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ITIL 4 Qualifications and the benefits of gaining them

ITIL 4 Qualifications and the benefits of gaining them

ITIL 4 Qualifications and the benefits of gaining them

In this post I will only be discussing ITIL® version 4 qualifications, but if you hold a version 3 Foundation certificate look out for my next blog entitled ITIL® Transition from version 3 to version 4 as it will inform you of how to transition to version 4 without necessarily needing to sit the version 4 Foundation course. 

As you are probably aware, ITIL® is going through some updating.  At present, only the Foundation course has been altered.   There are alterations planned for the higher qualifications later this year (2019), but for now I will outline them as they currently stand with a view to updating you on any changes as and when they are finalised.

So, what qualifications can be obtained in ITIL®4?

ITIL 4 Qualification Chart

Source: Axelos

The new ITIL® version 4 qualifications are comprised of 5 levels or designations, which are as follows:

  • Foundation
  • Specialist Modules
  • Strategist
  • Leader
  • Master

As you can see by this list, ITIL® Practitioner is no longer a stand-alone module.  That is not to say that it has been done away with, however, merely that its’ content has now become an integral part of the new designations. 

ITIL® Foundation Level Certification

There are no pre-requisites for the ITIL® Foundation course as it is designed for beginners.  It is suitable for those involved in the provision, support or delivery of IT services and is designed for anybody seeking to acquire a basic understanding of the ITIL® framework.  This course would be of benefit to those working in a service delivery or service desk capacity, as well as IT professionals who are considering adopting, or have already adopted ITIL®.  Whilst anybody can take this course, it may be difficult for those not already from an IT background to manage in the working environment.

The ITIL® Foundation course provides a general view for establishing an IT service management system and aligning it with business needs and strategy.  It will give candidates a comprehensive understanding of the ITIL® framework and the role it plays in ITSM (IT Service Management). Candidates will learn through practical exercises that will allow familiarisation with the ITIL®4 Guiding Principles, the Service Value Chain and the 4 Dimensions of Service Management that I spoke about in my previous blog ITIL®: History, Evolution and the differences between ITIL® versions 3 and 4.  Every dimension is affected by multiple factors such as economic, environmental, legal, technological, social and political.  The dimensions of service management practices become the focus towards the end of the ITIL®4 Foundation course and give candidates guidance on applying ITIL® practices to all areas of management. 

The Foundation course is a mixture of instructor delivery and candidate input culminating in a multiple-choice examination for the ITIL® 4 Foundation Certificate.   The examination tests the knowledge of basic ITIL® terminology, concepts and principles behind service management.  It is a closed book examination lasting for one hour and consisting of 40 questions.  Candidates will need to spend some time each evening on revision and example examination questions.  The pass mark for this exam is 65% (26 correct answers out of 40). 

At the end of this course candidates will understand the following:

  • Key concepts in the ITIL® 4 framework
  • The 7 guiding principles of ITIL® 4
  • ITIL®4 service value system (SVS)
  • The four dimensions of service management
  • ITIL® service management practices

ITIL® Specialist Modules

As explained earlier, all candidates must start with ITIL® Foundation regardless of which higher qualification you wish to achieve.  Once this qualification has been gained candidates can then work towards either the ITIL® SL (Strategic Leader) or ITIL® MP (Managing Professional) qualifications by completing the specialist or leader modules.  These modules will be released during the second half of 2019.

ITIL® Strategist

ITIL® Strategist is listed in both designations.  This is a core module that is aimed at managers who are involved with the day-to-day strategies and developments of managing a team.  It covers the influence of Agile and Lean methodology and teaches how to leverage them to the best advantage.  Directing, planning and improving team performance is a constant and iterative process, so this module covers both the strategic and practical elements of that process.  It is for this reason that it is a key component of both ITIL® SL and ITIL® MP.

ITIL® Strategic Leader (ITIL® SL)

To take this module, the candidate needs to have a minimum of three years IT managerial experience (as well as ITIL®4 Foundation).  Focusing on the alignment of both digital business and IT strategy, this module also covers the disruption from new technologies and how to respond to them.  Becoming an ITIL® SL, therefore shows that you not only have the professional skills, but also the understanding of how IT influences and directs business strategy.  With digital evolution as fast as it is, adaptation and flexibility within this ever-changing environment is key to providing value to organisations, stakeholders and customers alike.  To become a Strategic Leader, both Direct, Plan & Improve and Digital and IT Strategy modules must be completed.

ITIL® Managing Professional (ITIL® MP)

This module is aimed at those who work within technology and digital teams.  It provides both technical and practical knowledge on how to manage projects, workflows and teams successfully.  In order to gain this qualification candidates must complete all three specialist modules Create, Deliver and Support, Drive Stakeholder Value and High Velocity IT as well as the strategist module Direct, Plan & Improve.


To be eligible for the ITIL® Master qualification you must have completed both ITIL® MP and ITIL® Strategic Leader modules.  As well as this, (as it stands currently) you must have at least five years of IT service management experience before you can apply to become a Master.  If accepted you will need to submit a proposal, a work package and finally attend an interview and with successful completion of all stages you will then achieve ITIL® Master certification. 

So, what are the benefits of gaining ITIL 4 qualifications?

ITIL® is a framework that can be adapted and used by a great many industries such as retail, finance, entertainment, to name but a few.  As more organisations are realising the benefits of ITIL® management, the demand for ITIL® qualified people is on the rise.  As well as this it is a globally recognised qualification (whatever level you achieve) so would allow you not only choice of industry in your career progression, but also the choice of country.  Suffice to say that ITIL® Foundation is 7th on the list of the 15 highest paying IT certificates which shows just how beneficial this qualification is to those who wish to pursue an IT service management career.


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