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How To Become a Salesforce Developer: Tips and Basics

Head of Salesforce Department, ScienceSoft

5 min read

Editor's note: An experienced provider of Salesforce development services, ScienceSoft dwells on how to start with Salesforce, which technologies to master and how to build a successful career in this domain.

In 2019, Salesforce.com, Inc. was recognized as a CRM market leader for the sixth consecutive year. Over 150,000 companies worldwide, including such renowned brands as Sony, Financial Times, Toyota and more, already use Salesforce CRM. As the scale of using the Salesforce CRM is actively growing, Salesforce is expected to generate about 3.3 million employment opportunities including positions for developers by 2022.

What is the Salesforce platform

What is the Salesforce platform

Salesforce is a cloud platform for managing sales, customer service, and marketing. The key products for these purposes are Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. The list of the highly demanded products for business also includes Commerce Cloud (for ecommerce), Financial Services Cloud (for financial organizations), and Health Cloud (for healthcare organizations). To enrich their products, SFDC (which stands for Salesforce.com Inc.) offers additional components, for example, CPQ & Billing used for automatic price quote generation and invoicing.

In 2007, SFDC launched Force.com, the PaaS product for developers to create and run apps in the Salesforce infrastructure. In 2018, Force.com was renamed into Lightning Platform, but developers still use the original name sometimes.

SFDC regularly updates the services and enriches the offering with new products. One of such products is Einstein AI helping businesses to enhance their CRM with predictive analytics for such purposes as identifying the most promising leads (potential clients) for further cooperation.

Another ambitious product by SFDC is IoT Cloud. This platform allows collecting, processing and real-time managing data from the devices integrated into an IoT system. For example, in retail, IoT Cloud can aggregate the data from sensors attached to the goods to track their transportation and storage conditions.

Job duties of Salesforce developers

There are two ways to adapt Salesforce functionality to particular business needs: configuration and customization. Developers are mainly involved in Salesforce customization, but they can also perform configuration.

During Salesforce configuration, CRM functionality is tuned via the user interface with no coding involved. This way, one can create tables, objects, fields, build relationships between them, set rules for automating linear work processes. For configuration, businesses usually employ a Salesforce administrator.

Salesforce customization is needed when point-and-click tools available in Salesforce are not enough to automate particular business needs. Salesforce customization examples include:

  • Automating complex non-linear business processes.
  • Integrating Salesforce with other systems (ERP, company website, social media, etc.).
  • Creating custom reports and dashboards.
  • Adding Einstein AI capabilities to CRM, etc.

Apart from customization and configuration, Salesforce developers build custom applications for Salesforce (IT product companies can add such applications to Salesforce’s marketplace named AppExchange).

Basic aspects of Salesforce development

Back-end development

For server-side development, Salesforce app developers use Apex, a strongly typed object-oriented programming language with syntax similar to Java. Apex code is stored in the format of classes and triggers. Salesforce also has its own data management language SOQL, which is similar to SQL.

The Salesforce platform has some peculiarities that developers need to take into account. First, to deploy Apex code, its coverage by unit tests should be 75% at least. Second, the platform has limits for developers (Governor Limits) on performing certain operations. For example, it’s impossible to execute more than 100 synchronous SOQL queries in one transaction.

Front-end development

User interfaces in Salesforce can be created using the Visualforce or Lightning frameworks. Visualforce is an older framework, comprising a tag-based markup language and a set of controllers. Lightning, on the other hand, is a modern framework that allows creating more interactive user interfaces. The framework consists of Aura Components, a Salesforce proprietary programming model, and Lightning Web Components, a JavaScript-based alternative of Aura.

How to become a Salesforce developer

How to become a Salesforce developer


To obtain the required skills, a Salesforce developer should first of all have education in software development. One can obtain a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, mathematics or related fields. Then, a Salesforce developer needs to gain Salesforce-specific knowledge, for example, with online courses.

There is a variety of online courses and tutorials to learn the basic and advanced aspects of Salesforce development. The majority of them are fee-based. However, Udacity offers a free introductory Salesforce development course, and Udemy often provides discounts.

For learning purposes, SFDC offers Trailhead, which is a free platform with courses combining theory and practice of Salesforce development. Learning starts with the Developer Beginner module, which contains basic information about Salesforce development.

Apart from the technical skills, the requirements for Salesforce development positions can include Salesforce certification. To obtain a certificate, a candidate takes a fee-based test. There are 5 types of certificates, and the certificate should be periodically confirmed (according to the Salesforce releases) by completing tasks by Trailhead.

Salesforce developer vs Java developer

Due to the syntax similarities between Java and Apex, Salesforce is often chosen by Java developers. The core benefits they pursue are new job opportunities worldwide (as soon as Salesforce CRM is widely used around the globe), increased salary and just a refreshing change. At the same time, some developers claim that being a Salesforce developer restricts one’s job options while Java development allows choosing versatile projects in the domains that differ from CRM.

The career path of a Salesforce developer

A Salesforce developer’s career ladder consists of three levels: junior, middle and senior. A senior Salesforce developer can become a Salesforce architect or a Salesforce consultant.

A Salesforce architect is the highest point of the Salesforce developer’s technical growth. The architect designs an architectural model of Salesforce CRM and custom applications according to a client’s business needs. This position requires a solid Salesforce development background and a profound knowledge of all Salesforce products and development tools.

A Salesforce consultant is an intermediary between a customer and a technical team. The consultant analyses a client’s business needs and offers the most suitable Salesforce means to address them. For that, it’s vital to distinguish the cases when Salesforce customization is really required and when it’s enough to go with configuration.

3 reasons why you may like Salesforce development

  • You don’t like to develop from scratch

Lightning Platform has many ready-made components for development, which significantly simplifies a developer’s job.

  • You like to dive into a customer’s business

Salesforce development requires exploring a customer’s business processes. Moreover, understanding a customer’s business will be a part of your job duties and will influence your career growth.

  • You like both back-end and front-end development

Salesforce app developers work both on the server side and create user interfaces.

A Salesforce partner, we can provide a custom Salesforce app for your internal use or listing it on AppExchange.