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CTA: Certified Technical Architect

Best Enterprise Architect Certifications 2018
By , Mary Kyle

In 1999, Salesforce revolutionized the world of CRM when they introduced the concept of using the cloud to provide top-quality CRM software. Today, Salesforce has more than 150,000 customers, earning the distinction of industry leader for CRM enterprise cloud platform. Currently, Salesforce offers solutions for several focus areas, including sales, service, marketing, commerce, productivity, platform, analytics, community, internet of things (IoT) and industry (financial and health).

To meet industry needs for qualified and experienced professionals who possess the skills necessary to support its growing customer base, Salesforce developed and maintains a top-notch certification program. It offers many paths to candidates, whether they're interested in administration, app building, architecture, marketing and so on.

Salesforce Architect certifications are hierarchy-based with most (but not all) lower-level credentials serving as prereqs for more advanced credentials. At the top of the certification pyramid is the highest credential a Salesforce professional can earn – the Certified Technical Architect (CTA) – which is also our featured Salesforce certification.

The Salesforce architect certification pyramid consists of three levels:

  • Specializations: These form the bottom tier of the pyramid. Salesforce offers eight specializations, four of which support application solutions, while the other four support system solutions. Application specializations include certifications for Data Architecture and Management Designer, Sharing and Visibility Designer, Platform Developer I and Platform App Builder. System specializations include Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer, Identity and Access Management Designer, Integration Architecture Designer and Platform Developer I credentials.

  • Domain Architect: There are two Salesforce Domain Architect credentials: the Certified Application Architect and the Certified System Architect. The Certified Application Architect designation targets professionals who possess expert-level knowledge regarding Salesforce product functionality and features, while the Certified System Architect credential focuses on governance, integration and testing. Both credentials require the candidate to first earn their corresponding specialization certifications in addition to meeting other requirements.

  • Technical Architect: The Certified Technical Architect (CTA) is the highest Salesforce credential available. CTAs are experts in all Salesforce domains and possess skills necessary to design, build and implement Salesforce platform solutions. To earn the CTA, candidates must first obtain both the Certified Application Architect and Certified System Architect credentials. Candidates must meet experience requirements and pass a rigorous board review, which validates a candidate's knowledge and skills in Salesforce competency areas, such as communication, development lifecycle and deployment planning, integration, solution architecture, data, security and system architecture.

Salesforce requires CTAs to maintain current skills. Credential holders must pass maintenance module exams with each new product release cycle (typically in summer, winter and spring). While difficult to earn, the CTA is the must-have credential for IT professionals serious about pursuing a career in Salesforce technologies.

CTA Facts & Figures 

Certification NameCertified Technical Architect (CTA)
Prerequisites & Required CoursesSalesforce Certified Application Architect and Salesforce Certified System Architect credential


Successful completion of Salesforce Certified Technical Architect multiple-choice exam plus an active Salesforce Certified Developer or Platform App Builder credential


5 years of implementation experience (must include development experience across the full software development lifecycle)

3 years of experience in an architect role

2 years of experience with the platform (one year must be in an architect role while implementing Salesforce technologies and applications)

Experience as a technical architect on multiple complex deployments OR equivalent knowledge through project participation

Additional experience guiding teams on platform technology; identifying and mitigating technical risks; exposure to project globalization, object-oriented design patterns, platform-specific design patterns and limits; developing code on the platform; building and addressing security complexities, mechanisms, and capabilities on the platform as part of a functional security model; knowledge of data migration, design tradeoffs and ETL tools, large data volume considerations, risks and mitigation strategies, general mobile solutions and architecture, on-platform mobile solutions and considerations as well as project and development lifecycle methodologies
Number of ExamsOne exam (four hours to complete; candidates must formulate, justify, and present recommendations based on a hypothetical scenario to a review board)
Certification Fees$6,000
Retake fee: $3,000
Self-Study MaterialsSalesforce maintains links on the certification web page to numerous review materials, including the Certification Exam Guide, online documentation, tip sheets, user guides, exam outline, Architect Journey e-books, Trailhead trails, Salesforce Guide to Certification and more.

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