I’m a certified Associate Cloud Engineer!

    

By: Jason Alvarez,
Follow me on twitter @0xBanana


A debrief of my experience studying for & taking the GCP Associate Cloud Engineer exam.

It’s official everyone!

I passed the Google Cloud Platform Associate Cloud Engineer exam!

I’m proud to have gotten this certification and I wanted to share with you what the test is like, my thoughts on my experience, and what my methods and tools were that helped me achieve success and pass on my first attempt.

About the exam.

Exam format: - Multiple choice and multiple select, taken in person at a test center. Length: 2 hours Registration fee: $125 + taxes ≈ $137, There is also a discount for those from countries with lower purchasing power parity. Recommended experience: - 6 months+ hands-on experience with GCP.

My experience and thoughts

The test and studying was a fantastic primer into the world of managed services and cloud technology. The core concepts needed to succeed in “the cloud” are (more or less) the same as traditional/enterprise security. Technical concepts like, subnetting, CIDR ranges, least privilege principle, and others are things I learned throughout my career and without a decent understanding the learning curve is going to be steep.

I can honestly say even with all the preparation I did the day of the exam I still felt nervous; I guess that means it was important to me. You can take the exam in person, or digitally. I opted for a in person exam because the next virtual exam was weeks away and I didn’t want to wait that long.

Due to the pandemic we’re still facing in the United States I didn’t expect there to be so many people taking exams! I was walked into a room with cubicles and workstations, there were many other people in the room taking various other exams, and I was pleased with the health and safety precautions that were taken by the testing center.

I finished the exam in ~45 minutes and when I was done I felt confident in my answers, but not necessarily that they were correct. I expected a grade once I clicked “submit exam” but the next window was a feedback form, which honestly, how can I give you feedback, I’m anxious about the score!?! I was presented with the 4 characters that lifted so much weight off my shoulders, PASS. There was no indication of my score, what I got wrong, what I got right, just a pass or fail grade; the result also isn’t “official” for 7-10 days while Google performs their validation. Minutes later an exam proctor walked me out and sent me on my way.

Two days later I received an email saying my exam score was accepted and I received a digital certificate. I was also added to the Google Cloud certificate holder website which was a nice added surprise!

Jason Schorr - Google Cloud Credential Holders

What I used

LinuxAcademy was a huge contributor to my exam success. The videos total 14 hours with 7 hands on labs to get practical experience. At the end of the course there is a Practice Exam which I made sure to get to the point where I was getting 100% consistently, its not enough to know the right answer, but to also understand why. I didn’t use the labs provided with LinuxAcademy, but hands on practice is critical to success; I had lab access through another service, Qwiklabs.

Course: Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Security Engineer | Linux Academy

Google offers practice exams for their certs and I highly recommend going through it until you’re getting 100% - the wrong answers are highlighted and the correct answer is supplied along with the reasoning behind them.

Practice exam offered by Google

Earlier this year Google was offering free Qwiklabs training for anyone who signed up via their links. It cost me nothing, was extremely quick to get through, and allotted me 3 months of unlimited training. This hands on training allowed for operational experience that was instrumental to exam success. There are questions of the exam where your operational command line knowledge is tested.

Qwiklabs provides real cloud environments that help developers and IT professionals learn cloud platforms

Although the Google offer for 3 months of lab time has ended, keep an eye on the medium article below, Sathish VJ updates it often with some codes for free months; also his training material is also top notch!

Watch this for updates to get for qwiklabs credits

Graces flowcharts is a fantastic resource for really understanding the situations you would want to use a specific service for. Do you understand the difference between BigTable, BigQuery, Spanner? Do you know when you should use a SSL Proxy vs HTTPS load balancer? I didn’t and these flowcharts helped me make sense of what to use and when.

Grace’s flowcharts

Finally we have a collection of study notes. I don’t know who compiled them but they’re verbose and cover everything you’ll need to know for the exam. I didn’t find these notes until a few days leading up to my exam so they were really good as a quick reference and having links to the official G docs. I wouldn’t use this doc on its own but its a great thing to have as an adjunct to your studies.

Associate Cloud Engineer - Study Notes - Google Docs

Now what?

Now I start preparing for the next certification I want to get and that’s the GCP: Professional Cloud Security Engineer. Based on my skillset and experience I think its the most logical step with the least amount of new material to learn. Diving deeper into the nuts and bolts of GCP is exciting and I’m looking forward to gaining a more complete understanding of the tools and options available to us.

Hey reader!

Do you have any questions on my experience? Did I cover everything? What do YOU want to know?


Enjoyed the post? Let me know! 💛🦄🔖

Subscribe to the cloud.weekly newsletter!

I write a weekly-ish newsletter on cloud, devops, and privacy called cloud.weekly!
It features the latest news, guides & tutorials and new open source projects. You can sign up via email below.