ITIL is a global framework of best practices for IT service management focused on reducing risk, improving customer relations, and supporting IT environments. Read on to explore what ITIL certification is, its benefits, and the path to ITIL certification.
ITIL stands for the IT Infrastructure Library, an internationally accepted IT service delivery framework. The ITIL recommends best practices for IT service management (ITSM) to support the standardization of various processes and stages in the IT lifecycle.
The ITIL started in the 1980s when the United Kingdom's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) saw a need to establish standardized guidelines to avoid inconsistencies among the increasingly diverse IT architectures.
The first version of ITIL was released in 1989, but the framework continues to be revised, overseen by Axelos. The current iteration, ITIL 4, has evolved to meet IT administrators' needs adapting to newer IT management approaches. Thus, along with providing best practices for incident management and continual improvement, it also addresses cloud computing, automation, AI, DevOps, Agile and more [1, 2].
ITIL recognizes the importance of integrating ITSM with other business areas by focusing on seven guiding principles, as described by IFS Assyst :
Focus on value
Start where you are
Progress iteratively with feedback
Collaborate and promote visibility
Think and work holistically
Keep it simple and practical
Optimize and automate
The benefits of ITIL certification extend to both the individual and the IT environment. Consider these main advantages.
Individuals with ITIL certification can earn more. You’ll have a designation demonstrating your knowledge of the role ITSM can play in attaining larger business objectives. Plus, as ITIL is focused on value and streamlining ITSM efforts, employers will pay more for people who can help them save money by reducing operational costs.
ITIL-certified individuals can typically get roles as CIOs, VPs of IT, IT directors, IT managers, service delivery managers, IT project managers, and IT business analysts. Payscale reports the average annual salary for professionals who have ITIL certification as $102,000 per year . Your salary will vary depending on your role, level of experience, location, and the company you work for.
The ITIL framework helps IT administrators improve service timelines and customer satisfaction. The certification also educates you on best practices to increase the IT environment's visibility and flexibility.
ITIL 4 emphasizes the importance of customer feedback. Understanding public perception of IT service delivery can help anticipate risks. At the same time, the ITIL framework is about integrating ITSM into the business culture. Improving collaboration across teams can break down siloes, which also helps to reduce business risks.
The systematic approach of ITIL focuses on improving productivity while streamlining processes using best practices. ITIL 4, though, represents an overhaul aimed at helping ITSM to be more flexible. The certification encourages collaboration and communication, integrating Agile and DevOps practices and automating processes to improve outcome delivery.
Getting credit for your skills and expertise is another benefit of ITIL certification. By taking the time to earn the certification, you establish you have the know-how to take a systematic and professional approach to ITSM. You may already know how to reduce IT costs or improve IT services, but now you have the certification to show you do so using proven best practices.
In one survey of those with ITIL certification, 76.5 percent said it makes them more marketable. Some 58.8 percent of the 117 respondents also thought ITIL certification improved their ability to compete for IT jobs .
ITIL 4 offers three paths to certification as well as two extension modules. With ITIL certification, you demonstrate an understanding of how ITSM impacts business strategy and service delivery.
This first stage in ITIL certification fosters awareness of key IT and digital service delivery concepts. This level:
Examines operations in modern IT and digital service organizations
Addresses how to increase value stream speed and efficiency
Explores the role of cultural or behavioral principles
Outlines commonly used service management terms and concepts
Building on the foundational certification, this stream goes deeper into the practical and technical knowledge to help managing professionals:
Create, deliver, and support IT-enabled services
Drive stakeholder value
Support high-velocity IT
Direct, plan, and improve successful IT-enabled workflows and teams
Expanding on the MP certification, this certification develops more of a strategic perspective. Preparing the IT administrator to play a more significant role in influencing and directing strategy, this certification has two components:
ITIL 4 Strategist Direct, Plan, and Improve
ITIL 4 Leader Digital and IT Strategy
You can also access two specialized ITIL 4 certifications. These focus on emerging technologies, and no prerequisites are needed, so you can use them to gain a deeper understanding of ITIL principles as well as potentially open up new career opportunities:
ITIL 4 Specialist: Sustainability in Digital and IT: Focuses on understanding and managing the environmental effect of digital and IT services
ITIL 4 Specialist: Acquiring and Managing Cloud Services: Explores cloud technology and its use in business strategy
Making ITIL certification part of your career path can help set you apart from your peers in IT. To achieve the benefits of ITIL certification, you’ll need to study the modules and test your understanding.
Accredited training organizations run ITIL training courses in a variety of formats. This means you can complete ITIL certification courses via e-learning courses in a collaborative virtual learning environment, in-person classes, or self-study.
You’ll have to take a 40-question, 60-minute, closed-book, multiple-choice exam to earn your Foundation certification. A score of 26 out of 40 is considered passing.
After passing the Foundation certification, you can move to the Managing Professional certification. You must pass exams for four modules, each of which requires correctly answering 28 of 40 multiple choice questions on the 90-minute, closed-book exams:
ITIL 4 Specialist: Create, Deliver, and Support: This module focuses on the creation of services, and you must pass 28 of 40 multiple-choice questions on the 90-minute exam.
ITIL 4 Specialist: Drive Stakeholder Value: This module helps you learn how to work effectively with stakeholders.
ITIL 4 Specialist: High-velocity IT: This module focuses on the skills needed to work with digital products and services or highly automated environments.
ITIL 4 Strategist: Direct, Plan, and Improve: This module helps you learn the skills needed to improve organization strategies and work with teams.
You can also earn the ITIL Strategic Leader certification after passing the Foundation exam. It consists of passing ITIL 4 Strategist Direct, Plan, and Improve module as described above as well as an ITIL 4 Leader Digital and IT Strategy module. The latter helps leaders learn how to develop digital strategies throughout their organization and requires passing 21 of 30 multiple-choice questions on a 60-minute closed-book exam.
Anyone can take the two extension modules, which require passage of multiple-choice, timed exams.
There is no expiration date on ITIL certification. However, you can gain more of the benefits of ITIL certification by continuing to build on your level of ITIL certification.
Prepare for the ITIL Foundation exam on Coursera. Enroll for free in ITIL 4 Exam Preparation offered by Learn Quest. You can also begin your career path in IT with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate on Coursera.
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Ivanti. “What Is ITIL? The Essential Guide to ITIL, https://www.ivanti.com/glossary/itil." Accessed September 8, 2022.
ILX Group. “ITIL's History from the Late 1980s to Today, https://www.itiltraining.com/usa/blog/itil-history." Accessed September 8, 2022.
IFS Assyst. "The 7 Guiding Principles of ITIL 4: Focus on value, https://assyst.ifs.com/blog/itil4-focus-on-value." Accessed September 8, 2022.
Payscale. "Salary for Certification: Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Information_Technology_Infrastructure_Library_(ITIL)_Foundation/Salary." September 8, 2022.
Skillsoft. "What are ITIL Certifications and are they Worth It? https://www.globalknowledge.com/us-en/resources/resource-library/articles/what-are-itil-certifications-are-they-worth-it." Accessed September 8, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.