The Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, is a framework designed to standardize the planning, implementation and support of IT services in a business environment. Those who work in IT can become certified, to demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge in ITIL standards. There are currently three levels of certification: foundation, intermediate, and expert.


ITIL's origins are linked to the 1982 IBM publication "A Management System for Information Systems," a series of four books that explored various IT and computer issues that soon thereafter were incorporated within the basic framework of ITIL. The United Kingdom agency called the Office of Government Commerce oversees that platform, which is concerned with best practices for managing information technology service. Traditionally, ITIL has three principal goals: to improve IT services, to reduce the cost of IT services and to develop IT services in accordance with business and customer needs.

Foundation Certification

ITIL Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management is the first level of certification. An individual must obtain this certificate before pursuing the subsequent intermediate level of certification. A foundation certificate requires successful completion of an hour-long multiple-choice examination on the ITIL framework and how to implement it. The test contains 40 questions, and at least 26 must be answered correctly for the minimum passing score of 65 percent.

Intermediate Certification

Intermediate certification indicates advanced knowledge of topics in one or both of two modules, Service Capability and Service Lifecycle. Each group contains a series of subtopics with accompanying certificates that candidates can earn, where a greater number demonstrates a wider breadth of knowledge and skill. All of the 90-minute examinations have eight difficult multiple-choice questions, and the certification process requires candidates to pass at least one with a minimum passing score of 70 percent. Approximately 2 years of work experience is also recommended.

Expert Certification

The ITIL Expert in IT Service Management certification is based on a minimum number of 22 credits that candidates acquire during the lower two levels of certification. Two of the credits must come from the foundation level, and the remaining 20 must come from the various certificates in the intermediate level. Some intermediate credits are mandatory, while some are electives. Expert certification is further distinguished by the absence of a required examination.

Master Certification

New to ITIL is the master certification, designed for those who have the expert certification and have worked in a leadership position in IT for at least five years. Documentation and the specific requirements for this certification level is still being developed, however a pilot program has already been completed. Those who wish to advance to the master certification should contact an approved ITIL examination provider for additional information (see Resources).

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