How to Access Docker Environment Variables from a Cron Job?

When running a cron job inside a Docker container, you may need to access environment variables that are defined within the container. However, accessing these variables requires some additional configuration to ensure they are available to the cron job. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to access Docker environment variables from a cron job.

Step 1: Create a Docker Environment File

First, you need to create a Docker environment file that defines the environment variables you want to access. Create a file named .env (or any name of your choice) in the same directory as your Dockerfile. Add the environment variables in the following format:


For example:


Step 2: Load Environment Variables in Dockerfile

Next, you need to load the environment variables from the .env file into your Docker image. Modify your Dockerfile to include the following lines:

# Copy the environment file
COPY .env /usr/src/app/.env

# Load the environment variables
RUN export $(cat /usr/src/app/.env | xargs)

Make sure to adjust the file paths to match the location of your .env file.

Step 3: Pass Environment Variables to the Cron Job

To pass the environment variables to the cron job, you can use the -i option when running the docker run command. This option ensures that the cron job has access to the environment variables defined in the Docker environment file.

docker run -i --env-file=.env your-image-name

Replace your-image-name with the name of your Docker image.

Step 4: Access Environment Variables in Cron Job

Finally, you can access the environment variables from your cron job script. Inside the script, you can reference the variables directly as you would in any other script.

For example, if your cron job script is a shell script (, you can access the environment variables like this:


echo "Database host: $DB_HOST"
echo "Database port: $DB_PORT"

# Rest of your cron job logic

Make sure to replace DB_HOST and DB_PORT with the actual names of your environment variables.

Additional Tips

  • If you make changes to the environment variables, you will need to rebuild your Docker image to reflect the changes.

  • Ensure that the environment variables are correctly defined and set in the .env file. Any typo or formatting issue can cause the variables to be inaccessible.

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