Training / Certification Paths

Is the Google Professional Data Engineer Worth It?

by Team Nuggets
Is the Google Professional Data Engineer Worth It? picture: A
Published on April 20, 2022

More and more companies are making the decision to invest heavily in big data, but many of them are faced with a problem when they try to get started: no one really knows what it means, exactly, to invest heavily in big data. Big data is a topic that's easy to talk about, and even easier to get excited about. But the problem that many organizations are running into is that no one is sure how to turn the crazy success stories they've heard about at other places into reality for themselves.

As the provider of some of the most powerful, secure versatile big data processing tools, utilities and applications, a lot of the burden for explaining them fell on Google. So they developed the Google Professional Data Engineer certification to help make sure that organizations and companies could hire someone intimately familiar with all the ways big data could help, and (more importantly) how to make them happen. 

In other words, the Google Professional Data Engineer certification exists so that an executive or manager can say, "We need big data!" and you can reply, "You mean we should start with an Extract-Transform-Load pipeline to bring together all our data sources to the same warehouse."

What is the Google Professional Data Engineer?

The Google Professional Data Engineer is an IT industry certification provided and maintained by Google. The Google Professional Data Engineer is an advanced certification that's awarded to IT professionals who demonstrate that they have a general understanding of data processing and analysis topics but also specific familiarity with the tools and utilities that Google Cloud has.

For companies and organizations considering getting into the world of big data, having someone on staff who has their Google Professional Data Engineer is basically a safety line. Once you've earned it, you're trained and equipped to make the right calls about data processing, storage, analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence utilities from Google. 

It's not an easy certification because earning it means you don't just understand what all of Google's cloud-based data processing and analysis tools and utilities do, it means you know how to incorporate them into plans, deploy them on your networks, and manage their operations after they're up and running.

Simply put, the Google Professional Data Engineer certification is an advanced, one-stop-shop for proving mastery of Google's data utilities and applications. Earning it requires passing the one Google Professional Data Engineer exam.

What are the Google Professional Data Engineer Exam Objectives?

There's only one exam for the Google Professional Data Engineer. You'll have two hours to take it and reportedly it has around 60 questions. Those multiple choice or multiple response questions fall into four sections:

  • Section 1: Designing data processing systems

  • Section 2: Building and operationalizing data processing systems

  • Section 3: Operationalizing machine learning models

  • Section 4: Ensuring solution quality

Hopefully, it's obvious from the names of the Google Professional Data Engineer's exam objectives that the exam is a practical examination of your ability to inventory, plan, operationalize and maintain all of the tools and utilities for data processing and analysis in the cloud. The Google Professional Data Engineer exam isn't purely about answering questions, it's also about demonstrating your comfort with actually using and implementing the tools.

How much does the Google Professional Data Engineer Exam Cost?

It'll cost you $200 USD to attempt the 2-hour Google Professional Data Engineer exam. You can take the exam in-person or proctored online at any time that's convenient for you. Unlike certifications from professional organizations, you don't need a membership or application to attempt the exam. 

Although you might want to include the cost of preparation or training into the cost of earning it, as long as you can pass the exam on your first attempt, it'll only cost $200 to earn the Google Professional Data Engineer.

What Experience Do You Need for the Google Professional Data Engineer?

As far as formal prerequisites go, Google doesn't require any experience before you attempt the Google Professional Data Engineer exam. There are no other certifications you have to earn beforehand and you don't have to take any particular courses or training before Google will let you try. But that doesn't really mean you can earn the Google Professional Data Engineer without any experience. Google recommends three years of industry experience and a full year of specifically designing and managing Google-based cloud data processing solutions.

There's a lot to know when it comes to GCP data solutions, and earning the Google Professional Data Engineer isn't just about being able to identify each GCP tool by name. Part of the exam covers designing data processing systems by selecting the right storage, pipeline, and processing solutions from Google. A successful candidate would already have had some experience with building and operationalizing storage, pipelines, and processing infrastructures for data processing. 

Machine Learning, broadly, is about half of the Google Professional Data Engineer exam, so you'll want experience leveraging pre-built machine learning models, deploying ML pipelines, and maintaining machine learning models after deployment. Last, the certification also validates that you've had experience with the process of ensuring the quality of the solutions you choose and deploy.

Who Should Take the Google Professional Data Engineer?

Cloud and network administrators, data and systems analysts and data engineers should earn the Google Professional Data Engineer. It doesn't matter if you already use Google tools and utilities or not – if your job deals with any part of big data processing or analysis in the cloud, you should plan on earning the Google Professional Data Engineer certification.

Is Google Professional Data Engineer Worth It for Cloud Administrators?

Whether or not the Google Professional Data Engineer is worth it for you as a cloud administrator will come down to what sort of responsibilities you hold. It's not a good certification for cloud administrators who only do a few, specific administration tasks. 

The Google Professional Data Engineer is worth it for cloud administrators who are constantly expected to be jacks of all trades, familiar with the many options Google Cloud has for data, and are called on to implement data processing solutions.

Is Google Professional Data Engineer Worth It for Data Analysts?

Yes, the Google Professional Data Engineer is worth it for many data analysts. Especially more experienced data analysts who are interested in expanding their familiarity with big data and machine learning fundamentals into a more advanced knowledge of actual data engineering.

If you're solely responsible for intaking formatted data and turning it into a single product, the time and energy it'll take you to learn how to create and manage cloud resources or instantiate serverless data processing might not be worth it. 

However, if you're at a point in your career where you'd like to be able to give advice and make decisions about how your company invests in cloud solutions, earning the Google Professional Data Engineer is worth it. Data analysts who want to be able to perform ML/AI tasks in the cloud while evaluating data processing system designs should seriously consider earning it.

Is Google Professional Data Engineer Worth It for a Data Engineer?

Yes, definitely yes. The Google Professional Data Engineer is overwhelmingly worth it for a data engineer. At basically any point in your career as a data engineer you would be well-served to seriously consider the cert. Newcomers to the career field can be prepared to compare and contrast their company's existing ML/AI solutions with what Google offers. And experienced veterans can perfect their skills in planning, implementing and optimizing data processing applications and machine learning algorithms that operate on them.

Even the most experienced data engineers will benefit from learning the name and function of all of Google's data processing, analysis, storage, machine learning and AI tools.

Is the Google Professional Data Engineer Worth It?

The Google Professional Data Engineer is a well-respected certification and at only $200 USD, it's worth it for most people who work with machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data and data pipelines or warehouses. For IT professionals who are looking to develop deep and specific knowledge about one specific implementation of one of those technologies, it might not be worth it. But for basically all others – anyone who needs to speak knowledgeably about all the data analysis and processing tools Google has, it’s worth it.

Using Google Professional Data Engineer to Learn Skills

One of the best things about a certification like the Google Professional Data Engineer is that it's essentially a catalog of all the tools, utilities and applications that a data engineer could plausibly run into throughout their career. So if you prepare for passing the Google Professional Data Engineer exam, you're learning every last part of how to take an organization's current data analysis and processing capabilities and plan, deploy, maintain and optimize them to an end state that could be a hundred-fold improvement.

Using the Google Professional Data Engineer to learn the skills a data engineer should have is a solid investment, especially considering the certification exam only costs $200.

Using Google Professional Data Engineer to Validate Skills

If you've read this far and you're convinced you already know everything there is that the Google Professional Data Engineer could test you on, you might start to think earning it would waste your time. Maybe you watched the videos and read the blogs about each Google tool and you use them all every day anyway. 

If that applies to you, the Google Professional Data Engineer is still worth earning – because then you can prove definitively to your employer that you know everything they need. They don't have to take your word for it – Google will have your back.


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