Certifications / Cloud

Is the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Worth It?

by Ross Heintzkill
Is the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Worth It? picture: A
Published on June 29, 2022

There is no great accomplishment achieved by any organization that isn't thanks to the combined efforts of many different people. Imagine a football team without an offensive line – even the best quarterbacks can't make a pass if someone isn't standing between them and the 325-pound guy trying to smear him into the ground. Even the President of the United States doesn't actually do very much on their own – they have dozens of layers of experts who make it possible to get anything done.

Companies are the same way, as are their networks. Companies rely on their cloud networks to communicate, produce products, and make profits. But even more, they're relying on the skills and knowledge of cloud network engineers. Those men and women know exactly the right tools and apps to use to turn an organization's goals into reality. And they tend to earn the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer. If you are ready to start learning how to use GCP technology, check out our Google training!

It's a certification that says you're ready to be the team member who elevates your cloud network with every Google Cloud tool and service. Find out if it's a worthwhile certification for you and your career by reading on.

What is the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer?

The Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer is a mid-career certification that's maintained by Google to validate an IT professional's familiarity with maintaining cloud networks – specifically with Google Cloud tools, resources, and services.

Google maintains the certification and awards it to networking professionals who demonstrate advanced competency with their tools so that companies know who can be trusted with the keys to a Google Cloud network. As far as IT certifications go, it’s highly technical, meaning it's focused on actual skills with implementing and using Google Cloud tools and resources for planning, implementing, maintaining, and troubleshooting network operations on a Google cloud network.

Passing the Professional Cloud Network Engineer requires proving a deep technical familiarity with cloud network administration in general and doing so with Google tools specifically. The exam for the certification covers such a wide range of skills and knowledge that few networking professionals earn them all simply from a job. Most certified professional cloud network engineers had to study and round out their experience.

In order to earn the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification, you need to pass just one exam, which Google calls the Professional Cloud Network Engineer exam.

What Does the Professional Cloud Network Engineer Certification Exam Test?

The Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification exam tests you on five different sections:

  • Section 1: Designing, planning, and prototyping a Google Cloud network

  • Section 2: Implementing Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) instances

  • Section 3: Configuring network services

  • Section 4: Implementing hybrid interconnectivity

  • Section 5: Managing, monitoring, and optimizing network operations

There's very little about the exam that's generic – someone who earns the Professional Cloud Network Engineer has shown that they can get their hands dirty with the actual nuts and bolts of planning, implementing, and monitoring a Google Cloud network. For the cost, it's one of the more valuable IT certifications for cloud administrators and engineers.

How much does the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Exam Cost?

It costs $200 to attempt the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification exam, which is a 2-hour long exam with multiple choice and multiple selection answers. Obviously, you don't get your money back if you fail, so you want to make sure you're ready to pass it on your first attempt. You don't have to join any professional organization or pay an application fee – once you pass the exam, you get issued a certification. The certification remains valid for two years after you earn it, and you get a discount on your recertification attempt, so maintaining your Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer only costs about $50/year.

What Experience Do You Need for the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer?

Officially speaking, Google doesn't require any formal experience before you attempt the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification exam. That's not true of all certifications. Some require that you submit proof of a certain amount of time working in a related field before you can even attempt the exam. But Google is only interested in whether or not you know how to manage a cloud network with Google tools. But they do recommend that you have three years of industry experience before attempting the Cloud Network Engineer exam, and at least one year of specifically using Google Cloud network administration tools.

To see the specific topics you should have experience with, we can look at the exam objectives above. For the first section, you'll want to have experience with designing overall network architecture and VPC instances. You should know how to design hybrid and multi-cloud networks as well as how to design an IP addressing plan. VPCs are an important part of the exam, and you should have experience configuring them and their routing before attempting it.

Section three is all about configuring networking services, so you'll need experience with load balancing, Google Armor, CDNs, and DNS as well as configuring Network Address Translation in the cloud and with Google. Few networks live 100% in the cloud, so Google expects you to have experience implementing hybrid interconnectivity – like site-to-site IPsec VPNs and configuring BGP for Cloud Router. Last, you should have experience reading and interpreting the data that come from monitoring network operations.

Who Should Take the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer?

Pretty much any IT professional who works with cloud networks and a Google Cloud network specifically would benefit from earning the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer. Cloud network engineers should definitely take it, as should network administrators considering making the jump to the cloud, as well as junior cloud administrators.

Is Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Worth it for Cloud Network Engineers?

Cloud network engineers should plan to earn the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer, whether or not the network you work on is powered by Google. By learning Google Cloud network tools, you become a much more versatile and useful employee. When questions get asked about upgrading your network or just providing routine maintenance, the Professional Cloud Network Engineer proves both that you know how to maintain the networks and how to do it with Google tools and services.

Is Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Worth it for Network Administrators?

It's slightly less clear if the Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification would be a good fit for any and all traditional network administrators. The best-case scenario for a network administrator would be if you're interested in converting your traditional, on-prem, or data center administration experience into a cloud position. Or if your company is considering making a transition to a hybrid Google network environment, you can secure your job and be ready for the transition if you earn the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer.

On the other hand, if you don't work with Google tools for your daily job and you don't see yourself working outside of an on-prem network environment, the Professional Cloud Network Engineer probably isn't worth it. There are plenty of certifications that would be a better fit in that case.

Is Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Worth it for a Cloud Administrator?

Generally speaking, yes, the Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification is worth it for cloud administrators who want to advance their careers. It is an advanced certification, however, so don't assume you'll breeze throughout it just because you've used a few cloud services here and there. The exam for the Cloud Network Engineer cert is comprehensive, and you'll do best after training or preparation.

But no matter how you get ready for it, most cloud administrators should plan to earn the Professional Cloud Network Engineer eventually. No other certification covers as much knowledge or expertise in using Google Cloud network administration tools. 

Is the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer Worth It?

Yes, the Professional Cloud Network Engineer is worth it for most people who are already working in the cloud, with Google Cloud network services, or who want to eventually do so. If you're trying to land a promotion in a position that's responsible for Google cloud network administration, it's a great way to prove your familiarity with the tools you'll be using every single day. It also shows you understand all the things Google Cloud is capable of that your company's network might not be utilizing yet. If you don't foresee working on a cloud network or ever using Google Cloud tools and services for your network, it's probably not worth trying to earn the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer.

Using Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer to Learn Skills

When it comes to all the skills necessary for managing a cloud network, Google went ahead and made a list of them, ordered them neatly, and then made a certification for it. Unless you're completely and absolutely certain that you know when and how to use every last Google Cloud networking tool, the Professional Cloud Network Engineer certification is a great way to learn all the skills an advanced cloud network engineer should have.

Find an online course that walks you through everything the Cloud Network Engineer exam tests you on – from building and securing networks in Google Cloud to optimizing network performance – and you'll be set with all the tools and knowledge you need.

Using Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer to Validate Skills

There are plenty of cloud administrators and cloud engineers who have spent years dedicated to learning exactly how to get the most out of Google Cloud and its networking tools and services. For those folks, earning the Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer is a perfect way to prove those skills. Earning the certification is essentially like paying Google $200 to assure your employer and future employers that you're a well-rounded expert in Google's cloud networking tools.


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