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Google Cloud Certification: Preparation and Prerequisites

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has evolved from being a niche player to a serious competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In 2018, research firm Gartner placed Google in the Leaders quadrant in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service for the first time. In the report, Gartner recommended the platform for its analytics, machine learning, and cloud-native applications. GCP has been growing rapidly and has landed big-name customers, such as Snap, Spotify, Best Buy, and Coca-Cola.

With more and more companies using GCP for at least some of their cloud requirements, there is an increased demand for Google Cloud certification training. Google now has three certification exams that teams and IT professionals can use to validate their GCP skills.

Google Cloud Certifications

Google’s newest certification is Associate Cloud Engineer. This is intended for people who handle the day-to-day maintenance of existing Google Cloud implementations. The exam tests your ability to deploy applications, monitor operations, and maintain GCP projects. To pass it, you need to have detailed knowledge of the following areas:

  • Setting up a cloud solution environment
  • Planning and configuring a cloud solution
  • Deploying and implementing a cloud solution
  • Ensuring successful operation of a cloud solution
  • Configuring access and security

The next level is the Professional Cloud Architect. This is for people who need to design new GCP solutions from scratch. This exam requires a deep understanding of Google Cloud Platform services. For example, it’s not enough to know when you should use Compute Engine rather than App Engine or Kubernetes Engine. You also need to be able to design a solution that’s scalable, highly available, and secure. The exam tests your knowledge of the following areas:

  • Designing and planning a cloud solution architecture
  • Managing and provisioning solution infrastructure
  • Designing for security and compliance
  • Analyzing and optimizing technical and business processes
  • Managing implementation
  • Ensuring solution and operations reliability

One of the biggest reasons organizations choose Google Cloud Platform is for its robust data services, such as BigQuery, Cloud Dataflow, and Cloud Machine Learning Engine. While a Professional Cloud Architect knows how to use these services at a high level, a Professional Data Engineer has a much more in-depth understanding of how to design, build, maintain, and troubleshoot data processing systems. For example, a Professional Data Engineer needs to have experience with cutting-edge concepts like neural networks and streaming analytics. The exam covers the following areas:

  • Designing a data processing system
  • Building and maintaining data structures and databases
  • Analyzing data and enabling machine learning
  • Optimizing data representations, data infrastructure performance, and cost
  • Ensuring the reliability of data processing infrastructure
  • Visualizing data
  • Designing secure data processing systems

Google Cloud Certification Training: Preparing for the Exam

Google Cloud certification exams are known for their thoroughness and difficulty, so the importance of preparation and training beforehand cannot be overstated. Surprisingly, Google doesn’t provide a score at the end of an exam. Instead, it simply issues a “Pass” or “Fail” result, which doesn’t provide much help in terms of knowing where to study if you fail. This is another reason why it’s important to thoroughly prepare for the exam, and this is where certification training with Cloud Academy can help.

Here are 5 steps to take before writing an exam:

  1. Take the relevant learning path on Cloud Academy. We offer Cloud Architect – Professional Certification Preparation for Google and Data Engineer – Professional Certification Preparation for Google. These learning paths include courses and quizzes for each certification. A learning path for the Associate Cloud Engineer certification is coming soon.
  2. Get hands-on practice on Google Cloud Platform. Many of the courses in the above learning paths include demos and supporting resources in a GitHub repository to make it easy to follow along with the examples.
  3. Review the outline in the exam guide (such as the Data Engineer exam guide) and check for any knowledge gaps.
  4. The Cloud Architect and Data Engineer exams include questions about lengthy case studies. You can find these case studies in the exam guides. Make sure you read them thoroughly before writing the exam.
  5. Write Google’s practice exam (such as the Cloud Architect practice exam).

Each exam is two hours long and must be taken at a Kryterion testing center. Kryterion has over 1,000 testing centers in 120 countries, so you should be able to find one in your area.

After Taking the Exam

As I mentioned earlier, the result shown after an exam is simply “Pass” or “Fail.” If you don’t pass, you’re allowed to take the exam again after 14 days. If you fail on the second attempt, then you have to wait 60 days before the next attempt.

If you pass the exam, you will receive an online certification badge that can be displayed on sites like LinkedIn, and more importantly, a Google Cloud certification hoodie.

Once you’re certified, you’ll want to stay up to date on Google Cloud Platform as it continues to evolve. Learn about Google Cloud Platform for Developers and other topics in our Google Cloud content library.

Good luck to you and your team!

Written by

Guy Hummel

Guy launched his first training website in 1995 and he's been helping people learn IT technologies ever since. He has been a sysadmin, instructor, sales engineer, IT manager, and entrepreneur. Guy’s passion is making complex technology easy to understand.

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