On becoming a Certified Kubernetes Application Developer

Feb 5, 2021
Walter Manger
5 minute read

Over the past few months, I’ve been head-down on learning more about Kubernetes. To help solidify this learning, I thought that it would be a good idea to add some icing on the cake and attempt the CKAD exam.

I am glad to report that as of today, I am a Certified Kubernetes Application Developer.

My study strategy wasn’t really unique, but I’ll describe it below.

Don’t Waste Time

Don’t waste time wondering how long it takes or how much effort it takes to be ready for the exam. If you have a routine, none of that matters. Just show up and you will be prepared before you know it.

Establish a Routine

My goal was to at least spend 1 hour a day most days studying Kubernetes and preparing for the exam. Of course, in the beginning it required more time because the concepts were new to me. I highly suggest using something like the pomodoro technique to force your focus on studying for at least 2 pomodoros a day. That’s 50 minutes total per day. If at the end of the 2 pomodoros you still have questions, dedicate another for discovery/research. I would be strict with the maximum amount of pomodoros per day you want to dedicate to study.

Find out more about the Pomodoro Technique here.

Get Good With Docker

In order to understand how to manage containerized workloads, you’ll want to know what a container is and why it is useful. Containers have been taking the software development industry by storm. Any learning you do here will transfer directly to any software engineering role.


First, understand the basics of Docker by taking the Docker 101 course.

Then, try to “Dockerize” an app that you’ve created. You’ll be creating your own Dockerfile. It will be best if the app was non-trivial. The app should rely on things like Environment Variables, Command Arguments, and make use of a .dockerignore file to reduce the size of the image created. Be sure to install specific operating system packages needed for the app to run. For example, if you’re going to be running a node app, ensure the correct version of node is installed.

After you get comfortable with what a Dockerfile is, create a Dockerhub account and learn how to tag and store your docker images.

Finally, learn about how multi-stage builds can help reduce the size of a docker image and implement it into your own Dockerfile.

Learn What Kubernetes Is For

I admit, this is cringy, but this video did help me understand what Kubernetes was for. If you want to go really deep and have a solid foundation, I hightly suggest Microsoft’s 50 days from zero to hero with Kubernetes. I didn’t make it all the way to day 50, but the first 20 days allow you to go pretty deep, and I like how it is all bite-sized information, often times not taking more than an hour each day.

Enroll in Kubernetes Certified Application Developer (CKAD) with Tests

Mumshad Mannambeth’s CKAD course was the reason I passed my exam (97% to be specific). That course was so well put together and it gave you many opportunities to apply what you were learning along the way. Most importantly, it didn’t require that you install anything on your computer – everything was done in their KodeKloud environment, which felt almost exactly like the exam.

You should be comfortable taking and passing ALL of the practice exams in the alloted time.


Learn a bit of VIM to help with text editing. You can start by using VIM bindings in your current text editor if it is not already VIM.

Using VS Code? Install Here

Next, start using VIM in the practice exams and build up speed.

Finally, Enroll in CKAD

With your enrollment, you get to schedule your exam on the day you’d like. You also get 2 tries. On exam day, you’ll need a webcam, a specific chrome extension installed, and maintain a quiet, clear working environment while taking the test. The exam is given through the browser and you are allowed to have one other tab open to browse the Kubernetes documentation.

All of this is communicated well in advance.


Save all of the yaml manifests for each resource type to your bookmarks. This will reduce the need to search the Kubernetes documentation. Every second counts.

What it feels like

It feels almost exactly the same as the practice tests you take in the CKAD course. You only get 2 hours to complete the exam. You will feel rushed, but that’s ok.

Each question has a weight, which means if you see a question requiring multiple steps to complete, move on to a heavier question and answer that one first. You can come back to questions you flag. You will also get partial credit for answering portions of a question.

Your Score

You will get your grade 36 hours later. Yea, waiting for that score is not fun. You will feel like you didn’t do well, but you probably did just fine!


Hopfully this helps you in some way to become a Certified Kubernetes Application Developer. I can’t praise Mannambeth’s CKAD course enough. It took me about 3 months of study to feel confident taking the exam. Your mileage will vary.

Good Luck.