Getting Kubernetes Certified: The (mostly) Free Way

Yitaek Hwang
4 min readMay 28, 2020

Open Source Guide to Passing the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) Exam

What is CKA & Why Get Certified?

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam is an online exam developed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). There are currently two Kubernetes certifications available: CKA and CKAD (Certified Kubernetes Application Developer). While there is some overlap between the two tests, as the name suggests, CKA focuses more on cluster administrative tasks such as cluster maintenance and security as opposed to pod design on CKAD.

Unlike many cloud certification exams that are primarily multiple-choice, the CKA exam asks the candidates to debug, solve, and accomplish certain Kubernetes tasks on remote clusters in three hours. The CKA environment consists of six Kubernetes clusters with varying number of pods, namespaces, and various related plugins (e.g. networking).

CNCF also holds a Kubernetes Certified Service Provider (KCSP) program to officially certify Kubernetes Providers if a company employs at least three CKAs. Personally, I had no work-related reason to take the CKA, but since I have been working with Kubernetes for over three years at Leverege, I wanted to validate my knowledge with all the newfound free time during this quarantine.

Open Source Study Guide

The following guide provides (mostly) free materials to help prepare for the exam. If you prefer to follow a guided lesson plan and learn more about underlying Kubernetes components, there’s an excellent course with practice exams on Udemy. This open-source study guide assumes that you have a basic understanding of Docker, Kubernetes, and kubectl to interact with clusters.

Read the Official Curriculum

The first thing you should do is to read through the official CNCF curriculum for the exam. The curriculum breaks down all the topics tested on the exam, but more importantly, it tells you what pages to bookmark on the official Kubernetes website (CKA exam allows you to have a tab open to reference any page on the Kubernetes website).

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Yitaek Hwang

Software Engineer at NYDIG writing about cloud, DevOps/SRE, and crypto topics: https://yitaekhwang.com