Subscribe to my YouTube channel that teaches you to apply Google Cloud to your projects and also prepare for the certifications: youtube.com/AwesomeGCP. Check out the playlists I currently have for Associate Cloud Engineer, Professional Architect, Professional Data Engineer, Professional Cloud Developer, Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer, Professional Cloud Network Engineer, and Professional Cloud Security Engineer.
Edit May 1st 2020: There is now an official website for the Google Authorized Trainer: https://sites.google.com/view/gcptrainer/home
Edit Nov 2019: I see that there is a new logo/badge for the authorized trainer.
Edit Dec 2019: There is now an official certificate issued for authorized trainers. Mine is here: https://googlecloudcertified.credential.net/profile/40a1ddc5b98dbac0952e85b616a19c5d74c6e762
I’d been conducting workshops and trainings for many years now. When a training coordinator learnt that I had picked up a few Google Cloud Certifications, he asked me whether I would like to try out to be a Google Cloud Authorized Trainer. I replied, “Huh? What’s that?”
Unfortunately, there’s hardly any information about this online. So here are my notes on the whole process. This process involves people only and therefore potentially subjective decisions and actions. It isn’t as clear cut and objective as the multiple choice certification tests. My intention is not to pass judgement on the process or any people. I’m only putting down notes from my perspective so that you can be better prepared when you attempt to become a GCP trainer.
Quick Links to Official Site
Trainer Evaluation: https://sites.google.com/view/gcptrainer/evaluation
Trainer Onboard: https://sites.google.com/view/gcptrainer/onboard
What criteria do you have to meet before you apply?
You have to be Google Cloud Certified — so far, the Professional Architect or the Professional Data Engineer,o̵r̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵P̵r̵o̵f̵e̵s̵s̵i̵o̵n̵a̵l̵ ̵C̵l̵o̵u̵d̵ ̵D̵e̵v̵e̵l̵o̵p̵e̵r̵. (Edit: to become a trainer even for the Application Development track, apparently you require the Professional Architect certification.)
I have a question here that I do not have an answer to yet. Assume you became an Authorized Trainer based on the Professional Architect. Later you also got the Data Engineer certification. Are you now automatically qualified to also teach Data Engineering? Or do you have to go through the process again for this? I’ll try to find that out later. (I got the answer, and it is this: the authorized trainer selection process is only once. If you become an Authorized Trainer, say, for the Architect track once, and later got certified as a Data Engineer, then you are automatically qualified to teach that also. There is no second evaluation.)
What courses are you allowed to take?
As of now, there is no restriction on what course an Authorized Trainer can take — they can conduct any of the courses irrespective of the certification that they have. So, let us say you have a Professional Architect certification and no others. You can still conduct a course of Networking, Security, DevOps, etc. Of course, it would be definitely preferable that you have the corresponding certification, but it is not mandated.
Note that, this could change in the future.
How do you apply?
Interestingly, you can’t apply to be an Authorized Trainer on your own as an individual. Google ties up with Authorized Training Partners (ATP). (Edit: This doesn’t mean that you have to be employed by that training institute. You can remain independent while you are affiliated with them, like most of us are.) I don’t know the process well, but here is the little I learnt. Google selects ATPs based on their business history in coordinating trainings. So if your firm was just starting out, the chances that you will become an ATP are slimmer than a well established training firm. The ATP itself must have a minimum of two Authorized Trainers associated with them before they are allowed to coordinate trainings.
So, the ATP fills up a form with your name and details on it and submits it to Google. You fill up additional details on the link provided. Google then contacts you via email later for the next steps of the process.
The very first email I got gave me some topics that I had to prepare to present during the evaluation. All the material was on QwikLabs. Three subjects were chosen. You get slide decks (pdf) corresponding to them.
During the evaluation, we could be asked to present any of those topics for about an hour. For me, in one of the evaluations, I primarily presented one and the evaluator wanted to do the other subject also but there wasn’t enough time. However, he did still ask questions from the other module. The questions weren’t necessarily restricted to points in the slides; so you have to know the subject way more.
Where can I find Authorized Training Partners in my region and in my domain?
You can find the full list of training partners here: https://cloud.withgoogle.com/partners/?products=TRAINING_PRODUCT
Then you can filter by your region and also your specialization.
How much does it cost to apply?
There is no money to be paid for applying or for getting the authorization.
How long does it take?
Once the ATP and I had submitted our details, it was a period of silence lasting about a month. I thought things might be stuck, but from what I understand now, it is a process that stretches over time.
That first email asked me to pick a few time slots in the weeks ahead to see if an evaluator was available. These evaluations are typically done on a Friday, which was mentioned in the email. So I replied with the next three Fridays as options. I suppose those dates didn’t work out. I got another mail asking for new dates. The evaluation was scheduled within the new dates. From application to first evaluation, it had already been 7–8 weeks.
Somebody Else’s Evaluation Process
There wasn’t much information on the internet about the process. So I contacted an ATP who knew somebody who’d gone through the evaluation successfully. This person's experience was seemingly very different from mine. So I’m putting this down based on what I remember from the conversation sometime around January, 2019. (Typically, I would have left out somebody else’s experience as it is not my place to say it. However, this other story seemed to contrast significantly with mine and I think it will help people to have a feel for the amount of variance in the process.)
He explained that he had done some GCP training on his own before and had prepared his own material. Instead of using the QwikLabs material, he used his own. He was asked to present the same topic as I was. If I remember correctly, he told me that he hadn’t done much work in the area in the recent past. So for example, when he was asked to show how to do something on the console, he could not figure out where it was because the UI had changed. Additionally, the way he narrated it to me, the whole process sounded super easy. He apparently went through the material, the questions were light, and even though his experience wasn’t very deep in the topic, he sailed through the entire process. (Note that this is what I interpreted it as over the phone. For all you know, he might just have been super modest about it.)
My Presentation Topics and Knowledge
Of the modules that I was assigned, one was related to Networking and the other to Kubernetes. I’d recently written the Networking exam, thought I did badly, and had started preparing with a vengeance going deep into the subject assuming that I was going to flunk the first exam and will have to retake it. But when the results came, I’d passed. Not only that, I thought the Networking Certification was the toughest and people would need help practising, so I’d started preparing a mock test. Suffices to say, I knew GCP Networking fairly well.
On Kubernetes, I had worked on it before and had even made contributions to some projects using Kubernetes. I had also started preparing a little for the Certified Kubernetes Administrator. And of course, I’d passed the GCP certifications. Hence again, safe to say that I knew Kubernetes concepts fairly well, even though I definitely wasn’t an expert yet.
The evaluation was scheduled over Hangouts. Since time was short, I setup two GCP projects beforehand based on the topics that I had been given so that I could do a demo if and when required. As part of my regular teaching/training, I typically do a lot of illustrating on boards, which I wouldn’t have here. Instead, I screen casted my iPad on to the Mac screen and sketched on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. This is definitely not a requirement, but I was more comfortable with that setup than merely droning on and speaking off the slides.
After a couple of minutes of initial pleasantries, I was asked to start on one of the topics – Kubernetes. Now, a quick flash back, I have conducted a Google Cloud Jam for Docker and GKE once. I’d also conducted a Kubernetes 101 session for the Kubernetes community in Bangalore. This was towards the last quarter of 2018 probably. Make note, therefore, that this was not new to me. Yet, I did not get through in this evaluation.
This particular evaluation process itself left me a bit flustered. Now, I want to state this again, this is not a judgement on the interviewer or the process. I’m merely stating my experience from my point of view. Therefore, some bias is to be expected.
The topic itself was straightforward. I’d run through it a few times and even timed it, so that I could complete it in time. However, right off the bat, I was asked questions. The answers were either in other slides later on or were not in these particular set of slides. Usually in trainings that I’ve conducted, this wouldn’t matter as I’d either answer them then and there if it made sense or note down the questions and inform the attendees that I’d answer that question later after having covered some other topics necessary to fully understand it. That approach didn’t work here for me. Initially, I was told something to the tune of, “Assume we are a new team and we know nothing about containers or kubernetes”. But the very next question would be an in-depth question. I definitely stuttered in answering some of those as I couldn’t square that circle on as to at what level I answer the question.
There was also the question of time. These Q&As were definitely taking time. No issues answering the questions and I was glad to do that. Except that we had a hard cut off at about an hour. There were about 50 slides and it was at the back of my mind whether it was a requirement to complete it on time, and if not, would that be held against me?
Let me answer that right now: in the end I realized that wasn’t an issue. I did not complete all the slides. In the 2nd evaluation, the evaluator asked me to skip slides as they weren’t important enough for a discussion. Neither did we finish all the slides.
Back to the interview again and the timing. At that point though, it was a concern in my mind about completion. And I did consciously and, possibly, subconsciously speed up.
Of the questions that were asked, I was able to clearly answer some and I did not know the answer to some. One of them was straightforward, 101 question but I just blanked out on a convincing answer, which honestly was embarrassing. It’s the kind of thing one knows but then struggles for a clear definition and then ends up bumbling for words.
At the end of the allotted time, the interviewer was kind enough to give me feedback, which was very helpful. The interviewer in the next round did not give me any feedback. So, there is no fixed approach or defined process to this. These are the main points in the feedback that I got and you’d do well to learn from these:
- my facilitating skills: about 9/10. Thank you. (The problem with being given a good score is that I don’t know what advice to give you based on that.)
- my Kubernetes skills: about 6/10. I think that was fair for what I’d displayed. I was probably better than that in general, but on this day, under the circumstances, I wouldn’t have fought that evaluation. I needed to know more kubernetes – sure, I was already on the task preparing for CKA. He also gave me some views on how much Kubernetes is going to be used within GCP. Wasn’t surprised by this either because as a Developer Expert on Google Cloud, we are given some insights into this on other channels.
- speak at a slower pace. Yes, we Indians generally speak fast. Having lived abroad for many years, this is something I’ve learnt to work on and adjust. In fact when conducting trainings in, say a place like London, my pace drops, the examples and analogies I use change, and I even use the local pronunciations for words so as to make it easier for the audience.
The evaluator was also kind enough to inform me directly that I did not make it in this round but he did encourage me to try again.
One thing that surprised me about the evaluation was that my facilitation skills were rated high, but I did not pass. When I read the web page for this program, I interpreted the content somewhat like this: the primary purpose of the evaluation is checking facilitation skills and not your tech skills as those were already validated via the certification. My discussion with the other person who qualified gave me the same impression. My personal experience, however, was that this is not true at all. In-depth technical knowledge on the topic is necessary.
Evaluation 1 Follow-Up
At this point, I wasn’t very sure if and when I would try for the authorized trainer again. The upcoming months were looking very busy for me with a bunch of travel and other assignments. I thought maybe I’ll apply again after a few months. A couple of days later, however, I got a mail from the Google coordinator asking for dates for the 2nd evaluation. I don’t think this is really a process that they reach back to you for a 2nd round. I’d not heard about this before and I’d suggest you don’t expect it. In this mail she mentioned that there might be available dates within the next few weeks, and I thought, sure, why not? I was preparing for CKA anyways and also had done additional work on networking. The second evaluation was scheduled in the last week of March.
The evaluator asked me to start on either of two topics. I thought I was comfortable with both, but we picked one to start with. This time, I did apply the feedback from the last time and made it a point to speak at a slower pace. I did not worry about finishing the slides either. The evaluator told me at the beginning that he wanted to cover both modules. His approach was to make me skip the slides with less relevant content and to spend time on slides with more in-depth content. Personally, I liked this approach. The discussions were always at a consistent level and hence, from my point of view, it flowed more smoothly than the first evaluation. The questions and discussions were also deeper – think all chapters in the book Kubernetes in Action. Obviously, in the given time we couldn’t have covered all topics in detail but it did touch upon a few. Did I get all questions right? I definitely doubt it but I don’t think I did bad either.
Around the 50 minute mark, I was asked to stop on Kubernetes. There wasn’t enough time to also cover the full Networking module. Instead, he asked me a couple of questions about Networking on GCP.
I asked a couple of questions and clarifications on the Authorized Trainer process in the few extra minutes we hung on. Unlike the first evaluation, I did not receive any feedback. I thought that was a loss though, because I did benefit from feedback on the first one.
(Not Yet an) Epilogue
I do not know the result of the second evaluation. If I compared it to the other person’s experience, I should have probably got through the very first time itself. But very honestly, I appreciate tough processes and tight filtering in such contexts. I lose some, I win some. But the system is better for allowing in only the best. If I failed this one and had to try again later to ensure high quality, so be it.
A Timeline of Events
The only anxious part of this whole process is figuring out whether anything is happening or when things are expected to happen. There are no fixed timelines, and you are definitely going to witness a different schedule. Yet, seeing my timeline might give you some calm.
12th Jan: An ATP applies for me. I get a mail with the next steps.
14th Jan: Step 1: I fill in my details and submit.
14th Jan: Step 2 is completing the certification, which I’m already done with. I receive a mail confirming this.
14th Jan: Step 3a. I receive a mail with the modules to prepare on. In step 3b, I will be assigned an interview/er.
11th Feb: I receive a mail asking for available dates on which I can attend the evaluation. I give three dates — Feb 15th, Feb 22nd, March 1st.
26th Feb: I receive another mail asking me to choose a date the following week. An interview is scheduled for March 5th.
5th March: Step 3c. Interview happens. I don’t pass.
8th March: I get a mail requesting dates for a second interview. I give a range of dates. An interview is scheduled for 29th March.
29th March: Step 3c again. 2nd interview happens. Results awaited.
Maybe in the future sometime: Step 4. Pass the evaluation and you are now a Google Cloud Platform authorized trainer.
Edit 4th April: I̶’̶m̶ ̶t̶o̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶A̶T̶P̶ ̶c̶o̶o̶r̶d̶i̶n̶a̶t̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶h̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶f̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶m̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶e̶n̶d̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶u̶l̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶e̶v̶a̶l̶u̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶.̶ ̶A̶n̶d̶ ̶h̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶d̶a̶t̶e̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶u̶n̶i̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶.̶ ̶S̶o̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶b̶a̶b̶l̶y̶ ̶i̶n̶f̶o̶r̶m̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶A̶T̶P̶ ̶a̶f̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶v̶i̶e̶w̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶.̶ (So this did not prove to be true. The approval mail is sent directly to you. The ATP sending a mail has no effect on the process but they have work to do after you pass.)
Edit 22nd April: I’m a GCP Authorized Trainer! 🎉
What After you are Certified as a Google Authorized Trainer?
̶I̶ ̶o̶b̶v̶i̶o̶u̶s̶l̶y̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶f̶i̶r̶s̶t̶-̶h̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶k̶n̶o̶w̶l̶e̶d̶g̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶i̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶q̶u̶a̶l̶i̶f̶i̶e̶d̶ ̶y̶e̶t̶.̶ ̶I̶ ̶s̶h̶a̶l̶l̶,̶ ̶h̶o̶w̶e̶v̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶p̶u̶t̶ ̶d̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶f̶e̶w̶ ̶p̶o̶i̶n̶t̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶i̶o̶u̶s̶ ̶a̶b̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶a̶b̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶I̶ ̶e̶n̶q̶u̶i̶r̶e̶d̶.̶ I know a little better about some of this now.
- In addition to passing the evaluations, you also will need to conduct training for a module alongside another authorized trainer before you are allowed to do it independently. (Though this is in the process, this wasn’t asked of me. But I expect that as the number of trainers increase, this will eventually become mandatory.)
- After you qualify, if there are GCP trainings required, you would be contacted via the ATP and you can choose whether to do it or not.
- You can be associated with multiple ATPs.
- You do not need to be an employee of an ATP. You can remain independent.
- There is no fixed amount that you are given — you can choose to charge any amount you want. However, the ATP and the client also has the option to choose who they go with.
- Material and labs are provided by Google via QwikLabs.
- When you have to do trainings, the ATP can allocate the labs via a UI provided.
- The ATP will have to pay for the material and the labs.
- Only the ATP (or Google) can coordinate and setup the trainings. As an authorized trainer you can only conduct trainings but you cannot coordinate/set it up.
- You have to remain continuously updated with the material, take follow-on courses, and complete the related labs to maintain your authorized trainer status.
- ̶T̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶r̶e̶n̶t̶l̶y̶ ̶n̶o̶ ̶c̶e̶r̶t̶i̶f̶i̶c̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶s̶h̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶p̶u̶b̶l̶i̶c̶l̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶u̶t̶h̶o̶r̶i̶z̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶r̶a̶i̶n̶e̶r̶.̶ ̶H̶o̶w̶e̶v̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶v̶i̶a̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶n̶a̶l̶ ̶s̶y̶s̶t̶e̶m̶s̶ ̶b̶o̶t̶h̶ ̶G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶A̶T̶P̶ ̶k̶n̶o̶w̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶q̶u̶a̶l̶i̶f̶i̶e̶d̶.̶ This is available now.
- There is one free trainer t-shirt that you will get a voucher for.
Re-certification and the Authorized Trainer
I asked a few questions to the team regarding certification expiry, re-certification, and its linkage to the Authorized Trainer status. Below is that Q&A. I’ve made edits for clarity.
Is there a connection between the certification continuity and the authorized trainer status?
- Yes. To teach the courses, you are required to keep the certificate valid. But even if the certification expires, the trainer account will stay active. So, you can’t conduct a training with an expired certificate, but you can immediately start conducting trainings again as soon as you certify without going through a re-authorization process.
Is the Trainer status automatically removed if the certification expires?
- No. The trainer won’t be removed from the system.
Is the certification connected to the Series ID of the certificate?
- Yes. Also, our system is tracking the current status.
If the person re-certifies after it expires, will they need to go through the interview process again?
- No. Active trainers don’t need to go through the steps again regardless of the certificate expiration.
What happens if the re-certification is done before it expires?
- Nothing happens and the trainer status will be still valid.
My notes on all my certifications — https://medium.com/@sathishvj/on-passing-all-google-cloud-certifications-54b2cc1e428c
Authorized Trainer Website: https://sites.google.com/view/gcptrainer/home
Training Partners: https://cloud.withgoogle.com/partners/?products=TRAINING_PRODUCT
Wish you the very best with your GCP certifications and qualifying for the Authorized Trainer. You can reach out to me at LinkedIn and Twitter, especially for training for the certifications, short term consulting on GCP, and anything related to GoLang.