Conquering the GCP: From Start to Finish
The Google Cloud Platform Professional Data Engineer Certification (henceforth referred to as GCP) is a test that assesses your familiarity with the platform’s suite of technology, from BigTable for data storage, to Dataflow for data processing. In the general sense, knowledge of data science to make informed decisions is essential for success, because most of the questions additionally seek a diagnosis for common business intelligence scenarios.
This certification was my first task at Congero Technology. Yet, as a new graduate in computer science, none of this initially made sense to me. The GCP is quite analytical and, unfortunately, my college courses only taught me to speak in algorithms. But if there is one thing I am experienced in, it is taking tests. I know that study material alone is insufficient, and not all are created equal. As such, I hope that my journey provides a streamlined direction for those aiming to obtain this certification by outlining which resources held the most value and which were not as helpful. Thus began my journey to conquer the GCP.
I started with a Udemy course titled “Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer: Get Certified 2022”. But those without a Udemy subscription need not worry – this part was by far the least impactful in my preparation. However, the course has a practice test that is roughly 80% accurate in complexity to the real exam, which has helped me gauge the difficulty and, especially, the wordiness of the questions. On the other hand, the videos were dense, and slogging through them all would just result in eight hours wasted. I recommend watching a targeted few regarding concepts that need clarification or those that are high yield, meaning guaranteed to appear on multiple questions in the exam, such as those related to BigQuery, BigTable, Dataflow, Dataproc, etc.
Speaking of high-yield materials, Google’s documentation (i.e. https://cloud.google.com/bigquery/docs/introduction) was the most useful in establishing a solid foundation for those entirely new to the GCP. Reading documentation may sound as enjoyable as watching grass grow, but the page’s sectioned layout with embedded videos and figures allowed for ease of navigation and identifying essential information. This is important, especially in a time constraint, since knowing which concepts to prioritize studying will greatly boost scores in a short amount of time, which can be encouraging to see tangible achievement.
For those who are less willing to brave the wall of text or are just looking for more short-form content, I have found the channel “Google Cloud Tech” on YouTube to host multiple valuable videos if I need a succinct refresher. The videos range from beginner (i.e. What is BigQuery?) to advanced (i.e. Run Spark and Hadoop faster with Dataproc) familiarity with the GCP. Additionally, some videos provide an example walkthrough of the GCP’s UI to provide a good point of reference. Note that I only recommend this resource to review and supplement, because by itself it is insufficient to provide the depth of knowledge needed for the GCP.
Surprisingly, one aspect of preparation that I missed out on but would like to do if I were to retake the exam was using the GCP itself. Trying to wrap my head around how each product worked while trying to devise a business solution was no easy feat. I used the full two hours allotted for the test and it left me mentally drained for hours afterwards. To save the trouble of self-handicapping, familiarity with the technology suite is a must. Do as I say, not as I do!
After familiarizing with the GCP, the next step is to find a study guide (I used https://dzlab.github.io/certification/2021/12/04/gcp-data-engineer-prep/). The importance of study guides, even if not self-made, is to be mindful of the breadth of content covered in the exam and provide a checklist to ensure no concept escapes review. Additionally, good study guides contain links to documentation or videos to its relevant topic to quickly recall or even further explore a topic. However, study guides are meant to be just that – guides. They do not substitute actual studying and researching to obtain the necessary depth of information needed for the exam.
Armed with all the knowledge needed for the test, there is but one final step: practice tests. After all, how else could you gauge your readiness and test your mettle? For the GCP, I recommend two or three practice tests. Ideally, this final stage of preparation happens the week before the exam date, spreading out the practice attempts in that period. When reviewing, rather than marking only the wrong answers, also mark those that were uncertain or guesses, even if they ended up being correct. While luck inevitably plays a role in the outcome, it is best to be certain of as many concepts as possible, but only if time permits.
Ultimately, the exam is tough because it is long and the questions complex. But it is not impossible. With good preparation and practice, achieving the certification proves the ability to utilize Google’s suite to diagnose data-related problems and provide business insights on the cloud.
Ready to certify? Book an online test date at https://webassessor.com/googlecloud