How to go from Salesforce Administrator to Developer

It can be difficult to define a simple delineation between the traditional Salesforce Administrator and Developer roles, especially as more and more Admins are earning Developer certifications and the lines of those roles are starting to blur. In the world of Salesforce knowledge is power and the more you know about how to use the system, the more valuable you will be to a potential employer.

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Defining the Developer role

The title of “Salesforce Developer” can be a little misleading. When you hear the word “developer” you may be inclined to believe that the role requires coding skills, but a Salesforce Developer role doesn’t actually require a person to use outside coding languages. A Certified Developer does not actually need to use code to build Apps with Salesforce, they continue to rely on the point and click method typically attributed to Admins. However, a Certified Advanced Developer does need to have coding skills, so when we say that a person is a Salesforce Developer, they may or may not actually code.

What coding languages does Salesforce use?

The main language you will hear about with Salesforce is Apex, which is not a standalone language like Java or C++. Apex is a language that is native to the Salesforce software and can be used within that software to build applications, but it is limited in scope. However, the coding standards for Apex are similar to the Java and C languages, so presumably a person with some understanding of those languages would be able to understand how to use Apex.

Learning Apex

If you’re an Admin aspiring to be a developer, or you’re just beginning to use Salesforce and you are most interested in a developer role, the most important thing you will need to do is learn how to use Apex, which works like some coding languages but is not a language used outside of Salesforce. David Liu of the has created an Apex Academy which currently includes two courses: “Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Coding in Salesforce” and “Fundamental Salesforce Coding Techniques,” and there are other courses out there. Already having worked as an Admin and achieved Admin certifications will only help you because you will understand much of the fundamentals of Salesforce even if you have not used Apex yet. According to Liu, becoming a Salesforce Developer will only take you 5–10 hours a week for the length of say, the summer, and “If you can’t dedicate that much time per week, you probably don’t want it badly enough!” Social media channels and YouTube are also great places to learn from fellow Salesforce experts if you’re strapped for cash.


It’s recommended that both Administrators and Developers obtain the 201 and 401 certifications, so no matter what role interests you the most, you will be both a Certified Administrator and a Certified Developer. This makes it no surprise then that the differentiation between the two roles has begun to blur, and the titles of Salesforce Developer and Salesforce Administrator may not be descriptive enough of what a person does and does not handle within the platform.

The bottom line

It’s starting to look like no matter what Salesforce job title you aspire to have, a little Apex familiarity wouldn’t hurt. A great way to study any aspect of Salesforce technology is to visit the Trailhead site, and to study for a certification. Read more about why certifications are important in our blog.

Need a Certified Salesforce Administrator or Developer for full time or contract work? Xceli Global can help, contact ustoday.


Ben McCarthy for Salesforce Ben blog: “Administrator Vs Developer Infographic”

SFDC99 Blog: “Step-by-step guide to becoming a Salesforce developer this Summer”

Jenny’s Admin Tips: “The Difference Between a Salesforce Administrator and Developer — Jenny’s Admin Tip #10” “Apex Code: The World’s First On-Demand Programming Language”