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Impressions of the Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) certification exam

This post explains how to prepare and what to expect from the Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) certification exam.

Jun 08, 2023 • 5 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • Learning & Development
  • kubernetes

Kubernetes is a useful tool in the world of cloud native. And more and more companies are using it. It’s also a tool that carries a lot of depth and potential for complexity. To put it simply, there’s a lot you can learn when it comes to Kubernetes.

Until now, the Kubernetes certification landscape has been primarily focused on the heavily technical perspective of engineers who are planning to use Kubernetes, whether as administrators, developers, or security folks. But what about those who may not be as concerned about the deeply technical aspects of the tool? What if you're more interested in the high-level features and its role in the world of what we are now calling “cloud native”?

The latest Kubernetes certification fills this gap. The Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) certification exam focuses on foundational knowledge of Kubernetes, as well as general concepts related to cloud native. Perhaps most importantly, it's designed to demonstrate a working knowledge of what cloud native is all about and how Kubernetes fits in.


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Taking the KCNA exam

Unlike other Kubernetes exams, this one is more conceptual, so it uses multiple-choice questions rather than hands-on scenarios. The time limit for the exam is 90 minutes, which I found to be sufficient to carefully answer the questions without rushing too much. If you're looking to register to take the exam, you can do so here.

What does the KCNA exam cover?

Of course I can’t share in detail what’s on the exam, but I can offer a few general observations that might help if you decide to take the KCNA certification exam.

Workload resources

Workload resources are the Kubernetes objects that allow you to manage workloads in dynamic ways. Things like ReplicaSets, Deployments, DaemonSets, and CronJobs. Some general knowledge of more or less all of the workload management resources in Kubernetes might come in handy. You should at least be familiar with the role each one plays and be able to differentiate between them.


Another area of focus is the architecture of Kubernetes itself. I’d suggest building an understanding of the general architecture of a cluster, i.e. the control plane and worker nodes.

You’ll also need to have to be familiar at a high level with all of the various components of Kubernetes. Things like API server, Scheduler, and kubelet. If you can look at a Kubernetes architectural diagram and briefly articulate the role each component plays, you’ll probably do very well in this area when it comes to the exam!

Not just Kubernetes …

As the publicly available KCNA curriculum reveals, the exam deals with more than just Kubernetes alone. It also contains material about cloud native in general.

Before taking the exam, it would be a good idea to become familiar with what cloud native is all about, as well as some of its practices. Don’t assume that topics from the curriculum like serverless, autoscaling, and telemetry are viewed purely from the perspective of Kubernetes. You should have some familiarity with how these topics relate to cloud native in general. Of course, I cover all of this in my KCNA course - more on this below!

Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is behind the KCNA certification, but they’ are also a key part of the cloud native community. Having an idea of what the CNCF does and how it functions might be useful on the KCNA exam.

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My Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) course

These are just a few observations to help you on your way toward earning a KCNA certification. If you want to dive deeper in preparing for the exam, my new Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) course can help you do just that!