An Associate Cloud Engineer deploy applications, monitor operations, and manage enterprise solutions. They use Google Cloud Console and the command-line interface to perform common platform-based tasks to maintain one or more deployed solutions that leverage Google-managed or self-managed services on Google Cloud.
The Associate Cloud Engineer exam assesses your ability to:
- Set up a cloud solution environment
- Plan and configure a cloud solution
- Deploy and implement a cloud solution
- Ensure the successful operation of a cloud solution
- Configure access and security
Why get Google Cloud Certified?
Google Cloud Platform is one of the leading cloud providers. This exam can be taken as a first step in learning about cloud services and how those concepts are exemplified by Google. Whether your business is early in its journey or well on its way to digital transformation, Google Cloud’s solutions and technologies help chart a path to success.
If you are familiar with Azure or AWS it’s time to take your cloud journey to the next level by getting used to a multi-cloud environment. If you are not familiar with those, it is best to start with Google Cloud.
According to Google’s Website, these are some of the advantages of a certified professional
- 87% of Google Cloud-certified users feel more confident in cloud skills.
- Google Cloud certifications are among the highest-paying IT certifications of 2022.
- More than 1 in 4 of Google Cloud-certified individuals took on more responsibility or leadership roles at work.
Before attempting the ACE exam, Google recommends that you have 6+ months of hands-on experience with Google Cloud products and solutions. Although, trust me that if you are someone who does not have this prior experience and is just setting their first foot onto the cloud, with the right resources & good hands-on with google cloud console & command line, you would ace this exam in your first attempt.
GCP ACE comparison with other peers (AWS, Azure) :
Each cloud provider has at least one associate-level certification. These dig quite a bit into the real usage of cloud services and are fairly technical.
- Microsoft has the Associate level across Data, Security, AI, Data Science, Database, Administration & Development.
- Amazon has the Solution Architect Associate, Developer Associate & Sysops Administration Associate
- Google has the Associate Cloud Engineer
Google only has one Associate Certification & so naturally, it broadly covers all the domains like data, databases, administration, security & development. This certification can be referred to as “Mile Wide, Inch Deep”, meaning that it covers all the aspects of Google Cloud but only goes deeper in certain sections, while other domains although covered, are not tested in-depth on these. There are professional certifications from Google Cloud for each domain that test you in depth in those domains.
Amazon Web Services & Microsoft Azure have associate certification catering to almost every domain, at least Azure has associate certification for every domain, whereas Amazon Web Services cover Administration, Development & Design domain, but one can expect these AWS certifications to broadly cover other domains as well
How did I prepare?
I started my cloud journey with AWS Solution Architect Exam, I had already cleared the AWS SAA exam before stepping onto Google Cloud. So, even though AWS & GCP have a lot of differences, the basics of the cloud are followed across the platforms, so this gave me a head start of sorts before giving my ACE exam.
I would also like to point out that my organization works majorly with Google Cloud. And so naturally, I had some experience working on Google Cloud Console & Google Cloud Command-Line. Nonetheless, I’m sure the courses & content I’m going to list down, would have helped me in the same way even if I had no prior experience with Google Cloud.
I started my GCP Associate Cloud Engineer Journey in June 2021 and was able to complete the certification in 2 months on my first attempt.
Courses i used :
You can start with any of the following courses
- GCP Associate Cloud Engineer — Google Cloud Certification By Ranga Karanam
Pros:- All the services are well-covered and pretty descriptive. Language, voice tone, and content are well-managed and easy to understand. This course has all the things you need to clear the certification exam. You can practice hands-on after the theory sessions to get the most out of this course.
Cons:- Practical Examples should have been more, but you can always create your problem statements after the theory to cover practical examples for that session.
A Cloud Guru
- Acloudguru Course on GCP ACE by Mattias Anderson
Pros:- This course develops your thinking on how to understand fundamental cloud concepts & how to extrapolate that to implement in other concepts.
Cons:- The course content itself does not completely cover all the aspects of the exam guide.
Byte Videos & Sketch Notes:
Apart from these courses, which cover almost all the aspects of the exam, you might want to explore a particular topic in depth or you feel a particular topic is not well covered in the course, for such topics you can have a look at the Youtube Playlist created by AwesomeGCP channel.
The AweSome GCP channel has an interesting take on understanding the exam concepts where they first place a question similar to the one asked in the exam and then they discuss all the options describing in detail how an option is correct or incorrect.
One can also refer to byte-size videos on interesting topics on the CloudGirl youtube channel. This channel uses sketch notes to explain interesting topics. Some of the topics like how to choose the right database or how to choose the right load balancer are covered in a fun & interesting way in these videos.
Getting Your Hands Dirty:
Creating your project on the Google cloud console & practicing concepts after the video content is one of the most important aspects of clearing this exam. Once you implement watched content, you get complete clarity of that concept. Google Cloud provides credits worth $300 for 3 months when you create a project from a new email id, this covers all the Google cloud products & makes sure you can practice all the essential topics.
After you feel confident about the content covered in the course, it is the right time to test your preparedness for the actual exam. Google provides a set of 20-25 sample questions for the exam, you can treat this set of questions as a real exam with half the questions & time. You can also buy a set of practice exams from Whizlabs, they provide 4-5 sets each with 50 questions. These questions are very similar to the actual exam. Once you start a practice exam, make sure you treat it like a real exam, choosing your preferred time that you would choose for the exam & finishing the exam in 120 minutes. Once you consistently score above 80%, you can consider yourself ready for the exam.
About Exam & Exam Registration
There are two types of questions in the exam: Multiple-choice which has one correct answer and three incorrect answers and Multiple- answers which has multiple correct answers. I think you would get very few Multiple-answer questions. There are 50 questions in the exam and there is some unscored content on the exam as well which will be used for statistical purposes. You have 120 minutes to complete and costs you $125.
Google only tells you whether you failed or passed the exam, it doesn’t provide any score. One can take the exam at a remote location via remote proctoring or an onsite-proctored exam at a testing center. The certification once passed is valid for 3 years.
Please follow the below steps to book an appointment for the certification exam:
- Go to https://www.webassessor.com/googlecloud/
- Use your existing Webassessor account to log in or create a new account and log in.
- Select ‘Register For An Exam.
- Click on ‘Google Cloud Certified — Associate Cloud Engineer(English)’.
- Select how you want to take the exam and follow the prompts.
Initially while registering for the exam, if you are choosing a slot let’s say in the next 2-3 weeks, you would comfortable get a slot of your choice, but once you have a week for your exam and know you assess you would need a week more to be exam ready you can reschedule your exam, just make sure you make this decision well in time to get your preferred slot.
A Day Before Exam
After you have completed the course, the practice exams & the video content, make sure you go through the official exam guide to verify that you have covered all the aspects the exam is going to test you on. While going through the exam guide if you feel you need to revisit a topic, make sure you do that then & there & then proceed further to verify other aspects of the exam guide.
I highly recommend you perform system tests from the same computer and location you will be testing from on exam day. Please follow the below link for further steps:
You must install Sentinel and set up your Biometric Profile before your scheduled exam time. You can install Sentinel by logging into your Webassessor account at www.webassessor.com/googlecloud and referring to the Sentinel info found in My Assessments.
Ensure you have administrative rights on your computer to be able to download the software and proceed further with the prompts.
On exam Day
Before your scheduled slot, make sure you read the remote proctoring exam guide, which lists out what is allowed or not allowed in your surroundings, & what identities are accepted to complete the admission process. This exam guide defines steps to complete the admission process which will be conducted by the remote proctor
The certification will be open 10 minutes before the booked time and please be ready at least 10 minutes so that you will be ready for the booked time after completing the admission process.
- Login: https://www.webassessor.com/googlecloud/
- Click on your exam under ‘My Assessments’
- Click “Launch” proceed through the self-check-in process and wait for a Proctor to connect with you
Tips & Tricks from My Experience
- There are a total of 50 questions and you have 120 minutes — so you have around 2.5 minutes for each question. So take your time to read the question carefully before choosing the answer and also review each question once you completed all questions.
- Read questions properly, sometimes they are tricky and you can often miss some minute details which will be a key point to finding the correct answer.
- If you get stuck on a question, it is better to mark the question for review & then try to get your best shot for the question after attempting all the questions.
- You don’t have to know each service in detail but know about the service such as what they do, what are the features they offer, etc. So that you can eliminate wrong answers in the exam when the question is not clear to you.
- This is an associate-level exam so you don’t have to know the services in depth. Some of the questions you get in the exam are very basic all you need to know is service and what it does.
- Understand different storage options such as Cloud SQL, Cloud spanner, BigTable, Firestore, Filestore, and Bigquery. You don’t have to know in depth for this certification. All you need is how and when to use these options and what they offer.
- If you take the exam from home, then you are video proctored. So strictly follow the Webassessor guide for taking the exam.