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A Guide to Google Cloud Certification in 2024

This guide provides a robust pathway for professionals to validate their expertise in cloud technology, enhance career prospects, and gain industry credibility. It will help beginners and intermediate learners understand the certification paths, their benefits, and the steps to achieving these valuable credentials.
Jul 2024  · 9 min read

As cloud computing becomes integral to business operations, the demand for skilled cloud professionals is growing rapidly. But, many struggled to demonstrate their proficiency with the new technology due to the lack of standardized, industry-recognized certifications. 

The rapid evolution of cloud technology outpaced traditional IT training programs, leaving professionals without formal credentials to validate their skills. This gap made it challenging for employers to accurately assess candidates' cloud expertise and for professionals to showcase their capabilities in a competitive job market.

Google recognized this problem and introduced its Cloud Certifications initiative in 2016 to mitigate it. Google says its “role-based certifications measure an individual’s proficiency at performing a specific job role using Google Cloud technology.” 

They’re supposed to empower individuals to advance their careers and give employers the confidence to build highly skilled, effective teams. However, after 8 years of its inception, is that still what it’s doing? Let’s see. 

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Is a Google Cloud Certification Worth it in 2024?

Like most things in tech, the answer to this question is not straightforward. 

According to responses from developers in the Google Cloud Subreddit, a Google Cloud certification has quite a lot of value, but it depends on many factors, such as: 

  • Are you working working with Google Cloud? 
  • Do you want to understand how the platform works? 
  • Does the role you are doing/aspiring to require a certification? 

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then a Google Cloud Certification is undoubtedly worth it in 2024.

However, there are some more general things to consider. 

An image of the words Google overlaying a plain transit map in the sky.

Image created by the author using Midjourney

Demand

Various industry reports believe the cloud market is expected to expand significantly. For example, IDC research forecasts that in 2024: 

"Cloud infrastructure spending will grow 19.3% compared to 2023 to $129.9 billion. Non-cloud infrastructure is expected to decline 1.4% to $57.6 billion. Shared cloud infrastructure is expected to grow 21.6% year over year to $95.3 billion for the full year while spending on dedicated cloud infrastructure is expected to have robust growth of 13.3% in 2024 to $34.6 billion for the full year.”

Worldwide Enterprise Infrastructure Buyer and Cloud Deployment Forecast | Source: IDC Research 

In other words, the demand for professionals who can effectively navigate cloud services is rising. As Google is one of the leading players in the cloud service market (top 3), getting cloud-certified on their platform can go a long way. 

Challenges

The exams, which must be completed to get the certification, cost money. Prices range from $99 for the lowest-level certificate to $200 for the professional levels. This may pose financial challenges for some candidates. 

What Jobs Can You Get with a Google Cloud Certification?

While a Google Cloud Certification does not guarantee a job, it can certainly be a great addition to gaining a competitive edge. For context, a certification only proves that certain concepts have been understood, but what matters to an employer is your ability to apply what you’ve learned. 

Completing a Google Cloud Certification can position you well to land interesting jobs. Here are three examples: 

Why Get Google Cloud Certified?

Obtaining a Google Cloud Certification offers numerous benefits for professionals seeking opportunities to enhance their careers in the tech industry, including: 

Career advancement

A Google Cloud Certification can open doors to new job opportunities and career advancement. Certified professionals are often considered for higher-level positions and can command higher salaries. According to numerous industry surveys, cloud-certified professionals typically earn significantly more than their non-certified counterparts​. 

Skill validation

The certification process includes participating in rigorous exams to test your practical and theoretical understanding of GCP. This means you must learn to use GCP effectively for your certification to stand a chance of passing the exam. Thus, obtaining a Google Cloud Certification validates your skills and knowledge in Google Cloud. It informs people of interest in your ability to design, develop, manage, and administer cloud-based solutions. 

Job market demand

As more organizations migrate to the cloud, the demand for skilled professionals rises. As one of the leading cloud service providers, being certified can make you a more attractive candidate to employers looking for specific expertise in Google Cloud technologies.

A Breakdown of All the Google Cloud Certifications

At the time of writing, there are 11 Google Cloud Certifications that fall into three categories: 

  • Foundational certification - Used to validate broad knowledge of cloud concepts. This includes an understanding of the products, services, tools, features, benefits, and use cases of Google Cloud. 
  • Associate certification – Used to validate fundamental skills required to deploy and maintain cloud projects. 
  • Professional certification – This includes specialized certifications that validate the key technical job functions and advanced skills in the design, implementation, and management of Google Cloud products. 

Let’s go through each certification in the category under which it falls. 

Foundational certification

Cloud digital leader

This is an entry-level certification for those who wish to demonstrate their knowledge of cloud computing basics and how Google Cloud products and services can be used to achieve organizational objectives. 

When you’re a Digital Cloud Leader, you can articulate the capabilities of Google Cloud’s core products and services, including how they benefit organizations. You can also describe common business use cases and how cloud solutions support an enterprise. 

This certification tests your knowledge of Google Cloud in the following areas: 

  • Digital transformation
  • Innovating with AI 
  • Data transformation
  • Trust and security 
  • Modernizing infrastructure and applications 
  • Scaling 

The recommended experience for this certification is collaboration with technical professionals. However, other than that, there are no prerequisites to take the exam, which costs $99. The exam format is 50-60 multiple-choice and multiple-select questions; candidates have 90 minutes to complete it. 

Note that this certification is only valid for three years from the certification date. To get recertified, the exam must be retaken during the recertification eligibility time period, which begins 60 days before the expiration date, and you must receive a passing score. 

Associate certification

Cloud engineer

This is a role-based certification for those who seek to demonstrate their knowledge of deploying applications, monitoring operations, and managing enterprise solutions. 

As a cloud engineer, you have experience working with public clouds and on-premise solutions, and you can perform platform-based tasks to maintain and scale one or more deployed solutions that leverage Google-managed or self-managed services on GCP. 

The Associate Cloud Engineer exam assesses your knowledge of cloud solutions by asking you to perform the following tasks:  

  • Set up a cloud solution
  • Plan and configure a cloud solution 
  • Deploy and implement a cloud solution
  • Ensure successful operation 
  • Configure access and security

Google recommends you have 6+ months of hands-on experience before taking this certification, but there are no prerequisites. The registration fee for this 2-hour exam is $125 (plus tax where applicable), and the exam format consists of 50-60 multiple-choice and multiple-select questions. 

Like the cloud digital leader certification, this certification is only valid for 3 years from the certification date. To get recertified, you must pass the exam during the recertification eligibility time period, which begins 60 days before the expiration date. 

Professional certification

Cloud architect

The cloud architect certification validates one's ability to design, develop, and manage robust, secure, scalable Google Cloud solutions. It’s for anyone who seeks to prove they have advanced design and implementation skills with Google Cloud’s technologies. 

The exam will assess a candidate's ability to: 

  • Design and plan cloud solution architecture 
  • Manage and provision the cloud infrastructure
  • Design for security and compliance 
  • Manage implementations of cloud architecture
  • Analyze and optimize technical business processes
  • Ensure solution and operations reliability 

Google recommends candidates should have 3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud. There are prerequisites to take the 2-hour exam, but it will knock you back $200 (plus tax where applicable). 

This certification is valid for 2 years. Recertification is accomplished by retaking the exam during the eligibility period, which is 60 days before the certification expiration date, and passing. 

Comparison table 

Above, we only covered 3 of the 11 available certifications. To give you a quick overview of what you can expect from the other certifications, we created this comparison table: 

 

Category

Length 

Registration Fee

Languages

Recommended experience

Recertification

Cloud Digital Leader

Foundational

90 mins

$99

English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, French

Collaboration with technical professionals

3 years

Cloud Engineer

Associate

2 hours

$125 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese

6+ months of hands-on experience with Google Cloud

3 years

Cloud Architect

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud

2 years

Cloud Database Engineer

Professional

2 hours 

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English

5+ years of overall database and IT experience, including 2 years of hands-on experience working with Google Cloud database solutions

2 years

Cloud Developer

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing Google Cloud solutions.

2 years

Data Engineer

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing Google Cloud solutions.

2 years

Cloud DevOps Engineer

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing production systems using Google Cloud

2 years

Cloud Security Engineer

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing Google Cloud solutions.

2 years

Cloud Network Engineer

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing Google Cloud solutions.

2 years

Google Workspace Administrator

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience including 1+ year of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) administration experience.

2 years

Machine Learning Engineer

Professional

2 hours

$200 (plus tax where applicable)

English, Japanese

3+ years of industry experience, including 1+ years designing and managing Google Cloud solutions.

2 years

4 Tips to Prepare for Google Cloud Certification Exams

Earning a Google Cloud certification has been shown to enhance individuals' visibility in the job market and showcase their capability to drive significant change and transformation within organizations.

According to the 2020 Google Cloud certification impact report, 1 in 4 Google Cloud-certified individuals take on more responsibility or leadership roles at work, and  87% of Google Cloud-certified users feel more confident in their cloud skills. 

But what’s the best way to prepare? 

Here are four tips to help you: 

#1 Get hands-on experience with Google Cloud

Google Cloud offers all customers a free tier of select products (e.g., Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, and Big Query). When you stay within the free tier limits, these resources are not charged to your Billing account payment method. Use this access to your benefit – especially if your desired certification is more technical. Don’t underestimate the power of hands-on experience working in the real Google Cloud console. 

#2 Practice sample questions 

Exam guides outline the framework for creating exam questions and serve as a study aid for candidates. While it's advisable to be ready to tackle questions on any subject covered in the exam guide, not every topic is assured to appear on the exam. 

Still, exploring and practicing sample questions is important to get accustomed to the exam format. By reviewing the sample questions provided on each certification page, you’ll be better prepared for the content that may be included in the exam.

#3 Diversify your learning

Most people begin their certification journey following the study guide from their chosen certification or using platforms like Coursera, but this isn’t enough. Don’t fall into the trap of relying solely upon one learning source. Although it may seem sufficient, this approach only scratches the surface. 

Instead, diversify your study materials. Incorporate various learning resources, including DataCamp’s resources, which offer in-depth coverage and practical insights into what may appear in your exam. This more holistic approach ensures you’re well-prepared for the full spectrum of topics that may arise come exam day. 

#4 Community and forums

Join online communities and forums to connect with peers, ask questions, and share insights​.

The Value of Role-Based Certifications  

If you’re still unsure what certification to pursue, I suggest role-based certifications. Why? Because the alignment with existing jobs ensures that the acquired skills and knowledge immediately apply to real-world tasks – this enhances job performance and productivity through practical expertise relevant to one's role.

For employers, role-based certifications help streamline the hiring process by clearly indicating that a candidate has the necessary skills for a particular position. Thus reducing the risk and time required to train new hires. 

These certifications can also accelerate professional career advancement, as they demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and proficiency in essential technologies and practices.

Additionally, role-based certifications often involve hands-on experience with tools and services directly related to job functions, fostering a deeper understanding and capability in managing cloud environments effectively.

In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, having a certification tailored to a specific role ensures that you remain current with the latest industry standards and best practices, making you more competitive and valuable in the job market.

Overview of DataCamp’s Role-Based Certifications

DataCamp also provides certifications that officially recognize your attainment of the necessary skill level in a specific profession. These certifications, like Google Cloud Certifications, are developed with industry experts from various sectors and roles. They assess your capabilities through timed exams and practical case studies designed to simulate real-world scenarios commonly encountered in the workplace.

Here are a few examples of certifications available: 

All DataCamp Certifications are included for free with your premium subscriptions, so there are no additional costs.

Conclusion

As cloud computing becomes essential to business operations, the demand for skilled cloud professionals continues to grow. Google Cloud’s certifications address this need by validating specific job-related skills. As one of the top 3 cloud service providers, these certifications help professionals stand out in a competitive job market. Despite some financial challenges associated with certification costs, the potential for career advancement and skill validation makes pursuing a Google Cloud Certification a worthwhile investment for many in 2024 and beyond.

To continue your learning, check out the following resources: 

Google Cloud Certification FAQs

Are Google Cloud certifications worth it?

Yes, Google Cloud certifications can be worth it as they validate your expertise in cloud technology, enhancing career prospects and industry credibility. However, for some, a role-based certification may be more suitable.

Which certification is better, AWS or GCP?

The choice between AWS and GCP certifications depends on your career goals and the specific cloud services your industry uses. AWS certifications are often more recognized due to AWS's market dominance, while GCP certifications are valuable for roles in organizations leveraging Google Cloud's innovative services. Ultimately, both certifications are beneficial, but selecting the one that aligns with your professional needs and employer demands is crucial.

Are Google Cloud certifications suitable for beginners?

Yes, Google Cloud offers certifications suitable for beginners, such as the Cloud Digital Leader certification, which covers fundamental cloud concepts and Google Cloud services.

What is the cheapest Google Cloud certification?

The cheapest Google Cloud certification is the Cloud Digital Leader, which costs $99. This foundational certification is designed for individuals looking to demonstrate their understanding of basic cloud concepts and Google Cloud services.

What cloud service is in demand?

 Cloud computing services are in high demand, particularly for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings.


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