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ITIL certification guide: Mastering IT services management

Rich Hein, Sharon Florentine | Sept. 12, 2017
ITIL is IT’s go-to framework for delivering IT services. From ITIL Foundation to ITIL Master, here’s everything you need to know about the latest ITIL certifications.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is near the top of almost every list of must-have IT certifications, and for good reason. ITIL practices are designed to help companies identify areas where they need improvement, providing vendor-neutral guidelines on where to make specific changes to reduce costs and increase productivity. Keep in mind: ITIL is not a tool but rather a set of best practices pertaining to IT service and lifecycle management.

For example, you may use ITIL practices to reduce helpdesk traffic by implementing self-help sections on your company's website, or to decide whether it’s more cost-effective to have a project handled in-house or by a third-party.

 

What is ITIL?

ITIL is a library of volumes describing a framework of best practices for delivering IT services. The ITIL has gone through several revisions in its history and currently comprises five books, each covering various processes and stages of the IT service lifecycle:

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service Operation
  5. Continual Service Improvement

The ITIL, currently ITIL v3, focuses on business and IT integration, and ITIL certifications can be earned at five levels. ITIL’s systematic approach to IT service management can help businesses manage risk, strengthen customer relations, establish cost-effective practices, and build a stable IT environment that allows for growth, scale and change.

 

ITIL certification levels

The ITIL Qualification Scheme uses a modular credit system called the ITIL Credit System. All ITIL and ITIL-related qualifications within the ITIL Credit System are assigned a specific credit value. As those credits are applied, the applicant qualifies to test for a higher level of certification. Ultimately, a total of 22 credits is required to achieve ITIL Expert certification. There’s a separate set of requirements for ITIL Master qualification; candidates must already be ITIL Expert certified before they can achieve ITIL Master status.

There are six levels of qualifications within the ITIL Qualification Scheme that include the following:

  • ITIL Foundation, which scores candidates with 2 credits, consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. No prerequisites are required to take this examination. It deals with key elements, concepts and terminology associated with ITIL service lifecycle management.
  • ITIL Practitioner was added in July 2016 and earns candidates 3 credits toward their ITIL Expert certification. It is considered the next step after the ITIL Foundation, which is a prerequisite. An ITIL Practitioner will be able to explain how to use the ITIL framework to support business objectives, and focuses on organizational change management, communication, measurement and metrics.
  • ITIL Intermediate Level, which scores a candidate with 15 or 16 credits, is open to those who have already passed the ITIL Foundation exam and have completed an accredited training course. The intermediate level includes two paths: Service Lifecycle, with five examinations (Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement); and Service Capability, with four examinations (Planning Protection and Optimization, Release Control and Validation, Operational Support and Analysis, and Service Offerings and Agreements).
  • ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC), which scores the candidate with 5 credits, requires the candidate to have passed the ITIL Foundation exam, along with an additional 15 credits from passing ITIL Intermediate exams, giving them a minimum of 17 credits to take this exam. This is also the gateway exam to achieve ITIL Expert Level.
  • ITIL Expert Level requires the candidate to have accumulated 22 credits that have been gained by passing the ITIL Foundation, Intermediate Level and MALC exams.
  • ITIL Master Qualification requires the candidate to already be ITIL Expert-level qualified. To achieve the ITIL Master Qualification, candidates must "explain and justify how they selected and individually applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods and techniques from ITIL and supporting management techniques, to achieve desired business outcomes in one or more practical assignments."

 

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