Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification learning path

Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification learning path

Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer certification exam is basically for one who works day-in day-out with the Google Cloud Services. It targets an Cloud Engineer who deploys applications, monitors operations, and manages enterprise solutions. The exam makes sure it covers gamut of services and concepts. Although, the exam is not that tough and time available of 2 hours a quite plenty, if you well prepared.

Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification Summary

  • Has 50 questions to be answered in 2 hours.
  • Covers wide range of Google Cloud services and what they actually do. It focuses heavily on IAM, Compute, Storage with a little bit of Network but hardly any data services.
  • Hands-on is a must. Covers Cloud SDK, CLI commands and Console operations that you would use for day-to-day work. If you have not worked on GCP before make sure you do lot of labs else you would be absolute clueless for some of the questions and commands
  • Once again be sure that NO Online Course or Practice tests is going to cover all. I did ACloud Guru – LA course which covered maybe 60-70%, but hands-on or practical knowledge is MUST

Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification Topics

General Services

  • Cloud Billing
    • understand how Cloud Billing works. Monthly vs Threshold and which has priority
    • Budgets can be set to alert for projects
    • how to change a billing account for a project and what roles you need. Hint – Project Owner and Billing Administrator for the billing account
    • Cloud Billing can be exported to BigQuery and Cloud Storage
  • Resource Manager
    • Understand Resource Manager the hierarchy Organization -> Folders -> Projects -> Resources
    • IAM Policy inheritance is transitive and resources inherit the policies of all of their parent resources.
    • Effective policy for a resource is the union of the policy set on that resource and the policies inherited from higher up in the hierarchy.
  • Cloud SDK
    • understand gcloud commands esp. when dealing with
      • configurations i.e. gcloud config
        • activate profiles – gcloud config configurations activate
        • GKE setting default cluster i.e. gcloud config set container/cluster CLUSTER_NAME
        • set project gcloud config set project mygcp-demo
        • set region gcloud config set compute/region us-west1
        • set zone gcloud config set compute/zone us-west1-a
      • Get project list and ids gcloud projects list
      • Auth i.e gcloud auth
        • Auth login using user gcloud auth login
        • Auth login using service accountgcloud auth activate-service-account --key-file=sa_key.json
      • deployment manager i.e. gcloud deployment-manager
      • VPC firewalls i.e. gcloud compute firewall-rules

Network Services

  • Virtual Private Cloud
    • Understand Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), subnets and host applications within them Hint VPC spans across region
    • Understand how Firewall rules works and how they are configured. Hint – Focus on Network Tags. Also, there are 2 implicit firewall rules – default ingress deny and default egress allow
    • Understand VPC Peering and Shared VPC
    • Understand the concept internal and external IPs and difference between static and ephemeral IPs
    • Primary IP range of an existing subnet can be expanded by modifying its subnet mask, setting the prefix length to a smaller number.
  • Cloud Load Balancing

Identity Services

  • Identity and Access Management – IAM 
    • Identify and Access Management – IAM provides administrators the ability to manage cloud resources centrally by controlling who can take what action on specific resources.
    • Understand how IAM works and how rules apply esp. the hierarchy from Organization -> Folder -> Project -> Resources
    • Understand the difference between Primitive, Pre-defined and Custom roles and their use cases
    • IAM Policy inheritance is transitive and resources inherit the policies of all of their parent resources.
    • Effective policy for a resource is the union of the policy set on that resource and the policies inherited from higher up in the hierarchy.
    • Basically  Permissions -> Roles -> (IAM Policy) -> Members
    • Need to know and understand the roles for the following services atleast
      • Cloud Storage – Admin vs Creator vs Viewer
      • Compute Engine – Admin vs Instance Admin
      • Spanner – Viewer vs Database User
      • BigQuery – User vs JobUser
    • Know how to copy roles to different projects or organization. Hint – gcloud iam roles copy
    • Know how to use service accounts with applications
  • Cloud Identity
    • Cloud Identity provides IDaaS (Identify as a Service) and provides single sign-on functionality and federation with external identity provides like Active Directory.

Compute Services

  • Make sure you know all the compute services Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine and Google Kubernetes Engine, they are heavily covered in the exam.
  • Google Compute Engine
    • Google Compute Engine is the best IaaS option for compute and provides fine grained control
    • Know how to create a Compute Engine instance, connect to it using Cloud shell or ssh keys
    • Difference between backups and images and how to create instances from the same.
    • Instance templates with managed instance groups. Instance template cannot be edited, create a new one and attach.
    • Difference between managed vs unmanaged instance groups and auto-healing feature
    • Preemptible VMs and their use cases. HINT – can be terminated any time and supports max 24 hours.
    • Upgrade an instance without downtime using Live Migration
    • Managing access using OS Login or project and instance metadata
    • Prevent accidental deletion using deletion protection flag
    • In case of any issues or errors, how to debug the same
  • Google App Engine
    • Google App Engine is mainly the best option for PaaS with platforms supported and features provided.
    • Deploy an application with App Engine and understand how versioning and rolling deployments can be done
    • Understand how to keep auto scaling and traffic splitting and migration.
    • Know App Engine is a regional resource and understand the steps to migrate or deploy application to different region and project.
    • Know the difference between App Engine Flexible vs Standard
  • Google Kubernetes Engine
    • Google Container Engine is now officially Google Kubernetes Engine and the questions refer to the same
    • Google Kubernetes Engine, powered by the open source container scheduler Kubernetes, enables you to run containers on Google Cloud Platform.
    • Kubernetes Engine takes care of provisioning and maintaining the underlying virtual machine cluster, scaling your application, and operational logistics such as logging, monitoring, and cluster health management.
    • Be sure to Create a Kubernetes Cluster and configure it to host an application
    • Understand how to make the cluster auto repairable and upgradable. Hint – Node auto-upgrades and auto-repairing feature
    • Very important to understand where to use gcloud commands (to create a cluster) and kubectl commands (manage the cluster components)
    • Very important to understand how to increase cluster size and enable autoscaling for the cluster
    • know how to manage secrets like database passwords

Storage Services

  • Understand each storage service options and their use cases.
  • Cloud Storage
    • Cloud Storage is cost-effective object storage for unstructured data.
    • very important to know the different storage classes and their use cases esp. Regional and Multi-Regional (frequent access), Nearline (monthly access) and Coldline (yearly access)
    • Understand life cycle management. HINT – Changes are in accordance to object creation date
    • Understand Signed URL to give temporary access and the users do not need to be GCP users
    • Understand access control and permissions – IAM vs ACLs (fine grained control)
    • Understand best practices esp. uploading and downloading the data. HINT using parallel composite uploads
  • Relational Databases
    • Cloud SQL
      • Cloud SQL is a fully-managed service that provides MySQL, PostgreSQL and MS SQL Server
      • limited to 10TB 64TB and is a regional service.
      • Difference between Failover and Read replicas. Failover provides High Availability and almost zero downtime while Read replicas provide scalability. Cross region Read Replicas are supported
      • Perform Point-In-Time recovery. Hint – requires binary logging and backups
    • Cloud Spanner
      • is a fully managed, mission-critical relational database service.
      • provides a scalable online transaction processing (OLTP) database with high availability and strong consistency at global scale.
      • globally distributed and can scale and handle more than 10TB.
      • not a direct replacement and would need migration
    • There are no direct options for Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle yet.
  • Data Warehousing
    • BigQuery
      • provides scalable, fully managed enterprise data warehouse (EDW) with SQL and fast ad-hoc queries.
      • Remember it is most suitable for historical analysis.
      • know how to perform a preview or dry run. Hint – price is determined by bytes read not bytes returned.
      • supports federated tables or external tables that can support Cloud Storage, BigTable, Google Drive and Cloud SQL.

Data Services

  • Although there were only a couple of reference of big data services in the exam, it is important to know (DO NOT DEEP DIVE) the Big Data stack (esp. IoT gateway, Pub/Sub, Bigtable vs BigQuery) to understand which service fits the different layers of ingest, store, process, analytics, use
    • Cloud Storage as the medium to store data as data lake
    • Cloud Pub/Sub as the messaging service to capture real time data esp. IoT
    • Cloud Pub/Sub is designed to provide reliable, many-to-many, asynchronous messaging between applications esp. real time IoT data capture
    • Cloud Dataflow to process, transform, transfer data and the key service to integrate store and analytics.
    • Cloud BigQuery for storage and analytics. Remember BigQuery provides the same cost-effective option for storage as Cloud Storage
    • Cloud Dataprep to clean and prepare data. Hint – It can be used anomaly detection.
    • Cloud Dataproc to handle existing Hadoop/Spark jobs. Hint – Use it to replace existing hadoop infra.
    • Cloud Datalab is an interactive tool for exploration, transformation, analysis and visualization of your data on Google Cloud Platform


  • Google Cloud Monitoring or Stackdriver
    • provides everything from monitoring, alert, error reporting, metrics, diagnostics, debugging, trace.
    • remember audits are mainly checking Stackdriver

DevOps services

  • Deployment Manager 
  • Google Marketplace (Cloud Launcher)
    • provides a way to launch common software packages e.g. Jenkins or WordPress and stacks on Google Compute Engine with just a few clicks like a prepackaged solution.
    • It can help minimize deployment time and can be used without any knowledge about the product

Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification Resources

27 thoughts on “Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification learning path

  1. Hi Jayendra,

    Thanks for posting these details. They are pretty informative. With no experience in any sort of cloud, is it a right choice to go for GCP Associate Cloud exam as compare to any of AWS certification exam ? How to practice commands on Google Cloud and is it free to experiment Compute Engine/App Engine/BQ etc with account ?

    Looks like this course is not free any more 🙁
    “A Cloud Guru course – Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer, available FREE for limited time.”

    Thanks for your guidance.

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Deepak, you can get google course 1 month free on Coursera can try those. You would get hands on with that. Also, get your free account on GCP and check for google events, they usually give credits and monthly free subscription for Qwiklabs.

  2. Thanks for the details. i am new to cloud and currently learning, using different online videos and applying them on my GCP free tier.
    But it takes more than that to fill in the exam, and your blog gave me the ideas where all to work on , thanks for the braincert too 🙂

  3. Hi Jayendra,
    I am a fresher and working as Associate Analyst in a company but it’s not a purely technical job.I want to switch to Google cloud in 1 year.I will be preparing for Google cloud for 1 year and simultaneously doing my job.
    Will a company hire me with 1 year of analyst experience and a Google cloud certification as cloud engineer?
    How much time will be required to study Google cloud if I simultaneously do my job?

    Thanks and Regards,

    1. Google Certification can be achieved in 3 months with dedicated preparation of couple of hours, I feel.
      Certification does not guarantee a job, but it surely gives you an edge over the other candidates.

  4. Today I passed Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer. It’s definitely not a easy one. Test covers all the sections of GCP. After writing it felt like there’s more to practice and test.

    Posting here cause I had read your post and had it as a bookmark and refer if I had missed anything to study.

    1. How much to me it takes to prepare. I started now since company wants to clear by Dec end. I booked for d c 31st.

  5. Is any prior experience required to get job as cloud engineer,if yes what kind of experience?
    Also do they take freshers as cloud engineer?
    I have done BCA.

    1. Prior experience is not needed for clearing exam, but it would surely need a lot of hands-on to prepare for the exam.
      Frankly its tough as fresher, but knowing things will surely set you apart from others.

  6. No I am saying that to get a job as cloud engineer is any previous experience required, because I am a fresher and have done BCA

    1. Previous experience is not needed for appearing for exam, but then you need to do lots of hands-on for GCP exams.

        1. Use Quiklabs which have quite a lot of labs, you can check coursera and the free credits on GCP.

  7. Hey Jaye,

    Did you take the Google ACE exam by taking the Braincerts exercise?
    Did braincerts really worth it?

    Thanks for answer.

    1. It helps you prepare and go through the documentation in detail. But surely, same as others, use it to compliment your preparation.

  8. I took the Google Associate Cloud Architect and Professional Cloud Engineer exam last month. Here’s my story about learning Google ACE exam, check out the resources on Google’s certification page, focus on the skills from the Exam guide and follow this four passing strategies .
    1. Read and practice Braincert Associate Cloud Engineer Exam questions before attempting real ACE exam.
    2. Identify your knowledge gaps
    3. Make a custom learning plan
    3. Track Progress with Color Coding
    because I didn’t properly know how Google’s courses and lab resources were organized or what was available and recommended by Google so I saw one that is really good to know the real Associate Cloud Engineer exam pattern.
    This Associate Cloud Engineer practice tests have real and Updated ACE exam questions. It added knowledge to the “what if” and covers some information to ACE exams.

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    We’re leading online education providers in the UK and selling our courses globally. I would like to express a genuine desire to form a formal relationship with you and advertise our courses through your organization. 
    So, I will really appreciate it if I can have a chat with you to get a better idea of what else we can respectively offer each other.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you soon regarding this new venture and a very lucrative relationship for us both. Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions or concerns.

    Best Wishes,
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    Business Development Manager  

    1. Hi Shah Zahidur, glad to discuss this further. Please reach out to me through the Contact link and we can take it further.

  10. Thanks for these quick refresher notes Jayendra. Very helpful.I truly appreciate the efforts taken by you to share your knowledge.

  11. Howdy!! *Great* resource!! I’ve spent hours reading through it and its associated links. Thanks so much for putting all this material together!!

    One thing I noticed though – in the Cloud SQL section, it says Cloud SQL has a maximum size of 10TB. That appears to be outdated. The associated link for Cloud SQL includes a test prep question that assumes a 20TB database and Cloud SQL is the correct answer. So I looked it uo and apparently its max size increased, first to 30TB and now to 64TB. You may want to update that bit.

    But again, GREAT resource and thanks!!

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