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What’s new with the CKAD? Kubernetes certification updates

The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) certification focuses on the skills needed to design and build apps for Kubernetes. Here's what's new with the exam.

Jun 08, 2023 • 4 Minute Read

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  • Learning & Development
  • kubernetes

The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) certification focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to design and build applications for Kubernetes. While the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) is targeted toward those in an administrative role, the CKAD is geared toward developers. If you’re a developer interested in learning how to develop Kubernetes applications, the CKAD is a great certification.


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Like all Kubernetes certs, the CKAD is updated periodically. At the end of 2021, it received a major curriculum update that changed many of the topics covered by the certification exam and added some new concepts as well. Let’s take a look at what has changed on the CKAD.

New topics for the CKAD certification

If you’re in the process of studying for the CKAD, it might be a good idea to make sure that you are aware of these new topics that have been added to the curriculum. Of course, you’ll need to know the old topics that were already covered in older versions of the CKAD as well.

Like most other Kubernetes certification exams, the CKAD is hands-on, so you will not only need to know about these topics, you will need to be able to do tasks associated with them!

  • Building container images - Make sure you're able to create your own container image using a tool like Docker or Podman.
  • Deployment strategies - Be aware of common deployment strategies like blue/green and canary deployments. Make sure you have a basic idea of how you could implement these strategies in Kubernetes using Kubernetes objects like Deployments and Services.
  • Helm - You’ll need a basic understanding of the helm package manager. You probably don’t need to go too deep here, just know how to install software using Helm.
  • API Change Management Process - The new CKAD curriculum states that you need to be aware of the Kubernetes API change management process, specifically the deprecation policy for the Kubernetes API. Just a general awareness should suffice here.
  • Custom resources (CRD) - CustomResourceDefinitions (CRD) allow you to easily extend the Kubernetes API, creating your own custom resource types. This feature is now part of the CKAD curriculum. You may need to be aware of how to create a CRD, as well as how to create and interact with custom objects based on your new custom type.
  • Authentication and Authorization - The subject of authentication and authorization was previously reserved for the CKA and CKS certifications, and wasn’t part of the CKAD. However, the new curriculum includes this topic. You should know how to do things like give your applications permissions to access the Kubernetes API and interact with role-based access control (RBAC).
  • Ingress - Ingresses allow you to route traffic from outside the cluster to Services. They are now covered by the CKAD. The main focus is exposing applications, which means creating Ingresses that route traffic to a Service backend.

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One removed topic

Many of the changes to the CKAD curriculum seem to involve shuffling and re-wording topics that were already covered by the exam. Some of the line items that were removed from the curriculum are still present, just in a slightly different form, and you will still need to know them.

One significant removal that I noticed was one dealing with labels, selectors, and annotations. You’ll still need to know about labels and selectors in order to work with certain other topics such as Deployments, Services, and NetworkPolicies, but there’s no longer a topic that deals specifically with them.

Version 1.23

While I was building course content for the new CKAD version, the exam received an additional update to version 1.23. This version of exam uses Kubernetes version 1.23, but it doesn’t include any changes to the curriculum.

The New CKAD Course

Since the CKAD has undergone such significant changes, it made sense to build a new, updated course to help you learn everything you need to know to become a great developer for Kubernetes and/or pass the CKAD exam. 

If you’re ready to take on the CKAD exam, check out the new Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) course that covers all of the topics (new and old) on the latest CKAD exam.

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