Google Cloud Platform (GCP) certifications are an excellent way for engineers to showcase their expertise in utilizing Google Cloud technology. But how do the certifications vary from one another, and what does it take to successfully study and pass these certifications?
Whether you are trying to learn and apply new skills or land that job you’ve been eyeing, GCP certifications should be front of mind.
Why Are GCP Certifications Important?
Sometimes there’s a tendency to think that completing certifications is a waste of time. There are many certifications out there that don’t determine your skill level and may not be valued fairly by employers. This is not the case for GCP certifications, according to InfoTrust Analytics Engineer Mike Lehmann.
“Some certifications out there mean nothing,” says Lehmann. “But the Google Cloud certifications are there to prove you know your way around Google Cloud and its offerings. Otherwise, potential employers will see a large learning curve if you were to jump into their organization.”
It’s not just the InfoTrust team who values GCP certifications. In fact, Lehmann points out that organizations are actively looking for candidates with GCP certifications right now.
“A quick search shows me more than 10 job postings that prefer one specific Google Certification,” says Lehmann. “In the engineering world right now, it is hard to prove that someone ‘knows their stuff’ and this is something concrete and difficult to attain that proves you know what you are doing. Outside of just getting a job, this certification helps your understanding of Google Cloud solutions immensely. Once you finish studying for the certification, you will feel like you can solve any data issue or architect a data solution using GCP.”
Which GCP Certifications Are Right for You?
There are three tiers of GCP certifications: foundational, associate, and professional.
The foundational certification is designed for individuals looking to gain a broad understanding of Cloud capabilities. You won’t need expert knowledge of the GCP; however, this certification is a good introduction to general Google Cloud knowledge. To earn this certification, you must pass the Cloud Digital Leader exam.
If you’re looking to strengthen your understanding of GCP beyond the basics, the associate certification could be perfect. Google recommends this certification for anyone with six or more months building on Google Cloud. Passing the Associate Cloud Engineer exam will prove to employers you know how to set up, configure, and deploy a cloud solution. It also puts you on the path towards professional level certifications.
Finally, there are a wealth of options if you consider yourself more of a seasoned pro rather than a beginner. If you’ve worked with Google Cloud for more than a year, or have three or more years of industry experience, then there are eight different exams to test your knowledge on advanced topics. These topics span various technical areas, so it’s important to read over the exam descriptions to know which will suit you best.
Please note there are mandatory registration fees for each exam. You might try asking your current employer to help cover the costs. At InfoTrust, we pay the exam fees for engineers looking to pass GCP certifications, since we believe in the value of continuous professional development.
Most exams fit the multiple choice and multiple-select testing format, last around a couple hours, and can be taken online or offline at an approved testing center.
How Should You Study?
Lehmann acknowledges that the GCP Certifications are both tricky and difficult to study for effectively. He suggests starting with Coursera classes, especially if you don’t have much experience with Google Cloud already (although they are a good resource nonetheless). From there, practice exams are your best friend.
“Once I completed a few practice exams, I had a better idea of what the questions would look like and where I was still lacking understanding,” says Lehmann. “Most of the questions are around deciding the best solution for a given client case study. If you can pass two or three practice exams, you should be ready for the exam.”
- Beware: Exams do touch on some of the newer Google products that the practice exams do not include.
- When you take the test, keep an eye on the clock to make sure you don’t run out of time!
- If you take the exam remotely, you can skip questions and return to them later. Lehmann found that reading later questions helped to jog his memory or clear up confusion on some earlier questions.
GCP Certifications help test your knowledge no matter your skill level. They can be difficult, even for the professionals, but the payoff is worth it.
“I thought this exam was very challenging,” says Lehmann, “so keep your head up if you do not pass the first time and go at it again!”