The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides best practices for delivering IT services using a structured approach to IT Service Management (ITSM). The ITIL certification is near the top of nearly every list of must-have IT certifications, and for good reason. As an IT management framework, ITIL can help companies manage risk, strengthen customer relationships, establish cost-effective practices, and build a stable IT environment that allows for growth, scale, and change.

ITIL 4 was updated by Axelos in February 2019 to include a stronger focus on maintaining resilience, resilience, and innovation in ITSM, while continuing to support legacy networks and systems. As of 2021, ITIL 4 is fully rolled out and Axelos has announced plans to discontinue ITIL 3 completely by the beginning of 2022.

Those with the ITIL Expert Level 3 certification are eligible for the Transition Module and Exam that will provide you with speed and certified in ITIL 4. For those without the Expert Level certification, the credits from the ITIL 3 Modules and Exams will be transferred to the ITIL 4 Certification scheme.

ITIL 4 Certification Tracks

The ITIL 4 accreditation scheme has been simplified to offer two main pathways of designation with seven total units between the two certifications. You will progress from foundation level to management professional (MP) or strategic leader (SL) tracks. You can stop at either track, or if you choose to complete both tracks, you will be eligible to earn the ITIL Master designation.

ITIL Foundation

Regardless of which path you choose, you will first need to pass the ITIL Foundation module, which is an entry-level certification covering the fundamentals of ITIL 4. Candidates for the ITIL 4 Foundation exam must have a basic understanding of creating products and services that are valuable to customers and stakeholders, the core principles of ITIL 4, and the four dimensions of service management, ITIL 4 best practices, and the core concepts of Lean, Agile, and DevOps.

The ITIL Foundation Course takes place in a semester over two and a half days. At the end of the course, you will take a one-hour exam consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions and you will need 26 correct answers to pass. Courses are offered by accredited training organizations and can be found on the Axelos website. You can also choose to self-study using practice exams and other materials from Axelos or third-party providers.

ITIL Managing Professional (MP)

The ITIL MP certification is for IT practitioners working with technology and digital teams across an organization. It covers the knowledge needed to operate 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:

  • Specialist in ITIL Create Delivery and SupportThis unit covers basic service management techniques, service performance, service quality, and improvement methods. It targets ITSM practitioners responsible for the overall delivery of IT services and products.
  • ITIL specialist driving stakeholder value: This module covers the engagement and interactions between customers, users, suppliers, and partners with a service provider. You’ll cover Service Level Agreement (SLA) design, multi-vendor management, communications, relationship management, user experience (CX) and user experience (UX) design, and customer journey mapping.
  • ITIL Specialist High Velocity ITIn this unit, you will learn how to combine methodologies such as Agile and Lean with other technical skills, including cloud, automation, and automated testing, to deliver rapid delivery of products and services.
  • ITIL Strategist Directly Plans and ImprovesModule 4 covers the practical skills needed to “create an educational and IT improvement organization with a strong and effective strategic direction.” You will focus on leveraging flexibility and flexibility to plan and deliver continuous improvements quickly.

ITIL Strategic Leader (SL)

The ITIL SL certification is for all digitally enabled services in an organization, not just IT operations. This certification focuses on how information technology influences and informs business strategy. To earn your ITIL SL certification, you will need to pass two of the exam modules:

  • ITIL Direct Strategic Planning and Improvement: This is the same module that was introduced in the MP certification, which covers the skills needed to create a “learning and improving” IT organization. It is considered a universal module for both tracks because it is designed for “managers of all levels involved in shaping direction and strategy or developing a consistently working team.”
  • ITIL Leader Digital & IT Strategy: In the second unit, you will learn how to align business and IT strategy and how to deal with disruptive technologies. It covers topics such as how to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market, maintain flexible and adaptable environments, and how to effectively build and implement successful IT and digital strategies.


If you complete all required modules for both the MP and SL certification tracks, you will be eligible for the ITIL Master designation. To become an ITIL expert, you need at least five years of experience working in ITSM at the leadership, management or advisory level.

The ITIL Master designation requires a strong background in ITSM and extensive practical experience working with ITIL, but there is no established course or curriculum. You will be tested based on a situation of your choice, so the material will be personal to your experience. Certification requires practical experience, and you need to “justify how you have personally chosen and applied a combination of knowledge, principles, methods, and techniques from the ITIL framework and supporting management techniques to achieve desired business outcomes,” according to Axelos.

ITIL 3 Certification Compliance

ITIL 4 is backward compatible with ITIL 3 – Courses included in the ITIL 3 scheme are assigned a credit value based on the level of ITIL content, so they remain valuable for your professional education. Those with 17 credits or more, or candidates who have achieved the ITIL Expert certification under ITIL 3, will be eligible for ITIL 4 Professional Transition Management unit and exam. This five-day course will help you get up to speed with ITIL 4 and put you on the right track to earning an updated ITIL Managing Professional (MP) designation.

The transition test, called Upgrade to ITIL 4 Foundation, will be available until June 2022. If you have not completed the exam by that date, you will need to start the ITIL 4 certification process from scratch.

If you would like to learn more about how to transfer your ITIL 3 certifications to the ITIL 4 Accreditation Scheme, Axelos offers recommended routes For candidates in this position.

ITIL Certification Training

If you are familiar with ITIL 4 and feel comfortable with exam self-study, you can download study materials and practice exams through the Axelos website. Organizations can also choose ITIL trainers who come to train people in the organization and obtain certification at home.

If you are new to ITIL or want a refresher, certified training providers can be found through the Axelos website. Many companies offer training and courses either online or in person. Companies that offer self-learning, online course, hybrid classes and flexible learning paths include:

  • after 20
  • global knowledge
  • Good e-learning
  • ITSM Academy
  • Learning Tree
  • pink elephant
  • Learn SimpliLearn
  • Stanford University of Information Technology
  • Udemy

ITIL Certification Salary

ITIL 4 certification can increase your earning potential in several positions. Those who occupy positions related to using ITIL 4 earn an average annual salary of $99,000 per year, according to data from PayScale.

PayScale also provides data on how ITIL 4 certification can boost salary across several specific IT careers:

Location average income
This is it 188,388 dollars
Vice President of Information Technology 164.211 dollars
IT manager $136,004
IT manager 102.535 dollars
Delivery Service Manager $100,039
IT project manager $96,377
IT Business Analyst $72,852

ITIL Certification Cost

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

ITIL . Resources

Alongside ITIL 4, Axelos launched My ITIL, an online networking resource that connects candidates with publications, tools, templates, and insights from industry leaders. A one-year subscription to My ITIL is included in your ITIL Foundation Exam and gives you access to resources and content relevant to your ITIL training, such as:

  • ITIL flyers and templates
  • white papers
  • CPD Tools for Professional Development Planning
  • A digital badge for your ITIL Foundation certification

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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