Reaching a new milestone with the Certified Kubernetes Administrator

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In the open-source and cloud-native world, the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certification is crucial for validating expertise in managing Kubernetes clusters. We spoke with Flavia Paganelli, CTO of Aknostic, about her recent CKA achievement. Flavia shared insights on the certification's importance, her preparation journey, and its impact on her team's technical expertise. This interview offers valuable perspectives on why staying updated with certifications like the CKA is essential in the tech and cloud industry.

You recently passed your Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certification. Can you tell us more about the certification?

Yes, of course. It’s a certification run by the Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to help develop the Kubernetes ecosystem. There are several cloud-native certifications available.
Suppose you work with Kubernetes as a DevOps or a Platform Engineer. In that case, this is the most suitable certification to validate your expertise and skills in deploying, managing, and operating Kubernetes clusters. If you're a software developer, the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer is ideal for demonstrating your expertise in building Kubernetes applications, from deploying pods to everything related to networking, services, observability, and troubleshooting.

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) is a very recommendable and comprehensive certification. It covers all aspects of managing Kubernetes clusters and gives you a view of everything. The certification helps you in a practical way to find your way around Kubernetes clusters.

So it's far more than just an introduction to Kubernetes?

Oh yes! That's how they put it: it's a certification to assure that an engineer has the skills and knowledge to perform the responsibilities of Kubernetes administrators. It's not basic.

About the author:

Flavia Paganelli has diverse work experience spanning various roles and industries. She is currently serving as Aknostic's CTO and before this, was one of the founders of 30MHz. She wrote two books about AWS.


If you pass it, you're guaranteed to be agile with the Kubernetes command line, which is very powerful because it's the API to anything you want to achieve in the Kubernetes ecosystem. You have all the building blocks to go deeper in your work area.

As CTO, why is it important to get everyone certified and achieve high technical expertise?

As I said before, this certification is valuable because, if you pass it, it means you understand all the concepts. If you're thrown into a problem with Kubernetes, you will find your way even with complex setups, like we are doing with the Clouds of Europe.

That's why if everyone has all the concepts, it will be easier to troubleshoot and understand what's going on and make better decisions to set up and maintain new clusters for customers. I’m thrilled that we have several people within Aknostic who are currently preparing it.

As you said, certification is a core value in our work. Since cloud technology is moving at a rapid pace, why is it important to stay updated in the tech? And especially for our clients?

They are happy that we are certified and stay up to date. This certification is valid for two years and you have to renew it because things evolve. Even if the basics of Kubernetes stay the same, if a new version is released, there will be some changes.

In general, it shows that staying up-to-date and being knowledgeable about what we are doing is important and we are not just following along. In the case of the Kubernetes ecosystem, that's where we are putting all our efforts. Since 2009, we are an AWS-specialized company, and we've been doing it for all these years. Everyone working with us has been on a journey to learn and demonstrate their expertise. This is the same with the switch to Kubernetes, whether it’s people who have been only working with Kubernetes or just joined the company, they are also getting into this and are learning.

Is this the current mindset at Aknostic to get certified every year?

It's happening more. The Kubernetes certification is, for a lot of people in our company, enticing because it’s always interesting to learn and to get that empowerment to be agile with Kubernetes. I see it with our colleagues, they do it very enthusiastically. It does require time so it's not something you can do in a couple of days. Because you need to practice a lot, even the Linux Foundation recommends doing it once you have experience with the technology, it’s not enough to follow a course. 


How did you prepare? What are your tips and tricks for this exam?

The first thing I did was the Cloud Guru Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) course. In general, learning doesn't happen in one day, you need time to understand all the concepts. Right next and parallel to this I worked on existing clusters to troubleshoot problems or looked at setups we have. After that, an important step is to practice in Killercoda. 

They have created various scenarios to practice and different exercises. Here you have your cluster and you are given directions such as “A certain component in the Kubernetes cluster is not functioning, troubleshoot and fix it” or “Create a deployment with a certain number of replicas and these requirements on resources”.

When you register for the exam, you have two practice exams that give you access for 36 hours every time. For example, you can do a trial one day and another one the next day. Something good to know is that the trial exam is harder than the real one so you shouldn’t panic too much if you don’t make the trial exam. Also, take into account that you have one retry, if the first time you don’t pass your CKA exam.

My tips and tricks.

Before the exam - Practice a lot on all the exercises. If the concepts aren’t clear, go through the Kubernetes documentation. But if it's not there or if it’s not enough, there is a lot of material online. 

During the exam - The exam itself lasts two hours, so it is important to concentrate during those two hours. My exam had 17 exercises and you need those two hours. Breaks are possible, which I didn’t know the first time. Use a break wisely to rest your mind or go to the restroom and come back refreshed.

  • Drink enough because it's good for your concentration, but bear in mind that, during the exam, you're not allowed to bring coffee, it has to be clear liquids. 
  • You're also not allowed to eat during the exam so make sure to eat before, your brain will need this extra energy to concentrate. 
  • You can access the Kubernetes documentation to double-check certain concepts and copy yaml templates.
  • Speaking about the setup, the practice test is important because It's almost the same as the real environment in which you might have issues with the copy-paste and need to find your way. Apart from doing the exercises, use the practice test to make sure you understand how to use the environment, jump between windows, and especially, copy-paste text from the browser to the terminal.
  • I recommend knowing how to maximize your window with the right resolution because otherwise it's too small and you can not easily read everything (I did the exam with a 13-inch laptop).  
  • Figure out how to copy-paste when you do the tests. So just run different tests, and spend time on that as well. 
  • I recommend taking micro pauses because if you are trying too much to solve something, it can become more difficult so you need to get out of it.
  • You can mark the exercises for solving them later. I think it’s best to solve the “easy” exercises or those you are most sure about first, so that you get some confidence when going through the rest of the exam.

Do you get a lot of questions or is it five elaborate questions or 60 questions? 

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) is performance-based, and you are required to solve multiple tasks in a command-line environment. As said before, the questions are more like exercises than actual questions. For example: “Create a new deployment”, “Create a pod called…”, “Write down how many nodes are ready in this text file”.

I got 17 questions in total; within each, it was a points-based system. If you make one mistake, it doesn't mean the whole exercise is wrong. For example, you might have to build a pod correctly but didn’t give it the right name. And be careful, you also can’t read or talk out loud or even cannot whisper.

Thank you Flavia for your amazing insights and input on the exam! I’m confident it will be beneficial for everyone reading this!