Preparing for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) exam and how it compares to CKA

In my previous blog post, I included some of the resources that I found useful in preparing for CKA exam (see “Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) CNCF exam preparation resources that I found useful”). What’s great is that the same resources are applicable when studying for the 2nd Kubernetes exam from Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNFC) called Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD).

One additional course specifically aimed at preparation for the CKAD exam is the Kubernetes for Developers (LFD259) by CNFC and The Linux Foundation. I personally found the content of this course very similar to what is already covered in the Kubernetes Fundamentals (LFS258).

In the table below, I have summarized some of the differences between the two certifications. Also, see this comment from Ross Kukulinski from Heptio about differences between the two exams.

Side-by-side comparison of CKA and CKAD exams

CKA — Certified Kubernetes Administrator

CNFC Info page: CKA info

Exam length: 3 hours

Minimum score required to pass: 74%

Certification description: “The purpose of the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) program is to provide assurance that CKAs have the skills, knowledge, and competency to perform the responsibilities of Kubernetes administrators. It is an online, proctored, performance-based test that requires solving multiple issues from a command line.”

Exam curriculum

  • 8% — Application Lifecycle Management
  • 12% — Installation, Configuration & Validation
  • 19% — Core Concepts
  • 11% — Networking
  • 5% — Scheduling
  • 12% — Security
  • 11% — Cluster Maintenance
  • 5% — Logging / Monitoring
  • 7% — Storage
  • 10% — Troubleshooting

CNFC prep course (paid): Kubernetes Fundamentals (LFS258)

CKAD — Certified Kubernetes Application Developer

CNFC information pages: CKAD info

Exam lenght: 2 hours

Minimum score required to pass: 66%

Certification description: “Certifies that users can design, build, configure, and expose cloud native applications for Kubernetes. A Certified Kubernetes Application Developer can define application resources and use core primitives to build, monitor, and troubleshoot scalable applications and tools in Kubernetes. The exam assumes knowledge of, but does not test for, container runtimes and a microservice architecture.”

Exam curriculum:

  • 13% — Core Concepts
  • 18% — Configuration
  • 10% — Multi-Container Pods
  • 18% — Observability
  • 20% — Pod Design
  • 13% — Services & Networking
  • 8% — State Persistence

CNFC prep course (paid): Kubernetes for Developers (LFD259)

Time management is very important during both exams. In particular, because CKAD exam is only 2 hours, its is even more important to be careful and to pace yourself on the questions so as not get stuck on one for too long. The exam environment (i.e. ssh session) runs in Google Chrome with a specific extension and can be laggy and slow at times. In addition, I noticed myself spending way too much time trying to select text (e.g. unique pod names, folder names, etc.) and running into various “UI difficulties”.

Good luck learning Kubernetes, practicing designing and deploying your apps on k8s, and doing awesome on the CKAD exam!

Please leave questions below or on Twitter

Originally published at on July 5, 2018.

Principal Engineer / Architect, FastTrack for Azure at Microsoft

Principal Engineer / Architect, FastTrack for Azure at Microsoft