ITIL Certification: Why You Need It, How To Get It

By Michael Gabriel Sumastre | Last updated: May 2, 2018
Key Takeaways

ITIL focuses on the basics that matter to business: how to improve IT services, increase productivity and cut costs. That makes it a good bet for IT professionals.

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Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a framework for best practices in IT service management, and a good one at that. It's recognized all over the world as one of the key certifications for IT professionals. Plus, it's one of the highest paying IT certifications out there. That's because ITIL focuses on the basics that matter to business: how to improve IT services, increase productivity and cut costs. Want to boost your professional resume? Here's how to add ITIL certification to your job-hunting arsenal.


Why ITIL Matters

ITIL ensures that an IT professional knows the best practices and the best solutions in any IT service management situation. ITIL's framework helps improve IT operations no matter where the organization is in the service management life cycle, and it helps businesses by reducing costs while also improving IT services. What's more, a lot of organizations and professionals view ITIL as a sort of common language or model, which makes its related skills more transferable between organizations. (To learn about other certifications, see 6 Top Tech Certifications to Fit Your Every Need.)

Those in IT financial management, continuity management, availability and capacity management, service-level management, and service desks stand to get the most out of ITIL training and certification. Thousands of companies all around the world – including some of the world's largest technology companies – even have this certification as a requirement.


ITIL Certification Guide

If you're interested in pursuing the ITIL certification, there are a few things you should know.

1. The Basics

ITILv3 has five different certification levels:

  • ITIL Foundation
  • ITIL Intermediate Level
  • ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle
  • ITIL Expert Level
  • ITIL Master Qualification

The most popular of these is the ITIL Foundation certification, which is the first step to all further ITIL certifications. While a foundation-level certification is usually enough, those who are looking for higher and managerial positions would do well to get both an intermediate-level and expert-level certification.


For foundation-level certification, it is recommended that you have 16.25 hours of instruction with an accredited training organization (ATO) or any accredited institution.

2. The Test

The test itself has 40 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 60 minutes. If you are answering in a language that is not your native language, you can use a dictionary and have 75 minutes to complete the exam. This supervised test has a 65 percent pass rate.

The ITIL Expert in IT Service Management certification is finally obtained by accumulating credits via the earlier levels. The Master level may be achieved through five years of on-the-job experience in leadership, managerial or higher management roles.

Clearly, studying for all levels at once is impossible. Keep it simple by preparing yourself for the examination that you are taking. ITIL generally involves intensive study and tough exams as well as work experience, so if you're looking to take the higher levels of ITIL, it's best to approach them one by one. (You can find out more details about each test at the ITIL's official website.)

3. Study Guides

ITIL consists of five volumes covering specific practices of IT service management. If these have you dumbfounded, you might need study guides to help you narrow down what you need to know to pass the exam you're taking. There are many online resources and training courses that can help you prepare.

That said, be aware that there are a lot of providers offering study guides and training courses that are as expensive as the examinations themselves, if not more so. If it's in your budget, these can be good resources, but there are also free resources online. All you need to do is search for them.

Similarly, official ITIL publications are expensive, but less-expensive books are available from other providers. These books can be helpful, but the quality of these resources varies widely.

4. Preparation and Practice

Search online for practice exams. These are often free and you can do as many exams as you want. Not only will you get a feel for what types of questions will appear on the actual exam, but you will also learn how to answer them. This will help you pace yourself in the actual exam and help you become familiar with the multiple-choice format that the ITIL exam uses.

While taking practice exams, take note of the kind of multiple-choice questions that are included in the exam and find out the best way to answer them. Do not leave a question blank – ITIL does not penalize wrong answers.

Getting ITIL Certified

ITIL may include an exhaustive set of guidelines, how-to's and best practices in its framework, but if you have been working as an IT professional for quite some time, you are probably already familiar with these principles. Nevertheless, despite all the tips, tricks and tidbits about ITIL online, nothing can guarantee a passing grade beyond sitting down and studying hard for the test.


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Michael Gabriel Sumastre is a skilled technical blogger and writer with more than seven years of professional experience in Web content creation, SEO and research paper writing. He has written more than a thousand articles related to tech and gadgets, cloud computing, IT management, SEO, SEM and software solutions. He ghostwrites books / e-books and has a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. Michael is also an expert in webmastering and loves to ride his sportsbike. 

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