Are you interested in becoming a Google Cloud Platform certified professional?

Last year, I took five out of the seven (at the time of this writing) of the GCP professional exams:

In this post, I'll share some information about the exams, my strategies for passing them, as well as a link to the study guides I created along the way. These guides have been battle tested by more than a hundred professionals (so far) who successfully got certified with their help.

About the certification exams

Professional Cloud Architect

Professional Cloud Architect certification logo
  • Length: 2 hours
  • Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
  • Languages: English, Japanese.
  • Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select, taken remotely or in person at a test enter. Locate a test center near you.
  • Exam Delivery Method:
    • Take the online-proctored exam from a remote location, review the online testing requirements.
    • Take the onsite-proctored exam at a testing center, locate a test center near you.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using GCP.

Reference: https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-architect

Professional Data Engineer

Professional Data Engineer certification logo
  • Length: 2 hours
  • Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
  • Languages: English, Japanese.
  • Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select taken remotely or in person at a test center. Locate a test center near you.
  • Exam Delivery Method:
    •  Take the online-proctored exam from a remote location, review the online testing requirements.
    • Take the onsite-proctored exam at a testing center, Locate a test center near you.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using GCP.

Reference: https://cloud.google.com/certification/data-engineer

Professional Cloud Security Engineer

Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification logo
  • Length: 2 hours
  • Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
  • Languages: English.
    Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select, taken in person at a test center. Locate a test center near you.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using GCP.

Reference: https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-security-engineer

Professional Cloud Network Engineer

Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification logo
  • Length: 2 hours
  • Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
  • Languages: English.
  • Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select, taken in person at a test center. Locate a test center near you.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using GCP.

Reference: https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-network-engineer

Professional Cloud Developer

Professional Cloud Developer certification logo

Honestly, this one caught me by surprise. Back in December 2019, when I took the exam, there wasn't anything saying it was in beta. By that time, this was the information available at the exam page:

  • Length: 2 hours
  • Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
  • Languages: English, Japanese.
  • Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select, taken in person at a test center. Locate a test center near you.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using GCP.

At the time of this writing, though, the information available on the exam page is very different, as you can see below:

Beta certification exams are newly developed assessments. We gather performance statistics on the questions and use these statistics to create the certification standards for the final exams. If you pass, you are Google Cloud Certified.

  • Save 40% on the cost of certification
  • Prove early adoption by claiming a low certificate number if you pass
  • Get exclusive Google-branded apparel
  • Refer to our FAQs for more details

Specifics about the beta

  • Length: 4 hours
  • Registration fee: $120 USD (40% discount on retail price of $200 USD) (plus tax where applicable)
  • Languages: English.
  • Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select, taken in person at a test center. Locate a test center near you.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using GCP.
  • Beta exam preparation resources:
    - To take the upcoming beta exam, use the revised exam guide.

Reference: https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-developer

The Preparation Process

Now that you have all the basic information about the exams, it's time to study and get ready to pass them. My preparation process for the five exams I took involved the following steps:

  1. Read the exam overviews:
    •  Professional Cloud Architect exam overview
    •  Professional Data Engineer exam overview
    •  Professional Cloud Security Engineer exam overview
    •  Professional Cloud Network Engineer exam overview
    •  Professional Cloud Developer exam overview
  2. Read the exam guides:
    •  Professional Cloud Architect exam guide
    •  Professional Data Engineer exam guide
    •  Professional Cloud Security Engineer exam guide
    •  Professional Cloud Network Engineer exam guide
    •  Professional Cloud Developer exam guide
  3. Next, visit the products page of the platform and identify each product that may be related to the topics listed on the exam guides. For GCP, you can find this list here.
  4. For each of the products identified in the prior step, visit its Documentation/Concepts page and start reading about each of the concepts that are relevant for the given product. Check the GCE concepts page, for example.
  5. You’ll probably notice some products seem to overlap with each other, and you might find it difficult to know when to use one or the other. Google Search is your best friend here. :)
  6. For the Cloud Architect exam, after going through each product and its concepts, read the sample study cases provided by Google and try to design potential solutions that could address the requirements described on them.
    •  Mountkirk games study case
    •  Dress4Win study case
    •  TerramEarth study case

    For the Data Engineer exam, the sample study cases have been recently removed and weren't part of the exam anymore, at least until June 2019.

    All the other exams didn't make use of sample study cases, as of 2019.
  7. Finally, take the practice exams. The practice exams provide an explanation for each of the questions after you finish them. They also help you get an idea of the format of the questions you’ll face on each exam and will help you know how prepared you are.
    •  Professional Cloud Architect practice exam
    •  Professional Data Engineer practice exam
    •  Professional Cloud Security Engineer practice exam
    •  Professional Cloud Network Engineer practice exam
    •  Professional Cloud Developer practice exam
  8. After finishing the practice exams, take notes of the topics that didn’t go well and re-read the relevant documentation collected on step 4 above.
  9. Take the practice exams again (you can take them as many times as you want) and keep repeating steps from 6 to 8 until you feel confident to take the real exams.

Study guides

From my own experience, I can tell you it's a lot of work. For this reason, I decided to contribute back to the community and share the study guides I created throughout my preparation process.

The study guides are contained in the spreadsheet linked below, each on a separate tab.

[Ivam Luz] GCP Professional Certifications - Study Guides
Disclaimer Disclaimer This guide is shared with the only intent of helping people aiming to take the following GCP Professional certification exams. - Professional Cloud Architect - Professional Data Engineer - Professional Security Engineer - Professional Network Engineer - Professional Cloud...
Spreadsheet containing the study guides

To use it, create your own copy. Once you do it, the spreadsheet will be made writable to you and you’ll be able to update the Status column, which you’ll help you to track your progress through the material:

A screenshot of the spreadsheet with reference material for both professional certification exams.

You can freely copy, change and distribute this material. The only thing I kindly ask from you is that you keep a reference to the original material and give me proper credits, if you feel it's helpful.

Even though the Cloud Developer exam is back in beta, I believe the guide I created is still relevant, as it covers a lot of the topics (probably even more than what's needed_.

Disclaimer

I'm sharing these guides with the only intent of helping people aiming to take the Google Cloud Professional certification exams. Be advised there is no guarantee that following the guides will make you pass the exams. Use them at your own discretion.

Tips for taking your exams

  1. Know what each product does, what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, as well as its billing characteristics.
  2. As you can see above, except for the Cloud Developer exam, which seems to be back in beta, you have 2 hours to finish the exams. Keep in mind that good time management is crucial for your success.
  3. Don’t spend too much time on questions you don’t know. If you aren’t sure about an answer, mark the question to be reviewed later and move on to the next questions.
  4. Practice as much as possible using the practice exams.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the greatest value of a certification is to help you know which subjects are important to learn as a professional, if you are willing to work with a specific technology.

The Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification exam helped me a lot in guiding my studies to learn more about the security aspects of the Google Cloud Platform. It helped me learn about specific concerns we should have when considering or using many of the platform products from a security standpoint.

The Cloud Network Engineer certification was the hardest one I took out of the five. I believe it’s due to the fact my whole career was focused on Software Development so far.

I recognize that, just because I got certified, it doesn’t mean I am now a network specialist (and, honestly, I don’t really intend to be). As some people say, a certification is just a “piece of paper”, right? On the other hand, I certainly learned a lot during this process and having some networking skills in my belt certainly makes me a better professional.

In fact, some of these skills have already helped me solve some infrastructure issues from one of my clients.

Besides all that, certifications are still highly valued by the market and may help you stand out from the crowd.

As a final tip, if you aren't sure which certification you should take first, this is the order I'd recommend (unless you have specific needs related to your job or are strongly focused on a specific area):

  1. Professional Cloud Architect
  2. Professional Cloud Security Engineer
  3. Professional Data Engineer
  4. Professional Cloud Network Engineer
  5. Professional Cloud Developer (because it's back in beta, otherwise it would probably be number 3 in this list)

I hope this article and the referenced study guides help you in your journey to become a Google Cloud certified professional and I wish you all the success in your career!

Crossing into the light
Photo by Mahdi Dastmard / Unsplash