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Salesforce Developer Career Guide

What is a Salesforce developer?

A Salesforce developer specializes in creating and customizing applications within the Salesforce platform. They tailor the platform to fit the specific needs of businesses, optimizing customer relationship management, sales operations, and marketing campaigns. By understanding both business needs and the technical capabilities of Salesforce, these developers ensure organizations can maximize the platform for operational success.

Duties and responsibilities

Salesforce developers are responsible for designing, coding, and implementing Salesforce applications. This starts with closely engaging with stakeholders to discern the requirements and then conceptualizing the optimal Salesforce solutions. They use a mix of Salesforce’s declarative configurations and Apex code, Visualforce, or Lightning components to develop these tailored applications.

They also test the stability and functionality of the application, troubleshoot and fix bugs, and collaborate with other Salesforce professionals like administrators and architects to ensure the application aligns with the broader system architecture and business strategy. Post-deployment, they are often involved in maintaining the application, introducing updates or new features as business needs change.

Work environment

Most Salesforce developers work in a traditional office environment, although remote work opportunities are also common due to the nature of the job. Their roles typically require them to collaborate with other professionals, such as project managers, business analysts, and UX designers. This job involves substantial computer work and typically includes regular meetings to understand and review project requirements and updates.

Typical work hours

Salesforce developers, in a traditional employment setting, usually work standard business hours. However, freelance developers or those in consultancy roles might experience more varied hours, depending on client engagements and project timelines. Irrespective of the model, nearing project deadlines or during critical deployments, extended hours might be necessary to ensure the smooth rollout of solutions.

How to become a Salesforce developer

This career guide section outlines how to become a Salesforce developer. The primary steps include achieving the necessary education, technical proficiency, professional certifications, and practical experience.

Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a closely related field is typically required for entry-level developer positions. This foundation introduces students to various aspects of software development, programming languages, databases, and information systems, providing the basis for future specialization.

Step 2: Gain proficiency in coding languages

Being skilled in programming languages like Java, JavaScript, and others is beneficial as they’re used in Salesforce development. An in-depth understanding of object-oriented programming and relational databases is also essential. These skills can be acquired through coursework in your degree, self-study, or targeted training programs.

Step 3: Learn Salesforce fundamentals

Acquiring a basic knowledge of Salesforce’s proprietary language, Apex, its query language SOQL, and its front-end framework Visualforce is a critical step. There are many online courses and resources available for aspiring Salesforce developers. Salesforce’s own Trailhead platform offers a wealth of free, in-depth learning paths designed for this purpose.

Step 4: Gain practical experience

Before landing a job, it is likely necessary to get some hands-on experience – through internships, part-time roles, or by volunteering to work on Salesforce projects at your current job or for a non-profit. Creating personal projects or contributing to open-source projects can also help demonstrate your skills to potential employers.

Step 5: Earn certifications

Having Salesforce developer certifications will significantly enhance your job prospects. They showcase your knowledge and dedication to prospective employers. The Salesforce Certified Platform Developers I and II are well-respected credentials in the industry. They require passing exams that test your knowledge and skills in designing, developing, testing, and deploying custom applications using the Salesforce platform.

Step 6: Apply for jobs and prepare for interviews

Once you have gained the necessary education, skills, experience, and certifications, it’s time to apply for jobs. In addition to zengig, use platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, or Dice to find suitable opportunities and tailor your resume to each application, highlighting relevant skills and experiences. Lastly, take time to prepare for interviews by studying commonly asked questions.

How much do Salesforce developers make?

Salesforce developer salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. The increasingly complex nature of Salesforce applications and the scarcity of highly skilled developers also significantly impact compensation.

Highest paying industries

  • Software Publishers – $136,280
  • Scientific Research and Development Services – $134,770
  • Computer Systems Design – $130,460
  • Information Services – $127,840
  • Other Information Services – $125,620

Highest paying states

  • California – $139,260
  • Washington – $138,620
  • Virginia – $136,960
  • New York – $134,630
  • New Jersey – $132,180

Browse Salesforce developer salary data by market

Types of Salesforce developers

This career guide section highlights the various career types and areas of specialization for Salesforce developers. Below, we highlight the unique attributes and responsibilities of each job title.

Technical architect

In the Salesforce landscape, a technical architect stands as the pinnacle of expertise. Professionals in this role drive the design and management of intricate technology solutions, capable of blending platform prowess with business strategy. They need an outstanding grasp of Salesforce’s varied functionalities and features.

Functional consultant

Functional consultants bridge the gap between business needs and technological abilities. Their responsibilities center on designing Salesforce solutions that meet businesses’ operational requirements. They often work closely with business owners, deciphering their needs and translating them into effective, functional system upgrades or configurations.

System administrator

System administrators manage the handling and maintenance of the Salesforce platform within an organization. Daily operations like user account creation, security checks, and basic-level troubleshooting fall under their purview. These professionals should have a strong understanding of the platform’s intrinsic features.

Application developer

Application developers play a hands-on role, modifying the Salesforce platform to meet specific user requirements. They create tailored applications using Salesforce tools and features to accommodate business needs better. Mastery of coding, debugging, and strong technical knowledge are prerequisites for this role.

Top skills for Salesforce developers

This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a Salesforce developer. The role requires a combination of deep technical knowledge, coding abilities, and strong problem-solving abilities.

Technical proficiency

A proficiency in Salesforce technology forms the backbone of a successful career in this role, including a solid understanding of Salesforce’s software development life cycle, CRM features, and broad-based knowledge of coding languages like Apex and Visualforce.

Problem-solving abilities

The ability to troubleshoot and solve problems is vital. A Salesforce developer is often tasked with finding solutions to complex technical issues and creating ways to improve system performance. Strong analytical skills complemented by a knack for identifying, tracking, and resolving defects are integral to this role.

Communication skills

Good communication skills play an important part in this profession. Salesforce developers work closely with various stakeholders, including project managers, software engineers, and customers. Explaining complex technological concepts to non-technical team members is a valuable skill for them to possess.

Teamwork and collaboration

As these professionals are part of a larger team working on shared goals, they need to collaborate effectively with other team members. The job requires being open-minded, receptive to others’ ideas, and capable of managing and resolving conflicts.

Project management skills

These professionals often juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities at once. Effective project management skills, including task organization, time management, and the ability to meet deadlines, are strongly beneficial for success in this role.

Salesforce developer career path

A Salesforce developer, having mastered the essentials, has several routes for career progression. One is a senior developer role, which requires an expanded understanding of the Salesforce platform and advanced coding skills. In this role, you would lead project teams and often act as a mentor to less experienced developers. This path provides excellent opportunities for growth and the possibility to impact the organization’s overall technological trajectory.

Another path to consider is becoming a Salesforce solutions architect, which stems from gaining perspective on business requirements and enterprise-level solutions. In this role, you would plan and design solutions using Salesforce technology, process integration, and data management across the company.

If a management path is more appealing, a project or product manager role could be a good fit. Your development experience can be leveraged for managing resources, setting priorities, and ensuring that projects meet their requirements and deadlines.

Lastly, you might opt for a consulting role, providing expert advice to other companies on their Salesforce strategy, implementation, and optimization. With sufficient experience and credibility, some choose to operate as independent consultants, running their own businesses and selecting their clients. This path requires strong interpersonal skills and a deep understanding of varied business contexts, bringing significant flexibility and potential rewards.

As businesses continue to embrace advanced technology to create efficiency in their operations, the role of a Salesforce developer is becoming increasingly important. As the IT industry evolves, developers must stay up-to-date with emerging trends and growth in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Another significant trend surrounds ‘Low Code Development’. It is an approach that minimizes hand-coding efforts and enables quicker delivery of business applications. With Salesforce embracing this concept, developers have the opportunity to engage with citizen developers and business users to build and deploy applications rapidly. Additionally, Salesforce Einstein, an AI technology, is actively impacting the landscape. As such, these developers should focus on developing skills related to Einstein’s predictive analytics functionality.

Employment projections

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for software developers, including Salesforce Developers, is projected to grow 25 percent through 2031 – a growth rate much faster than the average for all occupations. The main driving factors for this increase are a broad demand for new and better software and a greater focus on cloud computing, collecting and storing big data, and information security throughout various industries.

Salesforce developer career tips

Understand the Salesforce ecosystem

It’s important not to limit yourself to just coding – you need a deep understanding of the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce is not just CRM software; it is a thorough platform that provides multiple solutions for different industries. Learn about Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and other Salesforce products. Your work will involve these components regularly, and knowledge about their working and integration will help you excel in your role. Specific online courses and webinars will provide valuable insights to master these ecosystems.

Master the Salesforce developer languages

Having a solid grounding in Salesforce’s proprietary programming languages — Apex and Visualforce — is critical for any developer. However, don’t stop at just these two. For instance, Salesforce Lightning requires understanding languages such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Prioritize the practice and understanding of these languages to enhance your skill set.

Stay updated with the latest trends

Salesforce regularly introduces new features and updates its platform. Make it a point to stay updated with these changes. Attend webinars, read blogs, participate in online forums, and stay active in the Salesforce community to keep up with the dynamics of this ever-evolving platform. Regularly consider your approach and implement new techniques to strengthen your ability to create compliant codes and solve complex problems.

Obtain relevant certifications

Certifications validate your skills and knowledge, help you stand out in the crowded job market, and give you an edge for promotions. Here are some recommended certifications:

  • Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I and II
  • Salesforce Certified JavaScript Developer I
  • Salesforce Certified B2C Commerce Developer

Build a professional network

Networking can offer immense benefits, even for developers who are not inherently outgoing. Many opportunities exist to gain insights, learn from the experiences of others, and even build partnerships for future projects. Find networking opportunities with these professional associations:

  • Salesforce Developer Group
  • Salesforce MVP Program
  • Trailblazer Community Groups

Continuous learning

Lastly, always continue learning. Salesforce technology evolves constantly, and continuous learning is key to success in this field. Keep up to date with the advancements in the Salesforce platform and related technologies. A few suggestions for continuous learning include:

  • Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform
  • Webinars and meetups organized by Salesforce
  • Online courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, etc.
  • Blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to Salesforce

Where the Salesforce developer jobs are

Top employers

  • Amazon
  • Deloitte
  • Accenture
  • IBM
  • Capgemini

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Washington

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • LinkedIn
  • SimplyHired


What does a day in the life of a Salesforce developer typically like?

A Salesforce developer typically starts the day by meeting with a project team to discuss updates on ongoing production issues or brainstorm new feature development. They often spend most of their day writing code for Salesforce applications, testing these applications, debugging, and solving complex problems related to Salesforce implementations. They may also interact with end-users to gather requirements or troubleshoot issues.

What technical skills are needed to be a successful Salesforce developer?

Technical skills critical for a Salesforce developer cover a wide landscape. Expertise in Salesforce’s SOQL and SOSL query languages is needed. Proficient use of Salesforce’s APIs, experience configuring Salesforce environments, and maintaining user roles and security are also important. In-depth knowledge of a programming language like JAVA or C# is beneficial, as well as experience with front-end technologies like HTML and JavaScript.

Do Salesforce developers need formal certifications?

While not always required, having a Salesforce developer certification can significantly benefit those seeking jobs in this field. Gaining certification demonstrates a thorough understanding of Salesforce, its components, and the capability to work with the platform effectively. Some companies look for certified Salesforce developers to ensure they have the necessary skills to handle complex Salesforce-related projects.

What personal traits are helpful for a Salesforce developer?

Being a Salesforce developer often requires a lot of problem-solving. So, being analytical and enjoying problem-solving can be a great advantage. With a constant stream of new updates and features from Salesforce, a love of learning is essential. Excellent communication skills are also important as developers often need to explain technical details to non-technical staff or clients.

What are some regular challenges that a Salesforce developer might face?

Given that Salesforce is a complex platform with continual updates, a Salesforce developer will likely face challenges like keeping up with changes and adopting new features. They may also need help in integrating Salesforce with existing systems. Debugging and resolving issues, particularly in customized applications, can also be challenging.

Do Salesforce developers usually work with a team or alone?

Often, Salesforce developers are part of a team that may include other developers, system administrators, business analysts, and project managers. That being said, in smaller organizations, a Salesforce developer may be working alone to handle all of the Salesforce-related tasks.

What is the role of a Salesforce developer in the CRM implementation process?

The developer is critical to a successful Salesforce CRM implementation. They create custom interfaces and tools, develop and implement data and access policies, and write custom scripts to automate Salesforce processes. Additionally, they integrate Salesforce CRM with other systems and databases, customize Salesforce applications based on business needs, create testing and implementation strategies, and provide training to end-users.

How does the work of a Salesforce developer differ from a Salesforce administrator?

While there is overlap between the two roles, the core difference is that a Salesforce developer is primarily focused on writing code and developing custom applications within Salesforce. In contrast, a Salesforce administrator deals with the system’s broader, more operational aspects, including configuring settings, managing users, creating reports and dashboards, and overseeing data validation and integrity.

What type of companies or industries hire Salesforce developers?

Firms across a wide range of industries use Salesforce, opening doors for Salesforce developers in diverse sectors. This includes technology firms, financial institutions, healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and many others. In essence, any organization that utilizes Salesforce as its CRM platform needs a Salesforce developer.