An ITIL certification guide from Foundation to Master

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If you have a management mindset and enjoy working with people, then ITIL certification could be your ticket to an exciting career.ITIL is a globally recognized IT Service Management Framework that can be applied to a wide variety of industries. For example, Walt Disney Theme Parks, various U.S. government agencies, the United Kingdom’s Mueller Yogurt brand, and many other organizations have applied the ITIL Framework into their IT service management processes.

If your organization wants to leverage the ITIL Framework, the best way to do that is by following ITIL’s certification framework and employing individuals who hold the certifications appropriate to their job role. With that in mind, here is an ITIL certification guide, a breakdown of everything you need to know about each ITIL certification, as well as which people in your organization need those credentials in order to effectively apply the ITIL Framework.

ITIL Foundation 

ITIL Foundation is the first step in the ITIL certification path. This certification ties into the terms and concepts addressed in the ITIL service lifecycle and, simply stated, ensures that the holder can “speak” the ITIL way.

Who should take the ITIL Foundation exam?

This certification is geared toward anyone involved with an organization that has adopted ITIL. As stated above, it provides the necessary understanding of the ITIL Framework to discuss its use at a high level. This can be very beneficial to IT professionals, managers, and anyone else within an organization who needs to contribute to, or be informed about, ongoing service improvement plans and management.

What is the ITIL Foundation exam like? 

● Question Type: Multiple choice and closed book exam
● Number of Questions: 40
● Time Allotted: 60 minutes

Prerequisites for taking the ITIL Foundation exam: There are no prerequisites. Candidates can self-study for this exam if they choose.

ITIL Practitioner 

ITIL Practitioner is the most recent addition to the ITIL certification path and it is the practical component to the concepts learned through ITIL Foundation. It is primarily tied to the ITIL Continual Service Improvement (CSI) approach within the service lifecycle. Additionally it addresses three critical aspects of improvement initiatives:

1) Measurement and Metrics
2) Communication
3) Organizational Change Management

Who should take the ITIL Practitioner exam?

This certification is for anyone who wants additional practical knowledge of the concepts covered in ITIL Foundation. However, it is not a requirement to continue through the ITIL certification path.

What is the ITIL Practitioner exam like? 

● Question Type: Multiple choice and open book exam
● Number of Questions: 40
● Time Allotted: 135 minutes

Prerequisites for taking the ITIL Practitioner exam: ITIL Practitioner candidates must first successfully pass the ITIL Foundation exam before attempting the Practitioner exam. Candidates can self-study for this exam if they choose.

ITIL Intermediate — Service Lifecycle Modules 

When progressing to the intermediate certifications, aspiring candidates choose one path to concentrate on, the Lifecycle or Capability modules. The ITIL Service Lifecycle path contains five certifications that each focus on the management aspect of quality IT Service Management practices.

If a candidate does not want to climb to the ITIL Expert level, then he/she can choose to only take the exams that directly relate to his/her job role. The certifications included are:

1) Service Strategy (SS)
2) Service Design (SD)
3) Service Transition (ST)
4) Service Operation (SO)
5) Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

Who should focus on the ITIL Service Lifecycle modules?

This specific path in the ITIL Intermediate level is designed primarily for those who are looking to develop into or currently hold a leadership role in the IT Service Management process. These certifications address management components necessary for each of the different ITIL work teams.

What are the ITIL Service Lifecycle exams like? 

Each of the five Service Lifecycle exams follow the format listed below:

● Question Type: Multiple choice and closed book exam
● Number of Questions: 8
● Time Allotted: 90 minutes

Prerequisites for taking the ITIL Service Lifecycle exams: Prior to taking any of the ITIL Service Lifecycle exams, candidates must first hold their ITIL Foundation certification and have taken an accredited training course for the module they are testing in.

ITIL Intermediate – Service Capability Modules 

When progressing to the intermediate certifications, aspiring candidates choose one path to concentrate on, the Lifecycle or Capability modules. The ITIL Service Capability path contains four certifications that each focus on the specialized skills needed to execute ITIL practices on a daily basis. If a candidate does not want to climb to the ITIL Expert level, then he/she can choose to only take the exams that directly relate to his/her job role. The certifications included are:

1) Operational Support and Analysis (OSA)
2) Planning, Protection and Optimization (PPO)
3) Release, Control and Validation (RCV)
4) Service Offerings and Agreements (SOA)

Who should focus on the ITIL Service Capability modules?

This specific path is designed for the ITIL Practitioner who is tasked with carrying out the ITIL practices as directed by management. Candidates for the Service Capability modules need detailed working knowledge and skills related to the daily IT service management processes their organization plans to adhere to.

What are the ITIL Service Capability exams like? 

Each of the four Service Capability exams follow the format listed below:

● Question Type: Multiple choice and closed book exam
● Number of Questions: 8
● Time Allotted: 90 minutes

Prerequisites for taking the ITIL Service Capability exams: Prior to taking any of the ITIL Service Capability exams, candidates must first hold their ITIL Foundation certification and have taken an accredited training course for the module they are testing in.

ITIL Expert

Very few people seek out the ITIL Expert certification as it reserved only for those candidates who want to show demonstrated knowledge in the entire ITIL Scheme.

Who should take the ITIL Expert exam?

This is an ideal certification for someone who is overseeing or building an organization’s IT Service Management plan as it is designed to help someone integrate ITIL knowledge into a real workplace setting. Additionally, this certification can benefit someone who is tasked with teaching the ITIL methodology at all levels to others.

What is the ITIL Expert exam like? 

The exam needed to achieve ITIL Expert is known as the Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exam and it follows the format listed below:

● Question Type: Multiple choice and closed book exam
● Number of Questions: 10
● Time Allotted: 120 minutes

Prerequisites for taking the ITIL MALC exam: Before a candidate can enroll in a MALC exam prep course, they must meet the following qualifications.

● Must hold the ITIL Foundation certification.
● Must have earned a total of 17 credits from passing various ITIL certifications at the Foundation, Practitioner and Intermediate levels.

The credits associated with each certification are as follows:

● ITIL Foundation (2 credits)
● ITIL Practitioner (3 credits)
● ITIL Service Lifecycle Modules (Each certification earns a candidate 3 credits)
● ITIL Service Capability Modules (Each certification earns a candidate 4 credits)

Candidates must then take the MALC training course and successfully pass the exam to earn a final five credits, for a total of 22 credits, meeting the required minimum for the ITIL Expert certificate.

ITIL Master 

If you have a management mindset and enjoy working with people, then ITIL certification could be your ticket to an exciting career.ITIL Master is the highest and final certification level of the ITIL certification scheme.

Who should apply for ITIL Master?

This credential validates real-world knowledge and demonstrated application of the ITIL Service Management Framework. This certification is ideal for someone looking to build or improve an organization’s IT Service Management process in accordance to the ITIL Framework.

What is required to achieve ITIL Master? 

Unlike the other levels in the ITIL framework, ITIL Master is not tied to passing a certification exam. Instead, candidates must select several use cases from their own personal experiences with ITIL. Candidates will then be required to justify their decision-making in each case in regards to how it applies to ITIL methods, principles, and techniques, and ultimately how their actions led to the desired business outcome.

Prerequisites for applying to become an ITIL Master: Before a candidate can apply for the ITIL Master and go through the process detailed above, he or she must meet the following qualifications.

● Must hold an ITIL Expert certification.
● Must have worked in the IT service management field in a leadership or advisory role for a minimum of 5 years.

ITIL and you

The growing global adoption of ITIL principles means that there are many opportunities open to ITIL-certified individuals. A certified ITIL professional could seek employment in many different countries and choose from among a variety of challenging and interesting jobs.

If you have a management mindset and enjoy working with people to streamline business processes, then ITIL certification could be your ticket to an exciting career.

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Ashley Neu

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Neu is a technical marketer at Phoenix TS, a U.S.-based certification training provider. She has specialized knowledge in today's top IT, cybersecurity, and management certifications such as the Security+, CEH, CSA+, CASP, CISSP, PMP, ITIL, RHCSA, RHCE and more. You can view more of her certification blog posts on the TechRoots Blog.

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