Inside the Google Apps certification program
Google has come a long way — a very long way — from its early days as an up-and-coming search engine provider. Through acquisitions and internal projects, Google's portfolio of products and services has increased substantially since Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded the company in 1998.
One offering which has emerged from Google's robust product lab is Google Apps for Business. This business solutions package consists of private deployments of popular Google technologies such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and the video conference app Hangouts. Google Apps for Business is marketed as a competitively-priced alternative to traditional Microsoft Office deployments.
While several businesses have adopted Google Apps for Business, very few of these businesses (or their in-house IT departments) are aware that Google has created a certification program around this offering.
The Google Apps Certification Program is for IT professionals who sell, deploy, administer and support Google Apps for Business packages. (Which, as referenced above, are tailor-made solutions made up of Google technologies such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Hangouts and others.) Let's take a closer look at this program, and how to earn certified status from Google.
Google Apps Certification Program Details
The Google Apps Certification Program is made up of three unique designations, each one based on a specific job role:
Certified Sales Specialist — This certification is aimed at sales professionals who work for Google partner companies. Candidates must pass a single certification exam (see "Certification Exam Details" later in this article for exam info) to earn the Certified Sales Specialist designation. Google recommends that candidates have at least six months' experience selling Google Apps for Business suites to clients, and that they possess a full understanding of the features and benefits of each product in the suite.
Certified Deployment Specialist — This certification is for IT professionals who are responsible for deploying and configuring Google Apps for Business packages, as well as planning and managing migration strategies. The recommended prerequisite for this certification is three-to-six years of IT experience, including a minimum of three unique Google Apps for Business deployments. Candidates must pass the Deployment Specialist Exam to earn this certification.
Certified Administrator — This certification is for IT professionals who manage and maintain a Google Apps domain. Google suggests that candidates have six months' experience managing a Google Apps domain with at least 50 users before challenging the Certified Administrator exam. This exam differs from the others in the program in that it consists of a series of live exercises using the Google Apps Admin console, rather than answering conventional multiple-choice exam questions.
With all of the Google App certifications, successful candidates receive an email with an electronic certificate and logo badge for their personal use.
Sample logo badge for the Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist
Certification Exam Details
Google Apps certification exams are offered to candidates via web-based testing, using the Kryterion testing and web-cam proctoring system. This system uses a combination of software and a particular web cam to provide a controlled home-based testing environment. The Kryterion web cam must be purchased on top of the exam fee, but it can be used for multiple Google Apps exams. Google Apps certification exams can be taken on both Windows-based PCs and Macs.
The Certified Sales Specialist exam consists of 45-to-55 multiple-choice, multiple-answer and matching questions. Candidates have two hours to complete the exam. The Certified Deployment Specialist exam is made up of 60-to-65 questions, and has a 2.5 hour time limit. With both exams, there is no penalty for incorrect answers, and results are provided immediately following completion of the exam.
If English isn't your first language, then the Certified Sales Specialist and Certified Deployment Specialist exams are also available in Latin American Spanish, Japanese, and Portuguese.
The Certified Administrator exam is a different animal entirely. The special Kryterion web cam is not required for this exam, although the computer being used must be equipped with a functional web cam. After registering for the exam, a unique Google Apps domain is created for the candidate, who is notified via e-mail when the domain is ready for use.
After being notified, candidates have three days in which to initiate the Certified Administrator exam, and two hours to complete the exam once it has begun. Within a couple of minutes after submitting the exam domain for grading, a pass/fail grade is shown. The Certified Administrator exam is only available in English at this time.
It's great to see that Google has taken the initiative to provide an industry certification program around its primary business solutions offering. For more information about this program, visit the Google Apps Certification Program website.