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Sure, Chris Gardner's employer offers financial incentives to earn Salesforce certifications -- but he's driven by more than that in his work at Simplus, a Salesforce advisory and management service in Sandy, Utah. Gardner said he wants clients to know he can mesh the promise of Salesforce applications with their business objectives.
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"Certification is good proof you understand how code interacts with Salesforce," said Gardner, a Salesforce consultant and developer at Simplus. "A lot of it is based on best practices. Salesforce is very protective with databases, so you have to understand how to best request data from those databases. You have to understand how to work within Salesforce rules."
The worth of Salesforce accreditation
Gardner's understanding of Salesforce guidelines has helped him rack up 15 certifications. Simplus reimburses employees for exam fees for Salesforce certifications and the cost of all required maintenance exams.
Certifications are "a thing clients have come to trust," Gardner said. "They're best to win client confidence."
For every Salesforce certification Gardner and his colleagues earn, they receive a $1,000 annual base salary increase; consultant certifications fetch a $2,000 yearly salary boost. Gardner can earn up to $6,000 in all, but he can also use his certification clout to negotiate separate pay raises.
Gardner's success seems to fall in line with national data about the worth of Salesforce certifications. Job placement data and a survey of more than 3,400 employees in 2016 by Salesforce recruiting firm Mason Frank International show that permanent Salesforce developer jobs pay from $111,232 to $161,418, while freelance positions pay from $70,000 to $155,000.
Gardner started his professional career as a web designer, and he owned a marketing firm that specialized in web design, brand identity and search engine optimization. Five years in, he started to receive more and more requests to set up clients' Salesforce marketing tools. Suddenly, the Salesforce path became more lucrative and appealing than one centered on general web design.
Gardner joined Simplus in April 2014, and he said he isn't surprised to be working for a company that deals exclusively with Salesforce. Salesforce has extensive reach, he said, and clients no longer want to tap it just for one function, but want to incorporate it into many business aspects.
Putting Salesforce certifications to work
That means Gardner has to keep studying. He said he plans to earn more certifications, most notably in the Architecture series of credentials, which are considered the most valuable among the eight Salesforce certification tracks because they demonstrate proficiency with how the company's products interact technically.
When it comes to his current Salesforce certifications, none may be as important as his Platform Developer accreditation.
Colleagues offered advice about the Platform Developer I certification exam and Gardner studied sufficiently -- but he said that, in the days leading up to the test in December, he still wasn't sure if he would pass or fail. It was his first exam under the Developer umbrella, which also has certifications for Platform Developer II and Commerce Cloud Digital Developer.
He passed the multiple-choice test, which ironically doesn't require any code writing. If anything, his preparation showed Gardner he could follow his own style of coding, as long as it worked.
"You can look at code many different ways, but it all does the same thing," he said. "But even though it might accomplish the same thing, some code is done cleaner and some code is better long term than others. Some are more concise. I didn't think about it until then, but with developers, everyone has their own way to accomplish the same task."
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