Kubernetes CKA certification – Where to Start


  • I passed CKA exam on December 2018
  • Prepared for 4 months, before that I had little production experience on kubernetes
  • Must read: Kubernets in Action
  • Must possess: patience, curiosity
  • You cannot pass the exam if you just remember all commands in Kubernetes The Hard Way.
  • To check if you are ready, look through all the Kubernetes.io document. And if you still feel not overwhelmed by the amount of new things, it should be good timing to give it a go.

About exam, first of all this is a tough exam, in terms of both mental and physical. If you have ever taken exam from Linux Foundation, you may know how the exam is proctored. You need to prepare well to sit tight for a few hours without drink. So if you are the one like me, who usually enjoys snacks and drinks while you code, be prepared and train yourself to behave well.

Difficulty of exam itself, it is not the toughest, but they require you to know what they mean. CCIE lab, which is said to be one of the most difficult exam, has the similar base idea in this sense. There seems to be multiple answers to approach given requirement, but if you read carefully there is only one answer which tick all the requirement. So read through all the document even if you have plenty experience in production.

To familiarise with kubernetes, the most difficult part is to start. When I started studying, I had almost no knowledge about the kubernetes components. So if you have some experience and you know where to start by yourself, you have already cleared the highest wall. if you are starting fresh, I recommend you to start reading “Kubernetes in Action”.

There is no short cut, but there is a guide. One of frequently asked questions are “If I remember all the items in Kubernetes The Hard Way(hereinafter KTHW), can I pass the exam?”. The answer is no. Kubernetes The Hard Way, is no doubt one of the most valuable hands-on information source. You can find the exam topic here at “Open Source Curriculum for CNCF Certification Courses“.

  1. 5% – Scheduling
  2. 5% – Logging/Monitoring
  3. 8% – Application Lifecycle Management
  4. 11% – Cluster
  5. 12% – Security
  6. 7% – Storage
  7. 10% – Troubleshooting
  8. 19% – Core Concepts
  9. 11% – Networking
  10. 12% – Installation, Configuration & Validation

You would learn part of 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of exam topics above in KTHW. It concentrates more on cluster administration, and not much container management is covered.

So how I recommend complete newbie to start CKA journey? It’s basically as follows:

  1. Use kubernetes, and get to know what you can do with it. You can use full managed kubernetes — e.g. GCP-GKE, AWS-EKS
  2. Create your own kubernetes cluster and get to know how each k8s component interact, you can use helper — e.g. kubeadm to provision cluster
  3. Create your own kubernetes cluster in hard way, and get to know how you deploy each component. Here, you use KTHW to create your own from scratch.

For this reason, I recommend reading “Kubernetes In Action”. It features kubernetes operation in Part 2 Core concepts, and from Part 3 Beyond the basics, it explains each kubernetes component in depth. Once you complete this book, continue to KTHW.

Once you feel comfortable how each component works, go through kubernetes.io. I took numbers of courses from Linux Academy, Udemy as well as other books, but none of them explains all of the features. One of the reason is the speed of development, and new features are introduced in every major release. In CKA exam, you should expect unexpected. You need to be prepared for that.

That’s all for my advise. I wish you have a great journey towards CKA !