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ITIL V3 Certification – are you confused?? You are NOT alone…

For a scheme that has been around for approx. 2 years now, it is pretty sad that there is no increased clarity around the V3 scheme.  Where a few years ago most clients would be confused because of the scheme it self, now it seems that training providers are able to do their own thing..

OK – so what are the confusions:

1. First confusion: From the start there was the confusion on naming of the toplevel program. Initially the top level was called ITIL Diploma but later on this was changed to . Try do a google search on ITIL diploma though… I am sure you’ll come up with approx. 103,000 hits.
For the record – the top level is called ITIL Expert. the Expert certificate is NOT achieved by attending the ITIL Expert course, as there is no such thing. The ITIL Expert certificate is earned by achieving a minimum of 22 credits though either the ITIL V2 + Manager Bridge programs or the programs. I wrote about the different pathways in this post.

2. The second confusion developed around the 1st of May 2009. From this day onwards, APMG released their new ITIL V3 Foundation and ITIL V3 Foundation bridge syllabus and exams. This means that from this day onwards ALL training providers have to adhere to the new syllabus with the amended timelines for Foundation and Foundation Bridge. The biggest change is in the ITIL V3 Foundation Bridge program, as the number of contact hours has increased to 9.5 hours.
This means that the Foundation Bridge program is now a 2-day classroom program (as I can’t imagine people wanting to do this in 1 day… just imagine: 9.5 contact hours + 30 minutes for coffee break in the morning + 30 minuted for coffee break in the afternoon +  1 hour for lunch + 30 minutes for the + some setup time for the … a minimum of 12 hours are required for this course! As an educator, teacher and trainer I know from experience that after 8 hours in the classroom people simply don’t absorb any more information…. your guess is as good as mine when you try to think about the effects on the passrates for the ITIL V3 Foundation Bridge .)

3. Third confusion is on naming conventions again. The courses that follow the ITIL V3 Foundation program are called “the Intermediate Programs”. Within the Intermediate programs there are 2 type of modules: Capability Modules and Lifecycle Modules. This is the naming convention that APMG described in their certification scheme and the associated documentation and illustrations. However, there are a number of course providers who have created their own petnames for these programs. Probably seemed a good idea when the marketing department came up with it… but what it does is completely confuse and frustrate the clients out there.

Example – earlier this week we received an enquiry to do the ITIL Expert pathway and this person was convinced that this was a 4 day bootcamp. When we viewed the link with the course information we could see where the confusion came from.
“ITIL Expert Certificate: Service Operation”- 4 day bootcamp….

This is NOT the ITIL Expert certificate.. this is a 4 day classroom program around Service Operation which will gain you 3 points towards the 22 needed for ITIL Expert certificate.

4. Fourth confusion is on the difference between ITIL V2 qualification and ITIL V3 qualification. This comes down to naming convention again:

ITIL V2 qualification is build up as follows: Foundation certificate, Practitioner certificates (x4), Manager Certificate

ITIL V3 qualification is build up as follows: Foundation certificate, Intermediate certificate (x9), Managing Across the Lifecycle certificate, ITIL Expert.

As both these qualification pathways co-exist, we as training providers have an obligation to separate to two pathways as much as possible to make it easy for our clients to know which type of program they have signed up for.

The whole certification and qualification thing is confusing enough as it is… let’s work together as training providers to shine a clear light so our clients don’t trip along the way.

12 thoughts on “ITIL V3 Certification – are you confused?? You are NOT alone…”

  1. Hi,
    thanks for post. Is it mandatory to have the contact hours for intermediate level? I have 2 questions here:
    1. Is the 21 or 22 contact hours spread across the modules or is it per module; meaning 21 x 5 or 22 x 4?
    2. If contact hours are mandatory, can elearning be considered as contact hours? who is authorized to give that? Can we not just do self study and sit for exam?

    1. Hi Gopal,

      Yes it is mandatory to complete an accredited program for ITIL V3 Intermediate programs. But these contact hours can also be completed through our accredited elearning programs.

      Each Intermediate program must comprise of the minimum number of contact hours;

      Eligibility for LIFECYCLE Examination
      To be eligible for the ITIL Intermediate Qualification: Service Design examination, the candidate shall
      fulfil the following requirements:
      • At least 21 contact hours (hours of instruction, excluding breaks, with an Accredited Training
      Organisation (ATO) or an accredited e-learning solution) for this syllabus, as part of a formal,
      approved training course/scheme
      • There is no minimum requirement but a basic IT literacy and around 2 years IT experience are
      highly desirable
      • Hold the ITIL V3 Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management or ITIL V2 Foundation plus
      the bridging certificate
      • It is also recommended that students should complete at least 21 hours of personal study by
      reviewing the syllabus and the Service Design book in preparation for the examination

      Eligibility for CAPABILITY Examination
      To be eligible for the examination leading to an accredited ITIL Certificate in Service Offerings and
      Agreements, the candidate shall fulfil the following requirements:
      • At least 30 contact hours (hours of instruction, excluding breaks, with an Accredited Training
      Organization (ATO) or an accredited e-learning solution) for this syllabus, as part of a formal,
      approved training course/scheme
      • There is no minimum mandatory requirement but 2 to 4 years professional experience working
      in IT Service Management is highly desirable
      • Hold the ITIL V3 Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management or ITIL V2 Foundation plus
      the bridging certificate
      • It is also recommended that candidates should complete at a minimum 12 hours of personal
      study by reviewing the syllabus and the pertinent areas of the ITIL Service Management
      Practice core guidance

      copied from APMG syllabi for ITIL V3 Intermediate Programs, V4.0 – April 2010

      Enjoy your educational journey Gopal!
      Best Regards,
      Ivanka Menken

  2. Thanks for the update. However, I have 2 more queries:
    1. Is classroom session mandatory for clearing the ITIL V3 Foundation or Foundation Bridge exam?
    2. Where do I get the new syllabus and exam for ITIL V3 Foundation and Foundation Bridge?

    1. It is not mandatory for a student to attend the classroom programs, and The Art of Service is known for their high quality eLearning options.

      From a provider point of view it is not allowed to offer ITIL V2 or ITIL V3 education without the proper accreditation. Delivering courses without the proper accreditation will bring the provider in breach of copyright and trademarks and APMG has been known to fight this successfully.

      You will be able to get the new syllabus and sample exam for the Foundation and Foundation Bridge from your Examination Institute.

      Hope this helps,

  3. What I would like to know is how much in demand are the intermediate and expert certifications? And, how valuable are the certifications if you do not have real world experience using the ITIL processes?

  4. Great post Ivanka, completely agree with all of the points mentioned. The post above does highlight one of the other issues; the use of the term ITIL Master. I believe this is used in the US as a term for the V2 Manager\’s cert but exists as level beyond Expert in V3 which is still to be defined.
    Also, there are more Practitioners in V2 as there are the ISEB individual certs as well as the clusters which you\’ve mentioned.
    The news about the proposed Service Catalogue cert ( will only add to the confusion.

    1. Sorry to burst your bubble Duncan.. the certification is not proposed.. it is launched! Must admit that I was stunned, baffled and gob smacked when I read that press release.

      Does anyone else feel that this is the start of a ‘fly buys’ type of system where the students rake in as many points as possible, irrespective from the type of programs, and redeem it for a certificate?

      And yes – my apologies for missing the individual Practitioner certificates. This is absolutely correct that they qualify and give you 2 points towards your ITIL Expert certificate.

  5. Thank you for the clarification of the 4 confusions. They are real. But I have 1 more confusion: it is on the title: ITIL Expert. Often, companies ask for an ITIL Master. Is it an equivalent of ITIL Expert or another certification?

    1. AFAIK: ITIL Master refers to a planned certification above ITIL Expert, about which so far hardly anything is known. It will probably be roughly equivalant to the ‘ISO/IEC 20000 senior consultant’, which is also not defined yet but on track to be released early next year.

      So right now, there is no ‘ITIL Master’! However, some people refer to their manager’s cerificate in V2 (ITIL V2 service manager) as a ‘master level certification in ITIL’, but that’s their personal way of selling it, not an official name in any way.

      1. Michael,
        Thank you for the clarification and you are absolutely correct in your explanation about the fact that ITIL Master refers to the ITIL V2 Service Manager certificate.
        However, I have a different understanding about the post ITIL Expert certification. In all APMG literature this is referred to as “ITIL Advanced”

        [edit: I stand corrected. I checked the APMG website again and it has been changed… the ITIL Advanced level is renamed to ITIL Master… oooh, it never stops! Have a look at the credit profiler to see how it links together.

        You are quite right in saying that hardly anything is known about it yet… stay tuned – as I will talk about this as soon as I hear more news about the ITIL Advanced qualifications and the requirements. (now called ITIL Master)


    2. Hi Jacqueline,

      Yes – must admit I forgot about this one (probably because we’ve been known to use this marketing term in the past as well…)

      The ITIL Masters title is a marketing name for the ITIL V2 Service Management certificate.
      This certificate is the one you get after sitting 2 three hour exams (one for service support and one for service delivery). The official name for the certificate is ITIL Service Management Certificate. But it is easier to call it ITIL Master.

      This is NOT a university masters degree.. and it is NOT the same as ITIL Expert. It is the way many ITIL training providers promote their ITIL V2 Service Management Certificate programs.

      Hope this helps

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