Prometheus Certified Associate (PCA): Complete Study Guide and Exam Preparation Tips

Prometheus Certified Associate (PCA)

In this Prometheus Certified Associate guide, we will look at the resources to prepare for the certification exam and tips for passing the PCA certification

PCA is a Linux Foundation Certification that primarily tests the candidates’ knowledge on observability and Prometheus skills. In the DevOps certification category, PCA comes under Observability certification.

This guide covers everything you need to know about the Prometheus Certified Associate certification.

Prometheus Certified Associate Registration

The first step in the PCA certification exam is registration.

Note: Save 30% Today on PCA certification using the Voucher code given below. This code expires soon.

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Here is what you need to know about the exam.

  1. The PCA exam is to be taken online and it is proctored remotely. It is a closed book exam.
  2. After registration, you get 12 months to schedule the exam.
  3. You get one free retake if you fail on the first attempt. If you miss a scheduled exam for any reason – your second attempt gets nullified.
  4. Within 24 hours of completing the exam, you will get the exam results via email.

PCA Exam Details

I have organized all the PCA exam details in the following table.

Exam Duration90 minutes.
Total Questions60
Exam TypeMultiple Choice Exam
Pass Percentage75% (45 out of 60 questions)
PCA Certification Validity2 Years
Exam Cost$250 USD
Free RetakeOne Retake
Exam LanguageOnly English

You can find other details from the following official Linux Foundation documentations.

  1. PCA Exam Instructions: Information about system requirements (PSI Secure Browser), location and ID card requirements.
  2. PCA FAQ’s: Commonly asked quested related to PCA exam.

Domains & Competencies

Now that you have a complete understanding of the exam, let’s look at the PCA exam syllabus with domains and competencies.

Observability Concepts1. Metrics
2. Understand logs and events
3. Tracing and Spans
4. Push vs Pull
5. Service Discovery
6. Basics of SLOs, SLAs, and SLIs
Prometheus Fundamentals1. System Architecture
2. Configuration and Scraping
3. Understanding Prometheus
4. Limitations Data Model and
5. Labels Exposition Format
PromQL1. Selecting Data
2. Rates and Derivatives
3. Aggregating over time
4. Aggregating over dimensions
5. dimensions
6. Binary operators
7. Histograms
8. Timestamp Metrics
Instrumentation and Exporters1. Client Libraries
2. Instrumentation
3. Exporters
4. Structuring and naming metrics
Alerting & Dashboarding1. Dashboarding basics
2. Configuring Alerting rules
3. Understand and Use
4. Alertmanager
5. Alerting basics (when, what, and why)


Even though the PCA is a multiple-choice exam, you need to have a running Prometheus setup to learn the concepts in detail.

You can start with a simple VM-based Prometheus setup and then move on to a Kubernetes-based setup based on the concepts you learn.

The following are the detailed guides that will help you setup a PCA exam lab.

  1. Setup Prometheus on Linux
  2. Setup prometheus stack using Docker Compose
  3. Setup Prometheus on Kubernetes

Note: I highly suggest you set up your own lab locally or on the cloud to learn all the Prometheus concepts better

PCA Preparation Guide

I have added all the Prometheus official documentation references and other useful authoritative resources for each concept that comes under the exam syllabus.

Observability Concepts

This section primarily deals with Observability concepts in general.

ResourceConcepts Covered
What is ObservabilityMetrics
Understand logs and events
Tracing and Spans
Push vs pull in metrics collecting systemsPush vs Pull
What is Service Discovery?Service Discovery
SRE FundamentalsBasics of SLOs, SLAs, and SLIs

Prometheus Fundamentals

This section deals with prometheus architecture, its components, storage, metric data format, metric labels and prometheus limitations.

ResourceConcepts Covered
What is Prometheus?System Architecture
Prometheus ConfigurationConfiguration and Scraping
Prometheus Architecture ScalabilityPrometheus Limitations
Data Model Data model and labels
Exposition formatsPrometheus metric data format


    PromQL (Prometheus Query Language) is the native query language for Prometheus. It lets you select and aggregate prometheus time series data in real time. It helps in analyzing and understanding the metrics scrapped by Prometheus.

    ResourceConcepts Covered
    Complete PromQL GuideSelecting Data
    Rates and Derivatives
    Aggregating over time
    Aggregating over dimensions
    Binary operators
    Timestamp Metrics

    Instrumentation and Exporters

    Instrumentation is a term typically used in application monitoring. In terms of prometheus, it is the process of configuring the application parameters to expose metrics in a format that Prometheus can scrape and store.

    Exporters are like agents that capture application metrics and translate them into a data format that Prometheus can understand. For example, Node Exporter translates OS-level metrics like CPU, memory, disk, and network statistics to prometheus specific metric format.

    ResourceConcepts Covered
    List of client LibrariesClient Libraries
    How to InstrumentInstrumentation
    Exporters and IntegrationsExporters
    Practical Guide to Prometheus MetricsStructuring and naming metrics

    Alerting & Dashboarding

    Prometheus comes with a native alerting tool called Alert Manager. It can be configured with prometheus to trigger alerts based on Prometheus alert rules.

    You can create Dashboards based on prometheus metrics using tools like Grafana. It support PromQL queries to create dashboards.

    ResourceConcepts Covered
    Alerting RulesConfiguring Alerting rules
    Alert ManagerUnderstand and Use Alertmanager
    Alerting OverviewAlerting basics (when, what, and why)


    Preparing for Prometheus Certified Associate required detailed learning of all prometheus related components and monitoring & alerting concepts.

    PCA as a whole, not only enhances you knowledge on prometheus, but also on Observability, monitoring and alerting concepts. It will help you in your day-to-day DevOps/SRE job.

    Also, if you are preparing of any other Linux Foundation Certifications, check out the Linux Foundation Coupons page to get discounts on all the certifications.

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