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If you are currently in the data field, or you are considering going into it, you will have probably heard about certifications. Today, I will give you my personal experience obtaining the SnowPro Core Certification and some tips that could apply to you as well.

What are Certifications

It is very nice that you know how to use a program, or know how to code in a language, but putting it in your CV may not be enough to prove it in job application. Here is where Certifications come in.

Certifications are like titles or diplomas that act as proof that you have obtained a certain level of knowledge in a subject. Usually, you will have to pay to be able to get a chance at an exam that you will have to pass. Basically, it works the same as for the language certifications like ILR or CEFR but for tech stuff.

SnowPro Core Certification

In my case, I have had to obtain the SnowPro Core Certification for my recent job as an Analytics Engineer Consultant at Nimbus Intelligence. This has been the first time that I had to study, study in the sense of memorizing stuff instead of learning by projects, for something tech related.

Overall, the experience has been pretty similar to my previous experiences with this kind of certifications (driving licence, language exams…). You have to get acquainted with a set of subject or topics that are considered the knowledge necessary to get that certification.

We wary, though. You cannot study this as most school exams where you pass with a 50%. In all certification exams I had to get more than that. For my driver’s licence it was a 90%, and for the SnowproCore Certification it is a 75%.


The SnowPro Core Certification has a detailed guide with all the topics that you must cover and links to trainings, videos and documentation pages that explain all that you need to know (on the pdf that you can get if you register only). Pretty handy right? The Domain topics for this exam are:

  1. Domain 1.0: Snowflake Data Cloud Features and Architecture (20-25%)
  2. Domain 2.0: Account Access and Security (20-25%)
  3. Domain 3.0: Performance Concepts (10-15%)
  4. Domain 4.0: Data Loading and Unloading (5-10%)
  5. Domain 5.0: Data Transformation (20-25%)
  6. Domain 6.0: Data Protection and Data Sharing (5-10%)

As you can see, they even provide you with the weight that each domain will have in the exam so you know where to put extra effort. Note, however, that all domains will appear in the exam, which by the way is 100 questions. So, even if you only get aroun 10% of questions of Data Protection and Data Sharing, it will be 10 questions. Therefore, it is really not worth to just skip studying a domain trusting that you will get all questions from other domains right (because you won’t).

SnowPro Core Certification study tips

First of all, get a trial-account for 30 days. This will allow you to actually log into your account and try out all the theoretical stuff that you will be learning in a more practical way. Also, it will allow you to follow along the Hand-On labs and Quickstarts that Snowflake recommends for studying.

Get to know the topic

Now, let’s simulate that I am starting the topic 2.2 Define the entities and roles that are used in Snowflake. A good idea is to initially go into the Hands-On lab that they recommend for this topic. This labs are meant to provide you with the general context on what we are doing, and how you would actually apply the theory that you are going to learn.

Once you have done that, and you have a (very) basic idea on what the topic is about, you can start reading the introductory documentation of that topic for more details.

And finally, go into the actual SQL commands that apply to that topic. In this case, everything about roles, users and grants. Make sure to take notes on the things that seem important to you, look at the options of each command, notice the syntax…

OK! Now you have a solid foundation on what this topic is about. Next, do this for all the topics!

Yes, it may seem boring and long, but it is an exam, what were you expecting? Of course you will have to dedicate time and effort to pass.

Once you have gone through everything, skim through the topic list. Are you able to explain (at least generally) what each topic talks about? Do you recognize all word and objects that appear there? If yes, you are ready for the next step!

Start testing

Once you have actually studied all the topics, the only thing to do is to start checking how much you really know.

There are dozens of options on the internet, both free and paid, that provide Snowflake sample tests. In our case, we used a Udemy course together with some extra free tests that we found looking around the internet.

Now this is the most important part: Once you have done the exam and you get the results, review the questions one by one and note-down all topics that you didn’t know or that you feel that you could fail questions on that topic. If you have done a test with lots of questions, you will have lots of notes and topics to look into. That is OK. Once you finish the review start going into each topic deeply. Look at the documentation, make sure you understand every option and nuance that there is and even remember the defaults and numeric values that they provide.

This may take you hours for every mock exam you try, sure, but, at least for me, it is the best way to truly see weak topics and focus on them. You will see that just after a couple exams your knowledge on Snowflake will solidify significantly.

Take the test

Once you are confident enough, don’t overthink it! Just book the exam for the next or the following day.

The days before the exam make sure to get a final review on those tricky facts that are easy to mess up. Some example:

  • Which one stores information about dropped objects ACCOUNT_USAGE or INFORMATION_SCHEMA? (ACCOUNT_USAGE)
  • What is the maximum size that a VARIANT data type can store in a record? (16 MB)
  • What is the default auto suspend time for a virtual warehouse? (10 min)
  • What is the only ANSI SQL constraint that Snowflake enforces? (the NOT NULL restriction)

As you can see, there are facts or information pieces that you simply have to know. Make sure you know them.

And finally, for the day of the exam (and maybe also the previous day if you are already well prepared) just make sure that you rest properly, and that your are calm and relaxed for the exam. It is a long and, generally, a boring exam to take, so make sure you don’t feel sleepy and are able to concentrate for a long period of time.

If everything goes right, when you finish the exam you will see a screen where it shows that you passed. After that, you will get an email detailing how to get your certification and you will be able to go celebrate!

If you are not lucky on that day, don’t worry! You will get an email showing you the score that you got and a link where you will be able to see the topics where you missed some questions.

Don’t be discouraged, it is a hard exam. Just make sure that really focus on those weak topics that you found during the exam and try again in a week or two!

If you want to know about other data related topics or want to check out the experience of some of my colleagues with the exam, make sure to check out the rest of the Nimbus Intelligence Blogs.