Why I’m No Longer AdWords Certified

I used to be an AdWords Certified Professional or AdWords Qualified Individual or whatever it's called.  I took the test three times and passed easily.  But I won't be taking it again.

The first reason was one of timing.  I last took the test in 2009, and it was supposed to be good for two years.  Then in 2010, Google announced that they were completely overhauling the testing procedure, and everyone had to take it again.  (They even provided vouchers to cover the cost)  But I didn't have time to mess with that; I had three clients doing major site overhauls in the last half of 2010, and when I took my last test, it was supposed to be good for two years.  No reason at all Google couldn't just say the NEXT time we were due for tests, you have to take the new ones and be done with it.  So that reason was just plain stubbornness on my part.

But the second reason is the real reason, and that is that Google provides absolutely no incentive for me to become certified.  They don't send me leads. They don't give me advanced technical support.  They used to give me $100 vouchers for new clients, but now everyone including my cat gets vouchers; I have a pile of them on my desk this minute – as I've said many times,

Google AdWords Vouchers are the AOL CDs of the 2000's

All Google gives me is a logo that I can pin to my website, and the dubious honor of saying I passed a test that (as far as I know – I've not seen the most recent version) is not proctored and can be easily passed by anyone who can open one browser window in the Learning Center and another in which to take the test.

Not being certified certainly hasn't affected my ability to attract clients.  I get inquiries every week, and not one person has ever asked if I had the certification (which is how little it means to the civilians).  I actually get a lot more traction out of five years worth of posts on WebmasterWorld – a much better indication of my PPC knowledge and expertise.

So why should I bother?  I can't see a reason.  Can you?


  1. I just passed my certification for Google AdWords recently. Like so many certifications it seems to be primarily about money, as in revenue for Google.

    I doubt many of our clients will ever know that such a program exists. It does provide a little bit of cover from getting our PPC clients picked off from other agencies.

    • I'm not even sure they make much of a profit off the test – I think the charge is mainly there to try to separate the wheat from the chaff a little bit (I mean, if it were free, there would be all kinds of people taking it and cheating to become "certified".)

      It's a trust symbol, like the Hacker Safe stuff, and if Google actually did more to publicize it themselves, and give it some oomph, it might actually mean something. But they don't. So it doesn't.

  2. Very valid point. Google keeps spamming my inboxes with their "Get $100 to organize your Google AdWords campaigns" over and over again.

  3. Pat Grady says

    the original reason i haven't taken the test:


    then later:


  4. "Watching idiots online since 1985". That says it all about your attitude toward many things.

    • Yep – specially my attitude towards idiots without the balls to sign their names to their comments.

  5. I'm already working with adwords at my company I don't need it for my CV. Just wondering if its worth it? I presume i could just look at the study materials & gain the same knowledge without having to take this exam, especially since it runs out. Thoughts?

    • Depends on how you feel about taking tests. When they're up to date (which they weren't the last time I looked) the study materials and practice tests are probably more useful than taking the actual test. If your employer doesn't require certification, I dunno that I would bother. However, it probably looks okay on a resume, so if you think you might need it in the future, I suppose that would be one reason to do it.

      For practical applications, you're probably better off keeping up with the detailed posts on some of the industry blogs like SearchEngineLand or BlueGlass, or Brad Geddes' excellent Certified Knowledge.

      • Thanks netmeg. I think I will study Adwords online then, & I also meet up with other PPC managers at other businesses so taking tips from them is probably more beneficial than a exam. Cheers

  6. Erin Andrews says

    I just found this article after doing some research and its quite interesting. I'm fairly new to Adwords (3YRS IN) but i was lucky enough for my first official ppc position to be managing 3m+ in spend. Of course I work under a director but now that I'm looking for positions its difficult. Every employer is looking for this certification like the holy grail. When i talk to older professionals they down play it. When I talk to younger professionals my age(29) they rave about it. I feel like my ability to effectively produce a positive roi amongst other things is enough to secure a position. Half the people i know haven't even managed 3K a month in spend. I am adcenter certified, proficient in Kenshoo and Channel advisor and know the offline editors.

  7. All That is now changing with google Engage and googgle Certified Partners
    Check it out!

  8. How can you verify if someone is actually certified by Google or not?

    • Not sure nowadays; used to be you had a profile on Google somewhere that listed you as an AdWords professional, but I think that’s gone now. For a while they changed to something called Google Engage (and they engaged me without my even having to do anything) but now it’s changing to Google Partners (I guess they took the ring back) and that’s the current program. I dunno; I can’t keep up.

  9. The author’s idea is clear. Of doing business and the number of clients the certificate is not affected. Once your reputation

  10. It is my first time here trying to check as much as “practical” opinions about the subject because i have both profetional+academic interest and i think this a “real world” business approach..
    Very happy for reading this..Soon be back for checking other categories too

  11. Even if they are certified, check out some of the certified company reviews, and so called google premier partners, and some of them seem to really suck big time. They seem to not have any care for their customers and their only objective is to extract as much cash out of them as possible


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