Top Kubernetes Certifications for 2024

Top Kubernetes Certifications for 2024

Are you looking for the best Kubernetes certificate? In this guide, I describe the best Kubernetes certificate along with other free options so you can choose the best one for you.

Kubernetes is growing in popularity every day. A survey by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) found that 96% of respondents reported using or evaluating Kubernetes.

The number of engineers certified in Kubernetes is also growing rapidly. A report by Kube Careers shows that Kubernetes Certifications are second on the list of popular certifications.

These certifications both test your personal knowledge of Kubernetes and play an important role in drawing your personal career plan. If a company wants to become and maintain Kubernetes Certified Service Providers (KCSP), it has to have 3 CKA certified personnel.

Now you know why it is so important to get certified in Kubernetes. The Linux Foundation has a total of five Kubernetes-focused certifications. I will review each certification and a description of what each certification is best suited for – everything you need to choose the best Kubernetes certification for your needs.

Also, Linux Foundation Certifications under the CNCF are widely accepted and considered by organizations. But sometimes certification is about learning and gaining experience.

As long as you have the goal of learning, you can choose to prepare for certifications that add value to your career. For this reason, I will also cover certifications that are not part of the CNCF but will help you develop your skills related to Kubernetes.

Top Kubernetes Certifications

1. Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)

The first certificate that comes to mind when it comes to Kubernetes certificate is CKA certificate.

CKA certification is a wanted certification when it comes to DevOps Engineer Jobs. Whether you are an experienced IT professional or a recent college graduate, CKA certification will add value to your resume. This is mainly because of the nature of the exam. Also, it is one of the best devops certifications today.

According to the cncf annual report, the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam reached 176,000 registrations in 2023.

Unlike other certifications where the exams include multiple-choice questions, the CKA is a hands-on certification exam where you must solve Kubernetes tasks and resolve cluster issues from the command line. This certification is intended for system administrators and DevOps engineers who deal with day-to-day Kubernetes operations.

The CKA exam focuses on the following areas and competencies according to CNCF.

Storage 10%

  • Understand storage classes, persistent volumes
  • Understand volume mode, access modes and reclaim policies for volumes
  • Understand persistent volume claims primitive
  • Know how to configure applications with persistent storage

Troubleshooting 30%

  • Evaluate cluster and node logging
  • Understand how to monitor applications
  • Manage container stdout & stderr logs
  • Troubleshoot application failure
  • Troubleshoot cluster component failure
  • Troubleshoot networking

Workloads & Scheduling 15%

  • Understand deployments and how to perform rolling update and rollbacks
  • Use ConfigMaps and Secrets to configure applications
  • Know how to scale applications
  • Understand the primitives used to create robust, self-healing, application deployments
  • Understand how resource limits can affect Pod scheduling
  • Awareness of manifest management and common templating tools

Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration 25%

  • Manage role based access control (RBAC)
  • Use Kubeadm to install a basic cluster
  • Manage a highly-available Kubernetes cluster
  • Provision underlying infrastructure to deploy a Kubernetes cluster
  • Perform a version upgrade on a Kubernetes cluster using Kubeadm
  • Implement etcd backup and restore

Services & Networking 20%

  • Understand host networking configuration on the cluster nodes
  • Understand connectivity between Pods
  • Understand ClusterIP, NodePort, LoadBalancer service types and endpoints
  • Know how to use Ingress controllers and Ingress resources
  • Know how to configure and use CoreDNS
  • Choose an appropriate container network interface plugin

CKA Exam Tips and Tricks

  • Examination fee $395
  • Kubernetes 1.29 version is used. Whichever version is available at your time, the exam environment is immediately adapted.
  • It takes 2 hours. If you do not have enough practice, it is difficult to train.
  • The exams consist of 15-20 performance-based tasks.
  • You need to have your passport, new ID and new driver’s license just in case.
  • All questions are practical and there are no theoretical questions.
  • Pass score 74/100
  • You are expected to do all the questions from the command line.
  • You can take the test at any time and place (provided that it is quiet and calm)
  • You can use your own computer.
  • Your webcam and microphone must be working.
  • As you will be asked to share your screen, webcam and microphone during the exam, you are not allowed to look anywhere else but the screen and you are not allowed to talk to anyone.
  • Since you are constantly monitored during the exam, you are likely to be warned instantly
  • You should not have anything other than water to drink at your desk.
  • You have to use a Chromium based browser for the exam.
  • You have the right to open 2 tabs. One is the exam screen and one is the official Kubernetes documentation page.
  • You are asked to install a plugin called Innovative Exams ScreenSharings on Chrome. When you follow the checklists, you have installed it.
  • 24 questions are divided into points according to ease and difficulty (For example, if PV creation is worth 1 point, Bootstrap question is worth 8 points)
  • You should manage your time well.
  • You can return to questions you do not know.
  • The result reaches your e-mail address within 36 hours.

2. Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)

CKAD certification is recommended for all developers and engineers focusing more on cloud native microservice application development and deployment

The CKAD certification focuses more on the application aspects of Kubernetes. If you are a developer or DevOps engineer looking to showcase your ability to deploy applications on Kubernetes with cloud-native best practices, the CKAD certification is for you.

CKAD has been developed by The Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), to help expand the Kubernetes ecosystem through standardized training and certification. This exam is an online, proctored, performance-based test that consists of a set of performance-based tasks (problems) to be solved in a command line.


The CKAD exam focuses on the following areas and competencies according to CNCF.

Application Design and Build 20%

  • Define, build and modify container images
  • Choose and use the right workload resource (Deployment, DaemonSet, CronJob, etc.)
  • Understand multi-container Pod design patterns (e.g. sidecar, init and others)
  • Utilize persistent and ephemeral volumes

Application Deployment 20%

  • Use Kubernetes primitives to implement common deployment strategies (e.g. blue/green or canary)
  • Understand Deployments and how to perform rolling updates
  • Use the Helm package manager to deploy existing packages
  • Kustomize

Application Observability and Maintenance 15%

  • Understand API deprecations
  • Implement probes and health checks
  • Use built-in CLI tools to monitor Kubernetes applications
  • Utilize container logs
  • Debugging in Kubernetes

Application Environment, Configuration and Security 25%

  • Discover and use resources that extend Kubernetes (CRD, Operators)
  • Understand authentication, authorization and admission control
  • Understand requests, limits, quotas
  • Understand ConfigMaps
  • Define resource requirements
  • Create & consume Secrets
  • Understand ServiceAccounts
  • Understand Application Security (SecurityContexts, Capabilities, etc.)

Services and Networking 20%

  • Demonstrate basic understanding of NetworkPolicies
  • Provide and troubleshoot access to applications via services
  • Use Ingress rules to expose applications

3. Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)

The CKS certification focuses more on Kubernetes security. Security plays a key role when it comes to containerized environments. From the creation of a container image to its deployment on kubernetes, security best practices need to be implemented to reduce the attack surface. This certification covers security from the creation of images to deployment. To prepare for this exam, you should learn container security best practices and associate CNCF security tools such as Falco and Trivy.

CKS is a performance-based certification exam that tests candidates’ knowledge of Kubernetes and cloud security in a simulated, real world environment. Candidates must have taken and passed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam prior to attempting the CKS exam. CKS may be purchased but not scheduled until CKA certification has been achieved.
CKA Certification must be active (non-expired) on the date the CKS exam (including Retakes) is scheduled.


The CKS exam focuses on the following areas and competencies according to CNCF.

Cluster Setup 10%

  • Use Network security policies to restrict cluster level access
  • Use CIS benchmark to review the security configuration of Kubernetes components (etcd, kubelet, kubedns, kubeapi)
  • Properly set up Ingress objects with security control
  • Protect node metadata and endpoints
  • Minimize use of, and access to, GUI elements
  • Verify platform binaries before deploying

Cluster Hardening 15%

  • Restrict access to Kubernetes API
  • Use Role Based Access Controls to minimize exposure
  • Exercise caution in using service accounts e.g. disable defaults, minimize permissions on newly created ones
  • Update Kubernetes frequently

System Hardening 15%

  • Minimize host OS footprint (reduce attack surface)
  • Minimize IAM roles
  • Minimize external access to the network
  • Appropriately use kernel hardening tools such as AppArmor, seccomp

Minimize Microservice Vulnerabilities 20%

  • Setup appropriate OS level security domains
  • Manage Kubernetes secrets
  • Use container runtime sandboxes in multi-tenant environments (e.g. gvisor, kata containers)
  • Implement pod to pod encryption by use of mTLS

Supply Chain Security 20%

  • Minimize base image footprint
  • Secure your supply chain: whitelist allowed registries, sign and validate images
  • Use static analysis of user workloads (e.g.Kubernetes resources, Docker files)
  • Scan images for known vulnerabilities

Monitoring, Logging and Runtime Security 20%

  • Perform behavioral analytics of syscall process and file activities at the host and container level to detect malicious activities
  • Detect threats within physical infrastructure, apps, networks, data, users and workloads
  • Detect all phases of attack regardless where it occurs and how it spreads
  • Perform deep analytical investigation and identification of bad actors within environment
  • Ensure immutability of containers at runtime
  • Use Audit Logs to monitor access

4. Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA)

KCNA is recommended for students, IT managers and engineers who need a basic knowledge of the cloud-native ecosystem. The KCNA exam focuses on Kubernetes and related tools in the cloud-native environment. This exam is easier than CKA, CKAD and CKS. It is a multiple-choice exam with 60 questions and a 90-minute exam time.

A certified KCNA will confirm conceptual knowledge of the entire cloud native ecosystem, particularly focusing on Kubernetes. The KCNA exam is intended to prepare candidates to work with cloud native technologies and pursue further CNCF credentials, including CKA, CKAD, and CKS.


The KCNA exam focuses on the following areas and competencies according to CNCF.

Kubernetes Fundamentals 46%

  • Kubernetes Resources
  • Kubernetes Architecture
  • Kubernetes API
  • Containers
  • Scheduling

Container Orchestration 22%

  • Container Orchestration Fundamentals
  • Runtime
  • Security
  • Networking
  • Service Mesh
  • Storage

Cloud Native Architecture 16%

  • Autoscaling
  • Serverless
  • Community and Governance
  • Roles and Personas
  • Open Standards

Cloud Native Observability 8%

  • Telemetry & Observability
  • Prometheus
  • Cost Management

Cloud Native Application Delivery 8%

  • Application Delivery Fundamentals
  • GitOps
  • CI/CD

5. Kubernetes and Cloud Native Security Associate (KCSA)

The KCSA Certification is a relatively new certification that focuses on the basic security configuration of Kubernetes clusters.

If you have a security background, this is the first certification to get started in a Kubernetes environment. It helps you better understand Kubernetes security, compliance, and assess security risks and vulnerabilities.

A certified KCSA will confirm an understanding of the baseline security configuration of Kubernetes clusters to meet compliance objectives.


The KCSA exam focuses on the following areas and competencies according to CNCF.

Overview of Cloud Native Security 14%

  • The 4Cs of Cloud Native Security
  • Cloud Provider and Infrastructure Security
  • Controls and Frameworks
  • Isolation Techniques
  • Artifact Repository and Image Security
  • Workload and Application Code Security

Kubernetes Cluster Component Security 22%

  • API Server
  • Controller Manager
  • Scheduler
  • Kubelet
  • Container Runtime
  • KubeProxy
  • Pod
  • Etcd
  • Container Networking
  • Client Security
  • Storage

Kubernetes Security Fundamentals 22%

  • Pod Security Standards
  • Pod Security Admissions
  • Authentication
  • Authorization
  • Secrets
  • Isolation and Segmentation
  • Audit Logging
  • Network Policy

Kubernetes Threat Model 16%

  • Kubernetes Trust Boundaries and Data Flow
  • Persistence
  • Denial of Service
  • Malicious Code Execution and Compromised Applications in Containers
  • Attacker on the Network
  • Access to Sensitive Data
  • Privilege Escalation

Platform Security 16%

  • Supply Chain Security
  • Image Repository
  • Observability
  • Service Mesh
  • PKI
  • Connectivity
  • Admission Control

Compliance and Security Frameworks 10%

  • Compliance Frameworks
  • Threat Modelling Frameworks
  • Supply Chain Compliance
  • Automation and Tooling

Certification Costs

Certification NameIndividual PriceBundle Price (with Course)
Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA)$395$595
Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)$395$595
Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)$395$595
Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA)$250$299
Kubernetes and Cloud Native Security Associate (KCSA)$250N/A
KCNA + KCSA Bundle$595N/A
CKA + CKAD + CKS Bundle$1095N/A
CKA + CKS Bundle$725N/A


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