The Docker Certified Associate is a relatively new (less than a year old at this point) certification offered by Docker that covers Docker, Docker Swarm, and the Enterprise features of Docker in one official certification. In this article, we will take a look at some ways to prepare yourself to successfully take this exam and count yourself among the certified.

Certification Details

This is (currently) the first and only official professional certification program for the Docker Enterprise Edition platform. More summary details around the certification program, in general, can be found here at Docker’s official certification site. This certification was launched by Docker in October of 2017 as a benchmark to establish your expertise in container technology skills as they pertain to Docker. (If you’ve taken our Docker Certified Associate course and the certification exam, we’d love to hear your feedback here!)

Currently, the exam consists of 55 multiple choice questions that you have 80 minutes to complete, covering the following domains of expertise in Docker Enterprise Edition:

  • Orchestration (25% of the Exam)
  • Image Creation, Management, and Registry (20% of the Exam)
  • Installation and Configuration (15% of the Exam)
  • Networking (15% of the Exam)
  • Security (15% of the Exam)
  • Storage and Volumes (10% of the Exam)

You can expect your mix of questions to follow the weighting above. Once you complete the exam, you will immediately receive your score. Then, in a follow-up email, you will receive a break down of your score in each of the domains listed above.

Begin Preparation

First, you should have some experience with Docker. Docker recommends that the successful candidate will have six months or more of experience using Docker in real-world situations. Your success in preparing for this exam will be affected by the amount of exposure you have to containers prior to sitting for the exam. However, your mileage may vary depending on how much experience you have with other tools and utilities and how quickly you are able to pick up new concepts.

One of the easiest ways to prepare for this exam is to enroll at Linux Academy. There, you will find a full certification preparation course for Docker Certified Associate that covers each objective, in every domain listed above. You will find quiz and exam questions, flashcards to study, video demonstrations, hands-on labs and exercises, and a study guide, all designed to help prepare you for success.

However, outside of access to those materials, there are still a number of things that you can do to prepare yourself for success. First, the official Docker documentation is a great resource to go through for each of the domain objectives as listed. The documentation is sometimes missing some of the basic details if you are new to containers, but if you have the requisite background in real-world environments, you will be able to find what you need to know.

Next, if you have access to the Linux Academy preparation course, you can skip the initial setup of Docker. Otherwise, you will want to visit Docker and obtain licensing for a trial of the Docker Enterprise Edition so you can practice those enterprise features you will be tested on. You can get a 30-day license to try, so be sure to make time to get through that part in 30 days while studying enterprise features.

Ready To Start

You have access to the Linux Academy preparation course, or you have your own licensing in your back pocket, I recommend the following environment for practice:

  • Three virtual systems:
    • One swarm master
    • Two worker nodes

This will allow you to set up a basic cluster for use. It will also allow you enough systems to practice multiple masters in a cluster, and what happens when a master is lost in cluster management (you will be able to promote/demote nodes within a cluster to managers). Additionally, you will be able to remove and troubleshoot worker issues and how that affects replicas in your services as you practice.

Key Topics to Know

The domains and competencies that are listed at the top have a number of sub-items under each of them you’ll need to prepare for. Some of the individual topics that are likely to show up in multiple forms during your exam are:

  • Understanding the different ways to scale service replicas up and down
  • Knowing how to inspect the various components of your manager, workers, services, containers, and Docker configuration
  • Understanding the location of the configuration file as well as the format for configuring storage drivers, logging drivers, etc.
  • Being able to initialize a swarm cluster and join worker nodes to it
    • Know how to get the token for joining a cluster from the master
  • Be able to work with Docker objects like:
    • networks (adding or removing them, and knowing what kinds of networks are available and when to use them)
    • storage drivers (changing your default storage configuration and where to do it)
    • creating volumes that can be used by your services in a swarm
  • Enterprise and security features:
    • What is Docker UCP and DTR?
    • How to securely access remote Docker registries
    • Manage user accounts in UCP

There are a number of potential questions that you may see, but the vast majority are concentrated on use cases (i.e., when do you use a command, what does the command indicated, what command can you run to troubleshoot a given scenario, etc.). This is why some real-world exposure to containers and their behavior is one of the keys to success.

Next Steps

Similar to the path you would follow to get to Carnegie Hall (practice, practice, practice), you will find yourself traveling that path here. Whether using the material and included Docker virtual instances at Linux Academy or the Docker documentation itself and your own environment, your most successful path with be to practice the key topics within this article. Once you have successfully passed the certification, don’t forget to stop back here and let us know so we can celebrate together. Good luck!

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