Eight years ago, Salesforce was – to put it mildly – less of a thing. Know what I mean? Salesforce admins were just folks in operations, or marketing, or sales support, or other random positions where managing the Salesforce org was an additional job duty. We wore many hats – and “Salesforce Admin” was not a common title, and certainly not a career. When I attended my first Dreamforce in 2008, there were around 10,000 attendees. I had no idea that it would become a solid career that would (most likely) take me all the way to retirement.

But over the years, Salesforce – and Dreamforce – grew exponentially. I get asked on a regular basis – by friends, acquaintances, co-workers, blog followers, Twitter followers, etc. – “How did you become a Salesforce admin?” or “I’m considering a career change to Salesforce administration, where do I start?” While the first steps in that direction may vary for each newbie/potential admin, I’d like to share a list that I think is a good starting point.

1. Sign up for your own developer org. Don’t be intimidated by the word “developer” – it’s also been referred to as an “admin playground,” and basically it’s your own private Salesforce org, where you can learn things and break things and do whatever you want.

2. Get into Trailhead! Trailhead is a great way to learn Salesforce basics, and then to move on to more advanced configuration, including development. Sign in with your new developer org credentials, and start on the Admin Beginner trail. This is a new training feature that Salesforce has put a ton of work into, and it’s a lot more fun than just reading through the Help & Training documentation. I’m still working my way through the admin trails. And it’s got badges!

3. Participate in the Success Community. This is the best place to ask questions – and remember, there are no dumb questions – and connect with other Salesforce admins and users! Also use your developer org credentials to log in here. Note: if you are already signed into your job’s Salesforce org, that’s the account that you will log into the community with. That’s fine until you change jobs and lose everything you bookmarked & followed & voted on… so I always recommend that you log into the Community with your developer org credentials. I even wrote a blog post on the community that goes into more detail on getting the most out of it!

4. Get a book! Hey, I’m old school – I love having a paper book on hand to reference while I’m learning. Here’s a fairly recent one that is great for beginners.

5. NEVER STOP LEARNING. Experiment! Pretend that you are a business, go into your developer org, and start creating Accounts, Contacts, etc. Figure out how to add a logo and customize your home page. Then start asking yourself, “how can I make Salesforce more useful for my business?” You might find that the page layouts are not to your liking. Guess what? You can change that. As a Salesforce administrator, you can turn it into whatever you want – it just takes time and practice. If you really enjoy the process of customizing and configuring your Salesforce org, that’s a sign that you will enjoy working as an admin!

6. Once you’ve got some practice under your belt, look into certification. Salesforce makes certification so easy! The study guide tells you exactly what you need to know – and if you’re still extremely new to it, you can take a week-long class that will have you ready for the certification exam. Hint: the class can be spendy, and your company might not be willing to cough up the $$$ to send you to it – so here’s how I passed my first exam (and all the ones that followed!) with nothing but studying.

These are just some guidelines to get you started, and there is an endless supply of info out there (especially if you visit my best friend, Google). Have fun with it, explore as much as you can, and if you find yourself enjoying it and geeking out about what you learn, you are already on your way to becoming an awesome admin!

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