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Unlike organization-level certificates (for example: ISO 20000), ITIL® certification benefits an individual in his personal career plan, thereby making him more valuable in the eyes of current or future employers. ITIL certification enhances the competitive edge of IT managers, directors, and consultants, as well. It stands as a display of perspective, and a strong level of commitment to stay ahead of the competition within the industry. Therefore, please note that any ITIL certification you gain is your own, and that there are no company- / organization-level ITIL certificates available.

And, contrary to technology-based (or vendor-specific) certificates, which have predefined tools and expected outcomes for you to master, ITIL certification is focused on your understanding and ability to apply ITIL practices in real-life situations.

Additionally, if all involved parties within an IT organization (IT governance, IT management, and service delivery) are following the same set of practices across the chain, it will ensure clearer communication and a common language among them, effectively reducing the risk of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Aside from lectures and materials for you to learn from, there is an elaborate ITIL certification system, which awards your personal progress within the ITIL qualification scheme. With that said, let me introduce you to the ITIL certification process.

ITIL certification path

As the ITIL training program has multiple layers split into several modules within them, for anyone interested in ITIL certification – the first thing to do would be to create your own training and certification path.

Even though the ITIL qualification system (i.e., ITIL certification) is credit based, your goal should be to create a training and certification path that is as diverse as possible, assuming that you’ll aim for the top. Especially at the intermediate level, try to go through as many different modules as you can, while keeping your focus on those areas that will benefit you the most in your day-to-day operations. As contradictory as this may sound, don’t worry: modules have areas of overlap, effectively allowing you to achieve a wide array of required knowledge, while keeping you focused on your areas of interest.

ITIL Certification Scheme

The best (and only) way to start with ITIL certification is ITIL Foundation, and by completing it, you’ll gain a systemic and professionally valued approach to best practice methodology. Every person within an IT organization is a suitable candidate for the ITIL Foundation level of training and certification, especially those involved with IT operations and IT support. There is excellent information about ITIL Foundation in the following article: ITIL Foundation – all you need to know.

This first step will introduce you to key elements, concepts, and terminology used in the IT service lifecycle. Lifecycle stages, the processes involved, their relationships and linkages, and how they contribute to service management practices are also parts covered within ITIL Foundation.

At the end, by completing the Foundation exams, you’ll end up with a clearer understanding of your role in a service management-oriented organization.

Once you’ve gained an overview of ITIL practice and your role in an IT service-oriented organization, there are a variety of modules within the ITIL Intermediate Level you can take, such as IT Manager, IT Finance Manager, Capacity & Demand Manager, Availability Manager, Service Level Manager, Business / Service Continuity Manager, Service Portfolio Manager, and Supplier Relationship Manager. This will be the most diverse level, with two distinctive sets, each containing specific modules for you to choose from. Each set is designed with real-life applications in mind, so if you’re part of a management role with a broader focus on ITIL practice across teams – Service Lifecycle is your set of choice. On the other hand, if you’re interested in or involved in specialized processes from day-to-day operations, there is the Service Capability module set that will teach you best practices in those areas.

ITIL Managing Across Lifecycle (MALC) is the capstone course that builds on the knowledge and experience that you’ve obtained in the Intermediate courses. It’s required for you to apply this knowledge, as well as the experience you have obtained while performing service management functions. To succeed, make sure you strategize, plan, use, and measure ITIL principles in an integrated approach. MALC is also a final requirement in order to achieve the ITIL Expert title, and more information about MALC is available here: ITIL Intermediate – the next step into the ITIL world.

Being an ITIL Expert is not the end of your ITIL qualification scheme. There is not much value in gathering vast knowledge if it isn’t applied in real-life situations. There’s no fixed curriculum for ITIL Master – the last step in the ITIL qualification scheme, but you are expected to demonstrate active ITIL experience within the workplace.

Once you obtain any of the ITIL certification titles, there is no expiration date on it, and therefore no need for further re-certification. However, note that the ITIL framework is evolving with time, bringing new experiences and practices into the framework itself, so I strongly advise you to keep an eye on news from ITIL officials.

ITIL complementary qualifications

Besides the ITIL qualification scheme, the ITIL Credit System will be rewarding you with additional ITIL certification points if you have any of the existing certificates listed on the official ITIL Credit System web page.

Where to get certification for ITIL

If you are thinking of taking an ITIL training course or exam (ITIL certification), it’s strongly recommended that any training you receive is through an official ITIL Accredited Training Organization (ATO). Only ATOs and their authorized affiliates have licenses to offer training courses and exams, which are copyrighted materials.

You can take courses and exams either online or in the classroom for ITIL Foundation and ITIL Intermediate levels. For online ITIL training sessions and online ITIL exams, all you need is a computer with a good internet connection and a webcam.

Higher certification levels, like ITIL Expert, are awarded automatically once you finish MALC, and have enough credits collected along the way. There is no fixed syllabus, training course, or exam involved for ITIL Master. If you possess the ITIL Expert title and wish to pursue ITIL Master, contact any of the ITIL ATOs for further instructions.

From personal experience, class-based trainings with a certified lecturer are the best choice when starting with training and ITIL certification (ITIL Foundation level). Depending on your personal preference and the amount of time you can dedicate for further advancement within the certification process, you can take either online courses (which are very convenient) or search for class-based trainings and exams from ATOs in your area. A list of all ITIL trainings, exams, and certifications can be also found in: ITIL Certification Path – list of all available ITIL trainings, exams and certificates.

The official ITIL web page has an up-to-date list of all Accredited Training Organizations (ATO), and you can use this list to find out where to get ITIL training and ITIL certification exams closest to you: List of ITIL training and consulting providers.