ITIL Certification Guide Costs, Requirements, Levels and Paths

  • The ITIL 4 certification system is similar to the previous ITIL 3 certification system, but it has been streamlined to offer two main designation paths with a total of seven modules between the two certifications.
  • The ITIL Foundation course takes place in a classroom for two and a half days.
  • The ITIL SL certification covers all digitally activated services in the organization, not just IT operations.

ITIL 4 is the essential IT framework for the provision of IT services. From the ITIL Foundation to the ITIL Master, here is everything you need to know about the latest ITIL certifications.

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) offers best practices for delivering IT services using a systematic approach to IT Service Management (ITSM). The ITIL certification tops almost all must-have IT certifications, and for good reason. As an IT management framework, ITIL can help businesses manage risk, strengthen customer relationships, establish profitable practices, and create a stable IT environment that enables growth, scale and change.

The ITIL master designation requires a solid background in ITSM and extensive practical experience working with ITIL, but there is no formal training course or schedule for this designation.

ITIL 4 was updated by Axelos in February 2019 to put more emphasis on maintaining agility, flexibility and innovation in ITSM, while supporting networks and systems inherited. As of 2021, ITIL 4 has been fully deployed and Axelos has announced its intention to completely discontinue ITIL 3 by the start of 2022. Those with an ITIL 3 Expert level certification qualify for the transition module and l ‘exam that will allow you to upgrade and become ITIL 4 certified. For those who do not have an Expert level certification, the credits for the ITIL 3 modules and exams will be transferred to the ITIL 4 certification system.

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ITIL 4 certification path

The ITIL 4 certification system is similar to the previous ITIL 3 certification system, but it has been streamlined to offer two main designation paths with a total of seven modules between the two certifications. You will progress from the Foundation level to the paths of Managing Professional (MP) or Strategic Leader (SL). You can stop on either path, or if you choose to follow both paths, you will be eligible for the ITIL master designation.

ITIL Foundation

Whichever certification path you take, you will first need to pass the ITIL Foundation module. This introductory exam covers the basic concepts and principles of ITIL 4. As an entry-level certification, it is designed to teach newcomers the basics of ITIL 4 and to certify that even seasoned professionals have the basic knowledge needed to move on to more advanced certifications.

The ITIL Foundation course takes place in a classroom for two and a half days. At the end of the course, you will take an exam consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions. The exam lasts 60 minutes and you will need 26 correct answers to pass. Courses are offered by accredited training organizations – you can search for one near you on the Axelos website. You can also choose to self-study using practice exams and other study materials from Axelos or third-party vendors.

ITIL Management Professional (ITIL MP)

The ITIL MP certification is for IT professionals who work with technology and digital teams across the organization. It covers the knowledge necessary to lead IT projects, teams and workflows using practical and technical skills. To complete the ITIL MP certification, you will need to pass a series of exam modules:

ITIL Specialist Create Deliver & Support: This module covers key service management techniques, service performance, and service quality and improvement methods, and is intended for ITSM practitioners responsible for end-to-end service delivery and computer products.

ITIL Specialist Drive Stakeholder Value: This module covers engagement and interactions between customers, users, vendors, and partners with the service provider. You will cover SLA design, multi-vendor management, communication, relationship management, CX and UX design, and customer journey mapping.

ITIL High Velocity IT Specialist: In this module, you will learn how to integrate methodologies such as Agile and Lean with other technical skills, including cloud, automation and automatic testing, to provide rapid delivery.

ITIL Strategist Direct Plan & Improve: The fourth module covers the practical skills you will need to “create an IT learning and improvement organization with strong and effective strategic direction”. You will focus on how to leverage agility and Lean to plan and deliver continuous improvements quickly.

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Strategic leader ITIL (SL)

The ITIL SL certification covers all digitally activated services in the organization, not just IT operations. This certification focuses on how IT influences and informs business strategy. To obtain your ITIL SL certification, you will need to pass two exam modules:

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ITIL Strategist Direct Plan & Improve: This is the same module as the one offered in the MP certification, covering the skills needed to create a “learning and improvement” IT organization.

ITIL Leader Digital & IT Strategy: in the second module, you will learn how to align business and IT strategy and manage disruptive technologies.

ITIL 4 certification can help you increase your salary, increasing the amount you can earn in multiple positions.

ITIL Master

If you complete all the modules required for the MP and SL certification pathways, you will be eligible for the ITIL master designation. To become an ITIL master, you will need at least five years of experience in IT service management at a senior leadership, management or management consulting level.

The ITIL master designation requires a solid background in ITSM and extensive practical experience working with ITIL, but there is no formal training course or schedule for this designation. You will be tested in a situation of your choice, so the material will be personal to your experience. Certification requires practical experience and you will be expected to “explain and justify how you have personally selected and applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods and techniques from the ITIL framework and supporting management techniques to achieve the desired business results” Axelos.

ITIL 3 certification compatibility

ITIL 4 is backwards compatible with ITIL 3 – the courses included in the ITIL 3 certification system have been given a credit value according to their level of ITIL content, so they will remain valuable for your ITIL professional training. Those with 17 credits or more, or candidates who have achieved the ITIL Expert certification under ITIL 3, will be eligible for the ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition module and exam. This module is designed to quickly update candidates on changes to the new version and set you on your way to achieving the updated ITIL Managing Professional (MP) designation.

If you would like to know more about transferring your ITIL 3 certifications to the ITIL 4 certification system, Axelos offers recommended routes for candidates for this position.

ITIL certification training

There are several ways you can prepare for your ITIL 4 certification depending on your knowledge of the material. If you are familiar with ITIL 4 and feel comfortable self-studying for the exam, you can download study materials and practice exams through the Axelos website. Organizations can also choose to bring in ITIL trainers to train people within the organization and gain internal certification.

If you are new to ITIL or would like a reminder before taking the exam, you can opt for an accredited training provider, which you can find on the Axelos website. Several companies offer training and courses online and in person.

ITIL certification salary

ITIL 4 certification can help you increase your salary, increasing the amount you can earn in multiple positions. On average, IT workers – or those in relevant roles using ITIL 4 – earn an average annual salary of $ 96,000 per year, according to data from PayScale.

Cost of ITIL certification

Registration fees for the ITIL 3 and ITIL 4 certification exams vary by location, ranging from approximately $ 150 to $ 500. Although you can self-study for the ITIL exams, courses are highly recommended and fees for courses, whether completed online or in class, vary by location and institute. Training can range from $ 500 for an online course to well over $ 1,000 for intensive classroom instruction, and the training may or may not include exam registration fees.

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