What Is ITIL Certification (With Types and Benefits)

Updated July 8, 2023

If you work in the information and technology industry, you may consider exploring certification programs that can enhance your skill sets. Earning a relevant information technology (IT) certification can increase your employment opportunities and help you study the various systems you might encounter on the job. Before enrolling in a course, it may be helpful to read about some of your Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certification options.

In this article, we discuss what ITIL is, including five types of ITIL certifications to explore, the benefits of earning a certification and the salary and job outlook for IT employees.

What is ITIL?

ITIL is an organizational framework for IT employees. It outlines various policies and procedures that may help when assisting businesses with their IT needs. ITIL began as a set of guidelines for managing the technological systems of government agencies but is now a standardized list of IT best practices for organizations of all sizes. By following ITIL guidelines, IT employees can create checklists that help them accomplish their duties more efficiently.

Using ITIL also allows companies to keep their systems operating while reducing any downtime that can affect profits. The basic principle of ITIL is to develop repeatable, dependable processes that IT employees can use to identify issues quickly and identify potential solutions. ITIL has a service life cycle that describes five basic phases, each containing multiple supporting principles, processes and policies.

Here are the five basic phases of ITIL:

Service strategy

The first phase involves defining whether an IT department's strategies align with the company's goals, then implementing a plan to maintain these strategies. Service strategy phase focuses on areas like service portfolio management, demand management, financial management and business relationship management.

Service design

The service design phase develops actionable plans and puts them into action using the strategies made in the previous phase. The service design process involves the designing of new services and the modification and enhancement of existing ones.

Service transition

This phase ensures that new, modified, or retired services meet the expectations of the business as documented in the service strategy. In this phase, the services undergo testing to identify areas of strength and improvement. 

Service operation

This phase considers the effective and efficient delivery and support of IT services to the clients. It focuses on processes like event management, incident management, problem management, request fulfillment and access management. 

Continuous service improvement

Once a system is in place, employees may make suggestions for improvements or report software bugs. When this happens, it's important for the IT service department to address these concerns.

Related: Request for Proposal (RFP): What It Is, Who Creates It and How It Works

What is ITIL certification?

ITIL certifications are programs that provide training in ITIL best practices to IT employees. Many businesses prefer to work with certified employees, as using the ITIL phases for technological solutions can help standardize important business practices. These certification programs provide a wide range of lessons that teach the basics of using ITIL. If you want to increase your employment opportunities, earning one of these certifications may be a good way to prove that you're qualified for an IT position.

Related: 5 Operating System (OS) Interview Questions (With Answers)

5 types of ITIL certifications

If you're interested in learning more about how these certifications can help increase your professional skills, you can read about some of the ITIL certification programs that are available. Here's a list of five types of ITIL certifications:

ITIL Foundation certification

The ITIL Foundation certification course teaches basic ITIL knowledge. This program is typically the starting point for people who want to learn more about the ITIL phases. There are no prerequisites to enroll in this course, so people with any work background can take this certification program and the exam afterward. If you're interested in beginning your training with this course, you can find in-person and online class offerings in a community college or technical school.

Related: What Is System Hardening? (Definition and How It Works)

ITIL Practitioner certification

The ITIL Practitioner course provides lessons on the practical application of the ITIL system. These lessons also teach you how to best apply the principles of ITIL to real-world systems in a job environment. After achieving the ITIL Foundation certification, enrolling in this exam is typically the next step. Completing this course typically provides three credits toward the ITIL Expert certification, so if you plan to complete multiple levels of certification, taking this course can be a smart choice.

Related: Definitive Guide to ITIL KPIs (Including 4 Examples)

ITIL Intermediate certification

This ITIL Intermediate credential is a module-based course that focuses on a variety of different aspects of IT service. You can either complete modules using the Service Lifecycle Stream or ITIL Service Capability Stream. The former focuses on five core ITIL phases and involves a series of three-day courses, while the latter involves five-day courses for specific IT roles. The modules in the Service Capability category are:

  • Operational Support and Analysis

  • Planning, Protection and Optimization

  • Release, Control and Validation

  • Service Offerings and Agreements

To qualify for the ITIL Intermediate certification, you can either choose courses from a single module or combine lessons. It's recommended to have at least two years of experience in IT service management before enrolling in these courses. Afterward, you can receive four more credits toward an ITIL Expert certification.

Related: 51 IT Support Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

ITIL Expert certification

This is an advanced certification that reflects a thorough understanding of the ITIL process. To qualify for this certification, you get at least 17 credits from the Foundation, Practitioner and Intermediate modules. You're also required to pass the "Manage Across the Lifecycle" exam. The information in the ITIL Expert certification course encompasses all the lessons in the previous ITIL modules, and completion of this course is a prerequisite for enrolling in the ITIL Master certification course.

Related: ITSM vs. ITIL (With Definitions and Key Differences)

ITIL Master certification

The ITIL Master certification is the highest-level module in the certification process. Earning the ITIL Master certification shows your ability to apply advanced ITIL frameworks in real-world work environments. Similar to the Expert certification, the master-level courses use information from previous modules as a foundation. A complete understanding of all these concepts is required to earn this certification, but there are also some additional requirements.

Here are the requirements for earning this certification:

  1. Earn the ITIL Expert certification

  2. Gain at least five years of experience using ITIL in a leadership or management position

  3. File at least one proposal for improving IT service

  4. Create a work package that shows how you use the ITIL framework in real-world situations

  5. Demonstrate how your work package positively impacted a business

  6. Interview with an ITIL assessment panel

Related: 11 Information Technology Skills To Help You Succeed

Benefits of earning an ITIL certification

While earning an ITIL certification may not be required to apply for an IT position, completing one of these courses can provide a variety of benefits. Here are some of the potential benefits of earning an ITIL certification:

1. Increased employment opportunities

Some businesses may prefer to work with IT employees who've earned an ITIL certification, so taking one of these courses may increase your employment potential. Earning one can also help distinguish your resume from the applications of other candidates.

2. Higher salary

Employees with ITIL certifications may be in higher demand than uncertified employees, so you may receive higher salary options after completing courses. Learning advanced skills in one of the ITIL certification courses can make you a more desirable candidate overall.

3. Enhanced skill set

Earning an ITIL certification can increase your proficiency as an IT employee. Developing the skills taught in these courses may also make you feel more confident and well-equipped when performing your day-to-day work duties.

4. Flexible education

ITIL certification programs allow you to complete courses at home or online, which can be especially helpful if you have a busy work or school schedule. Taking a course online in your free time can also be an effective way to develop a greater understanding of an IT employee's daily responsibilities.

Related: IT Operations vs. IT Infrastructure: What's the Difference?

Salary and job outlook for IT jobs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for computer and information technology occupations is $97,430 per year, which is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations. The salary for these positions may vary based on your level of experience, qualifications and location. Gaining an ITIL certification may also cause this amount to increase. The BLS predicts a 15% growth rate for these occupations between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than the reported average for other occupations during this time period.

Please note that the company mentioned in this article is not affiliated with Indeed.

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