for reference with a fantastic mock exam.
Force Certified Another must read for those serious about the exam.
Salesforce Made Easy A really useful website with some nice quick tips.
The entire Dev-401 class videos on iTunes. Watch them, make notes.
The Study Guide for the exam.
A good mock exam from ProProfs.com.