Kubernetes, as a runtime and orchestration environment for microservices, is widely-used among start-ups and large enterprises alike. As your organization ramps up on the number of applications, managing the Kubernetes clusters becomes a full-time job. That’s the role of a Kubernetes administrator. The person responsible for this job ensures that the cluster is an operational state, scales up the cluster by onboarding nodes, upgrades the Kubernetes version of the nodes to incorporate patches and new features, and is in charge of a backup strategy for crucial cluster data. To help job seekers and employers have a standard means to demonstrate and evaluate proficiency in developing with a Kubernetes environment, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) developed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) program. To achieve this certification, you need to pass an exam.

There are two other Kubernetes certifications you can find on the CNCF webpage. The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) focuses on the developer-centric application of Kubernetes. The Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) was created to verify the competence on security-based topics and requires a successful pass of the CKA exam before you can register.

In this study guide, I will explore the topics covered in the CKA exam to fully prepare you to pass the certification exam. We’ll look at determining when and how you should apply the core concepts of Kubernetes to manage an application. We’ll also examine the kubectl command-line tool, a mainstay of the Kubernetes engineer. I will also offer tips to help you better prepare for the exam and share my personal experience with getting ready for all aspects of it.

The CKA is different from the typical multiple-choice format of other certifications. It’s completely performance based and requires you to demonstrate deep knowledge of the tasks at hand under immense time pressure. Are you ready to pass the test on the first go?

Who This Book Is For

The primary target group for this book is administrators who want to prepare for the CKA exam. The “exam details and resources” content covers all aspects of the exam curriculum, though basic knowledge of the Kubernetes architecture and its concepts is expected. If you are completely new to Kubernetes, I recommend reading Kubernetes Up & Running by Brendan Burns, Joe Beda, and Kelsey Hightower (O’Reilly) or Kubernetes in Action by Marko Lukša (Manning Publications) first.

What You Will Learn

The content of the book condenses the most important aspects relevant to the CKA exam. Given the plethora of configuration options available in Kubernetes, it’s almost impossible to cover all use cases and scenarios without duplicating the official documentation. Test takers are encouraged to reference the Kubernetes documentation as the go-to compendium for broader exposure.

The outline of the book follows the CKA curriculum to a tee. While there might be a more natural, didactical structure for learning Kubernetes in general, the curriculum outline will help test takers with preparing for the exam by focusing on specific topics. As a result, you will find yourself cross-referencing other chapters of the book depending on your existing knowledge level.

Be aware that this book only covers the concepts relevant to the CKA exam. Certain primitives that you may expect to be covered by the certification curriculum—for example, the API primitive Ingress—are not discussed. Refer to the Kubernetes documentation or other books if you want to dive deeper.

Practical experience with Kubernetes is key to passing the exam. Each chapter contains a section named “Sample Exercises” with practice questions. Solutions to those questions can be found in Appendix A.

Conventions Used in This Book

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:


Indicates new terms, URLs, email addresses, filenames, and file extensions.

Constant width

Used for program listings, as well as within paragraphs to refer to program elements such as variable or function names, databases, data types, environment variables, statements, and keywords.

Constant width bold

Shows commands or other text that should be typed literally by the user.

Constant width italic

Shows text that should be replaced with user-supplied values or by values determined by context.


This element signifies a tip or suggestion.


This element signifies a general note.


This element indicates a warning or caution.

Using Code Examples

The source code for all examples and exercises in this book is available on GitHub. The repository is distributed under the Apache License 2.0. The code is free to use in commercial and open source projects. If you encounter an issue in the source code or if you have a question, open an issue in the GitHub issue tracker. I’ll be happy to have a conversation and fix any issues that might arise.

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Every book project is a long journey and would not be possible without the help of the editorial staff and technical reviewers. I would also like to thank the editors at O’Reilly Media, John Devins and Michele Cronin, for their continued support and encouragement.

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