The Certified Kubernetes Administrator - my approach

The importance of getting certified in today's world is big, not just in IT, but in the whole industry. I always approached them with the idea of learning the thing that is being tested, not just to pass the exam. Then again, I always opted for the certifications that I was highly interested in at the time. Some of them helped me learn a lot, others, well, they were there just to test my knowledge. I will not address here my passing rate, that is not important. 😅

This blog post is not just about how to prepare for CKA - Certified Kubernetes Administrator, it's about how to get the most of it, how to combine different learning material with exercises, and in the end pass the exam, which is optional if you end up being a real expert, but it helps, both you and people you work with.

How long it will take you to prepare for it?

It depends on what is your objective. If your goal is to learn, I recommend that you approach it with patience, then passing the exam is only going to be an entry to many more great things. If, on the other hand, you just want to pass the exam quickly with no intention of getting into topics a bit deeper - well, you might re-think your approach, because the knowledge you get out of this approach might end up being scarce.

When I first came in contact with Kubernetes I was overwhelmed with different topics, materials, pods this, and pods that, containers, always containers, and so on... Then I took a breather, or how I like to call it – a piece of advice from my colleague and friend, and with it, I slowly started walking on the Kubernetes path. I thought about the end goal, and the certification didn't come up even in my web searches. My main goal was and still is (although a bit revisited) to learn about Kubernetes in general, what it is, what it does, how it works, etc. And I think I did a good job on the learning part, but, it is a never-ending journey, so I'm not even halfway done, and will probably never be. As you can see, I can try giving motivational talks, I would be great at them. Not!

To put it in not so exact time perspective - if you work daily with Kubernetes, and you want to learn, it will take up to a month to prepare, depending on your motives, other things you want to achieve and so on. In case you are a Kubernetes newbie as I were couple of years ago, prepare yourself for a longer period, and be patient.

The start of my Kubernetes journey

So, how I started? Well, as most of us do when getting acquainted with something (or somebody) new - I searched the internet, a lot... This didn't help much, so as mentioned above, I did a bit of restructuring of my goals (in other words, I set them). The next thing was to go a bit deeper and read about it since I'm more of a book rather than a video/audio person.

The book that helped me a lot in getting to know Kubernetes is Kubernetes in Action, by Marko Lukša. This is a well-written and well-structured book, with a lot of great examples and explanations of abstract and not so abstract concepts. I read it cover to cover, as actively as possible.

The reading itself wasn't the only thing I did. While I read it, I created a Kubernetes playground on some virtual machines and played along with the exercises from the book there. I tackled many things, from creating and configuring the cluster, to configuring pod security policies, and so on. The book and the hands-on that I got from the playground helped me get a grasp of the Kubernetes and its whole ecosystem.

This whole process took me months. I wasn't in a hurry, and I also had different obligations both personal and work-wise. In the end, it helped me understand the big picture, and learn a lot of the Kubernetes, both internals and externals. And I didn't know a thing about it in the beginning!

Decision to get certified

Next up - the certification. I decided on it after a year or so of working with Kubernetes. As I already mentioned, it wasn't my first goal, hence the period. I quickly went through the topics which are going to be on the exam and applied for it. The exam date was in two weeks or so. Then, I went through the topics more deeply - okay, I can handle it, I know this, and this, what the hell is this thing, and this?! I then spiraled a bit, but in the end, I created a plan and started learning the things I didn't know and reviewing the things (I think) I knew. During that journey, CKA course on Udemy helped me immensely! My lab cluster was long gone (destroyed, but always remembered), so the virtual lab environment provided by this course was the best thing. I started going through the course and the practice exams, and soon enough, I was ready.

Then, the exam day came, and with it, or a week before it, an e-mail with the things I need to complete in order to take the exam remotely. I did all of them, quite easily since I'm not a Google Chrome user, I didn't have any personal info there, so I kept it vanilla. The thing with the exam is that you are allowed to use the official Kubernetes documentation since there is a lot of material covered by the exam. I've created a list of bookmarks from the Kubernetes documentation in Google Chrome and I practiced searching through it. You are allowed to have two tabs open during the exam, one with the exam, the other one being the Kubernetes documentation, so I planned to use the documentation as a reference whenever I could. I passed the exam in the end, and the whole experience during the exam was quite good, I haven't had any issues, challenges, or similar. Then the best thing about getting certified came - bragging about it on social media! Just kidding, but it was nice to share your achievement with people around you.

The Wrap-Up

So, to summarize, the steps I took, that may be of help to you were the following:

  1. take your time and be patient
  2. read the relevant book(s), the one which helped me is Kubernetes in Action
  3. apply for the CKA exam
  4. review the topics alongside a video or book course, my recommendation - CKA course on Udemy.

A neat "trick" about step 3 is that you can get a vast amount of discount if you attend some of the conferences related to Kubernetes, such as KubeConEU or KubeConNA, and also learn a lot. I applied and attended both of them remotely, and the discount for the exams was not the only thing I got - I was able to listen to so many great talks, had some new ideas along the way, and also received some swag in the mail, so in essence - great experience so far!

What are the next steps on my journey of learning the Kubernetes? Well, I plan to deepen my knowledge by working with it daily, exploring new things, reading and writing articles about it, listening to podcasts, etc.

There are endless possibilities when you have information in the palm of your hand, you just need to filter it out.

See you in the next week's issue, and in the meantime, feel free to share this post or provide feedback in the comments below.