What’s the best path for Google Cloud Certification?
Which certification should I choose from all the options?
If I’m interested in machine learning, should I opt for Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect certification?
These are just a few of the common questions IT professionals—both aspiring and experienced—ask. It can be daunting to map out a Google Cloud certification journey. Don’t worry! I’m here to help.
But first, let’s review all the certifications offered by Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
Google Cloud Certification Summary
Cloud Digital Leader
The GCP Cloud Digital Leader certification is intended for professionals with no prior IT experience who would like to learn and demonstrate knowledge of cloud fundamentals.
The exam validates your knowledge and ability to:
- Devise a scalable infrastructure in Google Cloud
- Engineer solutions with data and Google Cloud
- Implement security in a cloud solution
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Cloud Digital Leader and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
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Professional Cloud Architect
The GCP Professional Cloud Architect certification is intended for IT professionals who have more than three years experience designing and orchestrating cloud solutions.
Cloud architects are responsible for designing solutions that are highly available, scalable and durable, as well as affordable and fully secured. A Cloud Architect is not only expected to be an expert in creating cloud solutions, but also demonstrate hands-on experience in DevOps and automation.
The exam will evaluate your ability to:
- Design, plan and orchestrate a cloud solution architecture
- Consider security and compliance in your solution design
- Analyze and optimize technical and business processes
- Ensure solution and operations reliability
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Cloud Architect and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Cloud Developer
The GCP Professional Cloud Developer certification exam is designed for the engineers and developers who build cloud native applications that are scalable, available, dynamic and resilient in nature.
Professional cloud developers are not limited to designing the high-level design (HLD) of the product, but also deploying it with the principle of least privilege.
To pass the exam, you’ll ned to be proficient in at least one programming languages like Python or Go.
The exam will evaluate your ability to:
- Design highly scalable, available, reliable cloud-native applications using services like Cloud Source Repository, Google Cloud Storage and Google Compute Engine.
- Define the testing phases of the application
- Build and deploy cloud applications
- Manage application performance monitoring using Cloud Trace and Cloud Profiler
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Cloud Developer and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Cloud Security Engineer
The GCP Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification is designed for Security Vulnerability Chaser or for IT professionals who design and implement secure infrastructure that includes configuring access, managing operations and ensuring compliance and data protection.
GCP security engineers must have strong hands-on expertise with organization policies and constraints, providing data protection using customer managed encryption keys (CMEK), customer supplied encryption keys (CSEK) and key management service (KMS), configuring network security defences using firewall rules, virtual private cloud (VPC) service control, packet mirroring and rirewall insights, container analysis, and IAM.
The certification exam will evaluate you ability to:
- Configure access within a cloud solution environment following the Principle of Least Privilege
- Manage operations and configure network security
- Ensure compliance and data protection
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Cloud Security Engineer and Google Cloud Official Guide for more details on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Cloud Network Engineer
Networking is considered one of the most critical aspects of a good cloud solution—and the GCP Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification is an important one.
The examination involves implementing and managing network architecture in the Google Cloud Platform, designing, planning, prototyping and optimizing a Google Cloud network, building a defended framework, and implementing hybrid connectivity from on premises to the cloud.
You will be evaluated on your ability to:
- Design, plan and prototype a Google Cloud network
- Implement Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Firewall Rules, virtual private networks (VPN) and cloud network address translation (NAT) services.
- Implement hybrid interconnectivity
- Manage, monitor and optimize network operations using monitoring, logging, alert policies and uptime checks
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Cloud Network Engineer and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Data Engineer
GCP Professional Data Engineer is the top-paying IT certification. Data engineers are experts in collecting, transforming and publishing the data using CloudSQL, BigTable, BigQuery, Datastore and Google Cloud Storage with reliability, flexibility and portability.
Data engineers are also competent in deploying and training machine learning models using BigQuery ML and AutoML.
The certification exam will evaluate your ability to:
- Design data processing systems
- Operationalize machine learning models
- Build and operationalize data processing systems
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Data Engineer and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Cloud Database Engineer
The GCP Professional Cloud Database Engineer certification is intended for the database engineer who performs tasks to design, create, manage, migrate and build scalable, cost-effective database solutions.
The certification exam assesses your ability to:
- Design highly scalable, available and durable cloud database solutions
- Manage a solution that spans multiple database solutions
- Migrate data solutions using hybrid architecture
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Cloud Database Engineer and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer
A GCP Cloud DevOps Engineer delivers reliability to already-deployed cloud solutions, as well as defining the service level indicators (SLI) and service level objectives (SLO) for a particular cloud solution environment as well as maintaining the service level agreements (SLA).
DevOps engineers deal with Google Cloud DevOps tools, such as Cloud Source Repository for storing the codebase, Cloud Build for orchestrating pipelines, and Container Registry for storing artifacts.
To earn this certification, you need to have extensive hands-on experience with cloud monitoring, logging, trace, and profiler along with DevOps tools such as Terraform for IaC, Jenkins and Spinnaker for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
The exam will validate your ability to:
- Apply site reliability engineering principles to a cloud solution environment
- Implement deployment and monitoring strategies
- Define SLIs and SLOs, and maintain SLAs
- Build and implement CI/CD pipelines for a service
- Manage service incidents by defining Incident Commander, Team Lead and On-Calls
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Machine Learning Engineer
A Professional Machine Learning Engineer is expected to design and build scalable machine learning (ML) models using Google Cloud technologies and demonstrate strong fundamentals in Machine Learning algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Machine Learning Engineers should be proficient in all aspects of model architecture, data pipeline interaction, and metrics interpretation.
This certification exam will test your ability to:
- Frame, develop and optimize ML solutions
- Automate and set up ML pipelines
- Monitor, optimize and maintain ML solutions
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Machine Learning Engineer and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Professional Google Workspace Administrator
A Professional Google Workspace Administrator—formerly the Professional Collaboration Engineer certification—helps people to communicate, collaborate and access data in a secure and efficient manner. They are expected to transform business objectives into tangible configurations, policies, and security practices as they relate to users, content, and integrations.
This certification exam will assess your ability to:
- Plan and implement Google Workspace authorization and access
- Construct and govern endpoint access and management (EAM).
- Monitor organizational activity and support collaboration.
You can refer to Google Cloud Official Documentation for Professional Google Workspace Administrator and Google Cloud Official Guide for a better outlook on the topics covered by the exam.
Best Google Cloud Certification Path for You
Now that you know about the 11 Google Cloud certifications, you want to decide which you should focus on based on your current experience level and goals since earning all the credentials isn't realistic (or necessary) for most IT professionals. Below, I outline some common paths, the certifications you can work toward and the order in which you should earn GCP certifications.
The best GCP path for Beginners and Students
This path is for people with little or no prior experience with Google Cloud. My advice is to start with the basics of Google Cloud by following the Google Cloud Digital Leader training.
This path can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complte depending on your current job role and knowledge level, how consisten you are with training, and how much hands-on practice you get.
The best path for Mid-level Cloud Professionals
This path is especially good for people who have solid know-how and experience in Google Cloud technology and anyone responsible for the administration and development of cloud-native applications in Google Cloud.
For the best results, begin this path by brushing up on your skills with Associate Cloud Engineer training followed by Professional Cloud Architect training and complete it with Professional Cloud Developer training.
This certification path can take 6 months to 2 years to finish depending on your dedication to learning and practice and current skills level and expertise.
The best path for Senior-level Cloud Professionals:
- Associate Cloud Engineer
- Professional Cloud Network Engineer
- Professional Cloud Security Engineer
- Professional Cloud Architect
The path is designed for IT and cloud professionals who are already working, maintaining, developing, and optimising Google Cloud workloads and applications. Networking and security are the backbone cloud computing, so don't start this certification path without first having a very strong foundation in the security and networking disciplines.
Furthermore, I recommend completing the Professional Cloud Security Engineer training and the Professional Cloud Network Engineer training simultaneously as both the certifications have an overlapping curriculum, followed by the Professional Cloud Architect training which covers at length all the aspects of administration in Google Cloud.
This Google certification path requires 1-2 years to completed based on your learning consistency and time you spend on hands-on, real-world projects.
The best path for Executives and Managers:
This path is for technology executives and leaders who deal with tasks like client-facing discussions, creating high-level product designs, and solving business problems by recommending the best affordable solutions.
My advice is to start with the basice and complete the Google Cloud Digital Leader training before moving on to the Associate Cloud Engineer and Professional Cloud Architect training.
Expect to spend 6 months to 1 year on preparation for these certifications.
The best path for Data Engineers, Scientists and Analysts:
This path is meant for Data Engineers, Data Scientists, Data Analysts, and all other individuals who work closely with data, whether it is cleaning data, analysing it or deriving meaningful insights.
Data is a critical asset for any company, so anyone responsible for managing and handling data should be aware of the products available in Google Cloud and scalable data
handling. I recommend starting with the Associate Cloud Engineer training, followed by Professional Cloud Data Analyst, Professional Cloud Data Engineer and Professional Cloud Database Engineer training.
This certification path requires anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to fully complete.
The best path for DevOps Enthusiasts:
This GCP path is for IT professionals who deal with automating processes, creating end-to-end services, and are directly involved in development and operations functions.
Start with the fundamentals and complete Associate Cloud Engineer training first, followed by Professional Cloud Architect training, and finally the role-specific Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer training.
The DevOps certification path can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete based on your current expertise and knowledge level with Google Cloud and DevOps tools and processes.
The best path for Machine Learning Engineers:
This path is recommended for machine learning professionals who are exploring how to use Google Cloud for building better and more efficient models.
Start this path by learning the the basics of Google Cloud with Associate Cloud Engineer training, then go deeper with Professional Cloud Architect training, and finish by mastering machine learning principles with Professional Cloud Machine Learning training.
The Machine Learing path requires anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of time to fully complete.
The best path for Administrators and Agile/Scrum Masters:
IT team leaders such as scrum masters and administrators are pillars of effective cloud teams. This path is designed for such people who require a strong understanding of Google Cloud to enhance their and the team's productivity.
For the best rounded education, start with Associate Cloud Engineer training and Professional Cloud Architect training, followed by Professional Collaboration Engineer training to dive deep into collaboration and leadership principles.
This path requires anywhere from 6 months to 1 year to complete depending on how consistent you are with training and your current job role and experience level.
The best path for Network and Security Engineers:
If you're a security or network professional, or interested in pursuing a career in this function, this certification path is for you. In Google Cloud, creating and managing the security and network of products is crucial. One has to choose from the variety of services offered by Google Cloud, ranging from basic features such as Firewall Rules to advanced features such as Service Perimeter and Bridge.
To learn these skills, follow this path by focusing on Google Cloud foundations with Associate Cloud Engineer training, then master networking and security with Professional Cloud Security Engineer and Professional Cloud Network Engineer training.