Re-certifications on Google Cloud

sathish vj
6 min readJan 11, 2021


My experiences re-certifying on Google Cloud.

Towards the end of 2020, it was time for me to renew three of my Google Cloud certifications — Associate Cloud Engineer, Professional Cloud Architect, and Professional Data Engineer. I managed to pass each of them. My experiences were slightly different a second time around and thought I would put down my experiences.

How much of the topics have changed since the first time you wrote it?

There are a few changes as Google Cloud has also evolved. However, the core still remains the same. It’s unlikely that we will ever see a huge change in the core topics like storage, networking, compute, and security. There will be new products and there will be updates, but they are likely to be smaller deltas. For example, the Associate exam seemed a little tougher than last time, but the subjects were pretty much the same. I did not see much difference in the Professional Architect. The Data Engineer exam had a couple of new products since the last time, like Cloud Composer, Cloud Catalog, and Cloud Fusion. So I had to look that up, but the bulk of the topics were the same as the previous time — BigQuery, Dataproc, Dataflow, Pub/Sub, Dataprep, etc. (It also struck me recently when somebody asked me about it that the case studies have been removed for the Data Engineer. While I was taking the exam, it just didn’t register that that had changed!)

My thoughts: you should expect the renewal exams to be just as tough as the first one you took, but expect it to be easier for you based on familiarity.

Did you have a different strategy this time?

I wanted to complete the re-certification before it expired. Not that it particularly matters in any way, but you get to keep your previous series id on the certificate if you renew before it expires. Having set that personal deadline, I was quite short on time for these renewal exams as I was busy with other projects. Given the time crunch, I decided to wing it — if I passed with whatever working knowledge I had, well and good. If not, I would just prepare a little while and try again. Since there is a 2 week cooling off period if you fail the first attempt, I took the first attempt about 15 to 20 days before the expiry date. Luckily, I passed on the first attempt itself each time.

My thoughts: if you have been working in the area of the certification since the last time you wrote it, you should be able to get through with, primarily, a study of new products.

What did you use to study?

I looked at the exam guide, which had changed a bit since the last time. I read through the docs and did a few Qwiklabs for products/topics that I was less familiar with. I did not do any of the courses as they usually cover only the basics and I was already familiar with that. I glanced through the best practices from a couple of products to jog my memory. I don’t mean this as a plug, but going through my own playlist of Q&As on was very useful. I had to re-orient myself with the format of the multiple choice questions and how to answer them. Even though I knew the subjects, there was value in finding out again how the questions and answer options are worded and how to approach them.

Is re-certification free or paid?

You have to pay for the re-certification exam also. As of now, for each of the exams, I received a 50% off coupon from Google. Google sent me a reminder mail about 60 days in advance saying that my certification was going to expire. Then in another mail about 30 days before certification expiry, I got another mail with the 50% off coupon. I don’t think these offers are going to be there forever, but given that Google is promoting the certifications as of now, you should expect to continue to receive the discounts in the near future.

Do you get swag/perks for re-certification?

Yes, you do. As before, with the certification confirmation mail, you will get the code for the perk store.

My suggestion to the certification team, when it comes to recertifications, would be to make perks optional and paid for extra while reducing exam cost. I don’t see the value in collecting similar swags every two years. (More so for people with multiple certifications since the swags are very similar.) Cut costs otherwise spent on the products and international shipping and reduce the price of the re-certification to a negligible amount. This will allow people to attempt re-certification without a second thought. If they pass, they can be given a coupon to the perk store. If they choose to, they can spend the additional amount and get their swags.

(I started writing this article first and thought it would be useful to expand this section and put it separately so that it gets some independent attention. I’ve put my thoughts in a separate article here:

Is doing a re-certification worth it?

Depends on the requirement on you. As an Authorized Trainer, I have to keep my certifications current. So I had to definitely renew the Professional Architect. The other two I renewed, Associate and Data Engineer, were not necessary but I wanted to.

If you are in an organization providing services or consulting, there might be a requirement on you to continue holding one of the professional certifications. If you are running your own startup or you are established in a company and have no intention of moving out, there’s probably no necessity to renew the certification.

Are you going to renew all your certifications?

I am unlikely to renew all certifications. Some certifications have been very useful for the work I do, some not at all, and some have been nice to have but I could do without immediately. There is also an opportunity cost in writing these exams. Even with the minimal preparation, it still takes mind space, time, and money to write these exams. I think my time is better focused elsewhere. With about six more to renew at some point, that adds up quite a bit. For me, it would be more sensible to avoid it. But of course, if there was a specific reason to do them in the future, I sure would.

My personal view is that in future years the validity of some certifications should be extended. The Data Engineer had some product updates this time, and I was ok renewing it. In the Associate Engineer and Professional Architect, I didn’t see much difference in what I was tested on. Yet it costs me some time because, prior to the exam, given that I’m also spending money on it, I wonder if I know enough and I end up going over the same topics again. I did not appreciate the wasted time. Why would I be spending a bunch of money and time doing this every once in a while?

My recommendation to Google would be to make validity dynamic, if possible. Start off with a 2 year validity. If certain exam topics haven’t changed much, automatically extend it by, say, 6 months (e.g., PCA, ACE). This happens on an ongoing basis with a cut off at 3 or 4 years. If other exams’ topics have changed beyond a certain threshold, then they need to be renewed as per the original date.

Notes from each of my exams

For those appearing for the various certification exams, here is a list of sanitized notes (no direct question, only general topics) about the exam.

Overall notes across all GCP certification exams

Notes from the Professional Cloud Architect exam

Notes from the beta Professional Cloud Developer exam

Notes from the Professional Data Engineer exam

Notes from the Associate Cloud Engineer exam

Notes from the beta Professional Cloud Network Engineer Exam

Notes from the beta Professional Cloud Security Engineer Exam

Notes from the Professional Collaboration Engineer Exam

Notes from the G Suite Exam

Notes from the Professional DevOps Engineer Exam

Taking the online exam

Github Repo

A collection of posts, videos, courses, qwiklabs, and other exam details for all exams:

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Wish you the very best with your GCP certifications. You can reach me at LinkedIn and Twitter. If you can support my work creating videos on my YouTube channel AwesomeGCP, you can do so on Patreon or BuyMeACoffee.



sathish vj

tech architect, tutor, investor | GCP 12x certified | youtube/AwesomeGCP | Google Developer Expert | Go