Kubernetes Certification Path – 2022

Kubernetes is at the core of the cloud-native movement

Kubernetes Certification Path – 2022
Image by Ihor Dvoretskyi

Kubernetes is an exciting container orchestration technology to run distributed systems resiliently.  

Kubernetes is world’s most popular container orchestration tool. It is an open source distributed system for managing containerized workloads and services that supports declarative configuration and automation.

Google originally designed Kubernetes, but CNCF now maintains the project with support, oversight and direction from The Linux Foundation.

Kubernetes provides container agnostic tools to build, scale, deploy and secure applications more efficiently than Virtual Machines can do to isolate each container from other processes running on the same host.

You can easily manage the containers and ensure that there is zero downtime by transferring the loads from one node to another with relative ease.

Your applications continue to work as expected, even when a container goes down. It takes care of fail-over and scaling for your applications, plus provides deployment patterns, and more.

With the astronomical growth and popularity of containers, microservices and cloud computing, Kubernetes has become the standard for running containerized applications in the cloud. Almost every major cloud provider is offering managed Kubernetes services.

Kubernetes is a complex system, and it is worth becoming a skilled practitioner to open doors to a new cloud career path.

In this article of Kubernetes Certification Path, let’s look at how the leading companies are eager to find skilled Kubernetes developers, administrators, and security specialists.

According to Glassdoor, and PayScale, the salaries for Kubernetes experts are starting at well over $100,000 while ZipRecruiter indicates that the average salary for Kubernetes-related job roles is more than $147,000.

Given that the demand is growing for Kubernetes knowledge and skills, getting certified makes sense, especially because recruiters know that Kubernetes certification entails a significant learning curve.

This article focus mainly on Kubernetes certifications paths.


Kubernetes Certification Path – 2022

There are three Kubernetes certifications under The Linux Foundation banner. A fourth, an associate level certification KCNA — Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Associate for absolute beginners.

The three established certificates are:


1. Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)

Kubernetes Application Developer program aims to certify that an engineer can design, build, configure, and expose cloud-native applications for Kubernetes.

This credential helps organizations identify and develop talent with critical skills for building, deploying, and configuring cloud native applications with Kubernetes.

Certified Kubernetes Application Developer program doesn’t involve developing anything and is designed for testing individuals' ability to deploy a microservices-based application.

This certification path focuses primarily on building and managing applications and is suitable for beginners, developers, deployment specialists and DevOps Engineers.

Earning Certified Kubernetes Application Developer—CKAD validates practitioners' ability to apply Cloud Native application concepts and architectures.


Format: Online Proctored Exam (Exam Simulator)

Length: 2 hours

Passing score: 66% (Performance-Based Exam)

Fee: $375 (One Retake)

Duration: Certification Valid 3 Years

Certified Kubernetes Application Developer
Image by The Linux Foundation

There are no pre-requisites for learning. Before taking this CKAD Exam, we recommend:

  • Exposure to Cloud computing
  • Working knowledge of Kubernetes Command-line tool–Kubectl
  • Understanding of Application containerization, including OS-level virtualization methodologies
  • Working knowledge of container runtimes and microservice architecture
  • Ability to work with (OCI-compliant) container images
  • Ability to create/migrate, configure, expose and observe scalable applications
  • Ability to work with and validating resource definitions
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Prepare for Kubernetes Application Developer (Study Guide)

2. Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)

Kubernetes Administrator program aims to certify individuals who can perform administrator responsibilities, including the installation, configuration, and management of Kubernetes clusters.

This credential helps organizations identify and develop talent with indispensable skills for managing networking, security, storage, services, etc. from an administrative perspective.

The online exam is proctored, comprising a set of performance-based problems you’ll need to iron out on the command line.

You’ll need to know some topics covered in the CKAD program, but Kubernetes Administrator Certification’s primary focus is testing individuals' competence in building and managing the Kubernetes cluster.

Earning Certified Kubernetes Administrator – CKA validates practitioner's ability to accomplish tasks related to scheduling, logging and monitoring, application lifecycle management, cluster maintenance, security, storage, troubleshooting, networking, installation and configuration, and validation.


Format: Online Proctored Exam (Exam Simulator)

Length: 2 hours

Passing score: 66% (Performance-Based Exam)

Fee: $375 (One Retake)

Duration: Certification Valid 3 Years

Certified Kubernetes Administrator
Image by The Linux Foundation

To gain Kuberneters Administrator certification, you’ll need to show your competence, knowledge and skills in Kubernetes administration in a command-line environment. Before taking CKA Exam, we recommend:

  • Excellent working knowledge of Kubernetes Command-line tool – Kubectl
  • Ability to perform basic installations as well as configuring and managing production-grade Kubernetes clusters
  • Ability to build a cluster from scratch
  • Ability to establish basic use-cases for end users
  • Understanding of Kubernetes networking, storage, security, maintenance, logging and monitoring, application lifecycle, troubleshooting, API object primitives, etc.
  • Knowledge of container runtimes and microservice architecture
  • Working knowledge automating tasks using tools like kubeadm
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3. Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)

Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) program aims to certify the competences required to secure containerized applications and Kubernetes platforms during the build, deployment, and runtime.

This credential helps companies identify and develop talent with indispensable skills and competence for cluster setup and hardening, system hardening, minimizing microservice vulnerabilities, and supply chain security.

The online exam is proctored, comprising a set of performance-based problems to test your skills, knowledge and competence about Kubernetes and cloud security in a simulated, real-world environment.

Security is an elite profession and it will only grow more important in the years to come. If you’re interested in Kubernetes, CKS is a great certification to demonstrate your knowledge of security.

Earning Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist – CKS validates the practitioner's ability to employ best practices for securing containerized applications and Kubernetes platforms during build and deployment, including monitoring, logging, and runtime security.


Format: Online Proctored Exam (Exam Simulator)

Length: 2 hours

Passing score: 66% (Performance-Based Exam)

Fee: $375 (One Retake)

Duration: Certification Valid 2 Years

Kubernetes Security Specialist
Image by The Linux Foundation

Kubernetes Security Specialist certification is valid for only two years rather than the CKA and CKAD’s three-year duration. It is an advanced-level certification that requires CKA certification to sit for the exam. Before taking CKA Exam, we recommend:

  • Keeping up with the latest security recommendations
  • Working knowledge of Kubernetes security services including features of services to provide a secure production environment
  • Understanding of Kubernetes security operations and risks
  • Ability to secure container-based applications and Kubernetes platforms during build, deployment and runtime
  • Understanding of Kubernetes networking, storage, security, maintenance, logging and monitoring, application lifecycle, troubleshooting, API object primitives, etc
  • Ability to make critical decisions with regard to cluster hardening, system hardening, securing supply chain, etc
  • Setup appropriate OS level security domains, using PSP, OPA, and security contexts
  • Ability to detect threats within physical infrastructure, apps, networks, data, users and workloads
  • Skills to perform thorough investigation and identification of bad actors within the environment
  • Working knowledge of scanning images for known (and common) vulnerabilities
  • Ensure persistence of containers at runtime
  • Use Audit Logs to monitor access

Closing Notes

Cloud-Native experts such as those with Kubernetes certifications are in increasingly high demand. This demand is fiercer than ever, and certifications present a clear pathway for professionals.

Since the Kubernetes certification space is advancing, it is well worth the time, effort and money that would go into earning it.

The certification exams are difficult but practice is key to passing the exam. The Linux Foundation bundles the certification with up-to-date exam preparation courses.

The Linux Foundation is a better option for learning Kubernetes, as the training content is modified with every new release of Kubernetes.

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