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Erin Schaffer for Educative

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Cracking the GCP Certification exam: How to prepare

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a suite of cloud services that run on the same infrastructure. GCP offers a range of services such as cloud storage, database management, developer tools, and more. Companies can improve their own products, services, and technologies by using the Google Cloud Platform. With cloud skills in such high demand, a Google Cloud certification is a great way to boost your resume and help you stand out from the competition. Today, we’re going to dive deeper into the topic of Google Cloud certifications and discuss benefits, exam questions, preparation, and more.

We’ll cover:

What is a Google Cloud certification?

A Google Cloud certification demonstrates that you have experience with Google Cloud technologies. It shows hiring managers that you can maintain and implement Google Cloud products, services, and technologies into a company’s workflow.

The demand for cloud skills is high and will only continue to grow. Over 80% of hiring managers say that cloud certifications make applicants more desirable. A certification will also expand your career opportunities and most likely result in a significant pay increase.

Here’s what you need to do to get Google Cloud certified:

  • Find the appropriate learning path on Google Cloud Platform
  • Get hands-on experience with the Platform
  • Review and study the provided exam guide
  • Take the practice exam
  • Take the certification exam

A Google Cloud certification will only be attractive to companies that actually use (or plan to use) the technologies. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have a larger market share in the public cloud than Google Cloud, so getting a certification from one of those companies may be better depending on what the hiring company uses.

Although Google Cloud is behind Azure and AWS in market share, it’s used by many Fortune 500 companies because of its simplicity and great features. Google’s Professional Cloud Architect certification is currently the highest-paying cloud certification available.

Tip: If you have experience with other cloud services, you may consider implementing a multi-cloud infrastructure.

What types of certificates are available?

Google Cloud currently offers ten certificates that fall under three different levels: foundational, associate, and professional. Each level of certification is geared toward a different type of user and requires different background knowledge and experience. Let’s take a look at the certificates!

Foundational level

Foundational-level certifications confirm that you have general knowledge of cloud concepts and Google Cloud technologies, features, services, capabilities, and more. The certificate available at this level requires no prerequisites with Google Cloud. This certification level is ideal for you if you’re in a non-technical position and want to add value to your organization by learning more about Google Cloud.

Foundational certification:

Foundational Cloud Digital Leader

A Cloud Digital Leader knows and can explain the abilities of Google Cloud’s main products and services and can explain how cloud solutions support businesses.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Aren’t in a technical position
  • Want to get familiar with Google Cloud
  • Want to act as a representative for the platform within your organization

Associate level

Associate-level certifications focus on the core skills of monitoring, deploying, and maintaining projects on Google Cloud. The certificate available at this level recommends you have at least 6+ months of experience building on Google Cloud. This certification level is ideal for you if you’re newer to the cloud and want to use this learning path to eventually transition to professional-level certifications.

Associate certification:

Associate Cloud Engineer

An Associate Cloud Engineer deploys apps, controls operations, and handles business solutions. An Associate Cloud Engineer can also use Google Cloud Console and the command-line interface to execute tasks.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Want to work with distributed web systems
  • Have experience working with end-users

Professional level

Professional-level certifications cover core technical job duties and evaluate developed skills in design, implementation, and management. The certificates available at this level recommend you have at least 3+ years of industry experience with at least 1+ years of experience on Google Cloud. The certifications at this level are ideal for you if you have industry experience and experience with Google Cloud products and solutions.

Professional certifications:

Professional Cloud Architect

A Professional Cloud Architect helps organizations leverage Google Cloud services and technologies. They have a strong understanding of cloud architecture and can create and manage strong, safe, scalable solutions to support business goals.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Want to dive deeper into cloud solution architecture
  • Want to design powerful solutions to meet your organization’s needs

Professional Cloud Developer

A Professional Cloud Developer builds, tests, and deploys scalable cloud-native apps using Google’s practices, technologies, and tools.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Already have experience with databases, programmer tools, and cloud-native apps
  • Have basic experience with at least one general-purpose programming language

Professional Data Engineer

A Professional Data Engineer makes data-driven decisions by performing data analytics and creates, builds, secures, and monitors data processing systems with a focus on security and compliance. They also deploy and train machine-learning models.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Have experience in data engineering and/or big data analytics
  • Want to build and operationalize data processing systems and machine-learning models

Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer

A Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer handles development operations that balance speed and reliability. They use Google Cloud tools and technologies to build software delivery pipelines, deploy services, and track incidents.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Are an IT professional looking to get into the cloud space
  • Are interested in automation and improving security and reliability

Professional Cloud Security Engineer

A Professional Cloud Security Engineer helps organizations build and implement secure infrastructures using Google’s security technologies.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Have experience in network security, operating identity and access management
  • Have experience outlining organizational structures and policies, and/or analyzing incidents to provide data protection

Professional Cloud Network Engineer

A Professional Cloud Network Engineer enforces and maintains cloud network architecture.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Have networking experience and want to get into the cloud space
  • Want to work on critical infrastructure components with high impact

Professional Collaboration Engineer

A Professional Collaboration Engineer uses business objectives to create and implement policies, practices, and configurations. They use their knowledge of mail routing and identity management to support secure data access and communication.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Have an engineering and solutions mindset
  • Want to teach end-users

Professional Machine Learning Engineer

A Professional Machine Learning Engineer builds and uses machine learning models to solve business problems. They work with other job roles to collaborate on development processes and successful model solutions.

This is a great certification for you if you:

  • Have experience with data engineering
  • Have experience with app development and infrastructure management

Note: For more in-depth information about each certificate, you can visit Google’s Cloud certification site. Each certification provides exam guides where you can view topics and case studies that may be included in the exam.

What jobs benefit from a cloud certification?

There are many jobs that benefit from a cloud certification. Let’s take a look at some of the most in-demand, along with their average salaries:

  • Cloud engineers, $132,866
  • DevOps developers, $137,830
  • Machine-learning engineers, $137,513
  • Security analysts, $124,892
  • Cloud solutions architects, $127,000
  • .NET developers, $131,070
  • Etc.

Note: Cloud certifications can help even non-cloud engineers, IT professionals, and others stand out from other applicants.

Exam question types

The exam question types vary in form and subject. Questions can be multiple-choice, coding questions, or case studies. Depending on your certification, you could answer questions on subjects like:

  • System design
  • Scalability
  • Automation
  • Security and compliance
  • Building, testing, and deploying apps
  • Integrating Google Cloud services
  • Managing Google Compute Engine virtual machines
  • Etc.

How to prepare

The Google Cloud certification exams are known to be difficult and rigorous, so it’s very important to engage in certification training prior to taking your exam. The exam doesn’t provide you with a score at the end, only a Pass or Fail result. These results don’t provide you with much insight into which areas you performed well in and which areas you need to improve in. This is a major reason why you need to take your preparation seriously.

Let’s discuss some ways you can do some Google Cloud training and prepare for your exam:

Focus on theory and practical skills

When studying theory, Google Cloud documentation is a solid resource. Dedicate time to studying and understanding the How-to and Concepts sections of the documentation.

For the practical skills, you’ll have to practice often and thoroughly. Use the Google Cloud Platform practice exams, and check out other resources, tutorials, and hands-on labs available online.

Study the related Google Cloud products

Read through the featured products and use the exam guides to determine which ones will be relevant to your preparation. Read the documentation for those products and focus on developing a strong understanding of them.

Read the sample case studies (if applicable)

For the Professional Cloud Architect exam, Google provides you with sample case studies that you can use for practice. Read through the case studies and try to create solutions for them.

Practice the sample questions

Google Cloud Platform provides you with sample questions that help familiarize you with the format and potential content that may be covered on your exam. It’s important to note that the sample questions don’t claim to fully represent the range of topics or level of difficulty of the actual exam. You shouldn’t use your results from the sample questions to predict your exam result.

Practice questions

The questions you’ll practice will depend on the certification you plan to get. We took a look at the certification exam guides and pulled some questions from them. Let’s take a look:

  • Designing and plan a cloud solution architecture
  • Ensure solution quality while considering identity and access management (IAM)
  • Design high-performing applications and APIs
  • Etc.

Wrapping up and next steps

Cloud skills are in high demand and that demand continues to grow. A Google Cloud certification will demonstrate to potential employers that you have proficiency in the Google Cloud Platform. The certification exams are known to be difficult, so it’s important to prepare with the best resources available.

To practice for the Associate Cloud Engineer certification exam, check out Educative’s course Cracking the Google Associate Cloud Engineer Certification. This course gives you a headstart to quickly get hands-on with Google Cloud Platform and get comfortable with it.

By the end, you’ll be prepared to crack the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer certification exam. Once you get Google Cloud certified, you can add your new certification to your resume and LinkedIn to stand out from the competition!

Happy learning!

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Top comments (2)

thorstenhirsch profile image
Thorsten Hirsch • Edited

Hi Erin. Cloud Services can be categorised into IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and maybe also CaaS if you consider this to be a category of its own. GCP offers services of all these categories. So I think you might want to work on your introduction...

Google Cloud Platform is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering a range of services...

But thank you for your article. I think you've provided a very good overview.

erineducative profile image
Erin Schaffer

Thorsten, I appreciate your feedback. It makes me a better writer! I will go in and edit the introduction. Thank you! Hope you have a great day.