CKAD vs. CKA: Top Differences to Consider
CKAD vs. CKA: Top Differences to Consider

Kubernetes has increased its popularity since Google launched it in 2014. Today, Kubernetes, a graduated project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), dominates the market, with 78 percent report that containerized workloads and services are orchestrated in production.

As demand for Kubernetes’ expertise and skills is growing, it makes much sense to be certified as a Kubernetes administrator or application developer. Also, hiring managers know that certifying Kubernetes is challenging to attain. If you do rapid internet research, you can quickly find many posts from people who crack Kubernetes certifications like CKA and CKAD examinations.

CNCF (Linux Foundation) issued the popular CKA/CKAD certifications. These examinations look great on the resume. They are known to be tough cookies to crack. When a potential candidate is about to shell out $300 to register for an examination, he/she can best understand the advantages of each one and their current/future roles.

Why are the examinations so hyped? Let’s make a CKA vs. CKAD comparison. Some people may feel that they will need many resources to prepare for this test and even so much time. Instead, all exams can be cleared successfully within a month if you have sufficient study materials.

Let’s begin with a practical example to indicate the key differences. Suppose you’re still wondering what these Kubernetes certifications are. In that case, CKA is a Certified Kubernetes Administrator, and CKAD is a Certified Kubernetes Application Developer.

Program-wise, the CKA exam requires an applicant to try 24 questions over 3 hours, compared with 19 questions for the CKAD, although for a shorter time of 2 hours.

CKAD tests your cloud-native developer/DevOps expertise in the case of the majority of primitive Kubernetes APIs, as well as the candidates who understand this and use it through performance-based testing. In addition to this, CKA expects the user to have sound knowledge of Linux systems, including handling system-based services and cluster maintenance as a whole. CKA involves an E2E approach to understand the Kubernetes Platform.

What is CKA?

The purpose of the CKA Program is to guarantee that the CKAs have the skills, knowledge, and qualifications to carry out the Kubernetes administrators’ tasks. The CKA examination focuses on the management and operation of the Kubernetes cluster, including problem-solving. Higher on the list, we can say that it all involves creating, managing, and problem-solving a cluster.

What is CKAD?

The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer exam certifies that users can design, build, configure, and expose native cloud applications for Kubernetes. CKAD thus focuses on the management and deployment of applications in the Kubernetes cluster. 

It only underlines the topics needed to develop, use and manage applications. The CNCF will be awarding this new certification. We cannot call CKAD easy because it has no cluster management topics. CKA test is 2 hours long, while the CKAD allows 3 hours. 

The CKA examination tests a candidate in Cluster Architecture, and CKAD tests Cluster Configurations. The CKAD examines a candidate on Kubernetes Pod Design and Multi-Container Pods since a developer is more involved in application deployment. Persons who obtain one of these open-source certifications represent the best available talents and have the skills to have an immediate effect.

CKA vs. CKAD: Things that differ

Here are significant differences between CKA vs. CKAD:

  • Since the CKA field needs candidates to be familiar with all administrative skills, it also focuses on the Kubernetes internals, such as bootstrap and kubelet.
  • The CKA examination tests a candidate on cluster architecture topic, and CKAD tests only on cluster configuration.
  • Since an application developer becomes more involved in developing applications, the CKAD tests a candidate in Kubernetes Pod Design & Multi-Container Pods aspects.
  • The CKA tests also clarify work loading and scheduling which is not included in the CKAD examination topics.
  • A CKA examination comprises 30 percent of all topics that do not concern a CKAD candidate. The largest part of a CKA examination is the troubleshooting section!
  • CKAD is solely related to Deployment, DaemonSets, Pods, and other API primitives and may be regarded as a lightweight CKA examination version.
  • The CKA exam focuses on a real cluster administrator, including cluster installation/configuration, networking, and storage setup.
  • On the other hand, the CKAD examination is more geared to a developer who builds its applications to support Kubernetes and uses the admin’s cluster resources.

Which one to choose, CKA or CKAD?

Certifications complement one another and depend on your role and your way of utilizing Kubernetes. The CKA exam focuses more on what an actual cluster manager would do, including the installation/configuration of a cluster, network establishment, and storage set. Someone in such a DevOps role would most benefit from this. On the other hand, the CKAD examination focuses more on a developer who builds their applications to meet the requirements of Kubernetes and utilizes the administrator’s cluster resources. Many adequate resources can help you get to Kubernetes quickly.

Some people may feel that they need many resources and much time to prepare for this examination. You can pass both tests successfully within a month if you have sufficient material for your study. The online courses are worth the money because they are well structured and thorough guides. You can also get hands-on lab experience until you can recite it from the heart.


The adoption of Kubernetes is growing exponentially, and we must be ready for credibility and value to deal with in the marketplace. CNCF allows us to distinguish ourselves in the crowd through the knowledge of Kubernetes with Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) and Certified Kubernetes Application Designer (CKAD).

Whether you choose to be a Kubernetes Administrator, an application developer, or both, this is an excellent way to work with Kubernetes comfortably. The ecosystem of the Kubernetes is already vast and growing every day. Before working with any part of the ecosystem, it is nice to have a fundamental understanding level. Overall, these CKA certification is difficult but valuable. If you want to prove your knowledge of Kubernetes, start to study and good luck with your exam.