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Is My Level of ITIL Better Than Yours?

By | April 11, 2013 in ITIL

I only ask, because the other day I spotted a forum where a keen, recently Foundation-certified person was handed a short sharp rebuke, for asking if he could include the official logo on his résumé to show off his new skill.

His chastiser was a Red-Badge old-salt who brought up the fact that this poor person was one of hundreds of thousands marching out of courses with their new certificate.

ITIL Foundation

Was it Better in the Good Old "Red-Badge" Days?

In ITIL® v2, a red lapel pin was awarded to those candidates who passed the Service Support and Service Delivery exams.

At the time, this was the highest qualification before the introduction of ITIL V3 and very highly rated.

So What Changed?

The ITIL books basically got a bit of a face-lift and were split into 5 books and the exam structure changed.

People still started with Foundation, but perhaps it was deemed to be a little easier to pass.

Let's be honest – Foundation gives you the low-down on the terminology and the basics, and for many is a tick in the box within their organisation to show you can understand the terminology and concepts.

This is no bad thing – it is a good start to have your support teams all singing from the same song sheet, and helps them to understand what your ITIL/ITSM Strategy may be, further down the line.

And I can even forgive the poor unfortunate who, filled with a sense of missionary zeal at entering this august institution, perhaps got a little carried away.

The realities in this scenario were that the ITIL logo is copyrighted property, and as such cannot be displayed by an individual on something like a CV (résumé).

Alas the rudeness of the response took away the small nugget of truth, that experience will trounce qualifications every time.

So What if He Was One of Hundreds and Thousands?

For many people, this is their first step on the path of ITIL and its place in the world of ITSM deployments.

Again, let's be honest – many will just stop at this point, and tick along in their organisations, and that is fine.

There Is No Guarantee of a Better Job with More Certification

This is very true.

I sometimes find myself baffled when I see people on the various LinkedIn discussions celebrating a pass at one of the higher Intermediate exams, and then following it up by asking what they can do with this new certificate/badge?

Is ITIL Going Out of Fashion?

I was asked recently – why do press give ITIL such a bad name? Is it because new cool-kid stuff like DevOps is thumbing its nose at our established processes? Or is it because ITIL is now mature, and established?

The truth is – ITIL Qualifications are still racking up, worldwide. The Cabinet Office recently released the ITIL Marketing Number for all exams sat in January to 2012.

Last year 263,203 people sat the Foundation exam alone – the majority of them in Asia (84,542 - 91% pass rate) and Europe (86,835 - 90% pass rate).

So Why is ITIL Still So Popular?

Let's go back and look at an organisation's point of view.

They invest in some kind of IT Service Management tool, probably initially to support the underlying IT infrastructure that supports their business.

They log incidents, problems, changes and so on, and expect their support teams to be able to support them.

We all know that ITILprovides people with a common terminology.

As tools evolve, ITSM vendors also realise that the products have to offer a depth of customization to talk the language of the business.

At the time I sat my Foundation exam, I had been working on ITSM-related deployments and projects for 6 years.

I understood the concepts, I worked with heads of client’s businesses to translate IT-speak to business speak, but what I lacked was a single sheet of paper to say I knew all that stuff.

Most people who will work directly in an ITSM/ ITIL environment will be put forward for an ITIL Foundation course.

A few may have to take it on their own time, perhaps to try and change their career path.

Some who were unlucky enough to have been made redundant may choose to do so, to try and give their résumé a boost.

What About That Résumé?

Every week I get all manner of job requests from the many agencies I signed up with, offering me jobs that have almost nothing to do with my skills and experience.


Because the automated key word searches trawl through the words I sweated over to make them look just right and picked up the word (and symbol) ITIL.

It would only be when I went to apply for a role that wanted ITIL and PRINCE2®, and knowledge of Agile, and… and … and… that they would know I lacked the all round experience.

How to Rise Above the Crowd

If people choose, or organisations pay, the next logical step is to get a deeper grounding via the Intermediate exams.

Looking at the Intermediate numbers, they are obviously less, but again Europe and Asia lead the way worldwide.

The most popular option is Service Operation, which makes sense – it is probably the most natural progression for those involved in day-to-day IT Service Management.

As I gear up to take my first Intermediate exam – let me offer a retrospective word of advice to the enthusiastic Foundation certificate owner.

Take a look at the industry – browse job sites in your region and look to see how many roles there are for Foundation, versus the higher qualifications.

Then have a good look at the descriptions – is this something you would like to do for a living?

More importantly, look at what you do now.

What can you do with the knowledge you have now to build up that even more important skill of applying all the new stuff you have learned?

Because it is not about the version of ITIL you qualified with, it is how you develop your experience that makes you stand out from the crowd.

ITIL Marketing Numbers for All Exams Sat in January to December 2012

Source: ITIL Marketing Report, Official ITIL Accreditor


Total Number of Candidates 263,203
% Pass Rate 90

ITIL Intermediate by Product

Intermediate – Service Lifecycle Intermediate – Service Capability
Total Number of Candidates 5485 5836 6902 6154 9159 4422 5747 3370 6888 5659
% Pass Rate 83 80 75 83 75 76 76 78 82 66

ITIL Intermediate by Region

Africa C America & WI North America South America Antarctica Asia Europe Oceania
Total Number of Candidates 8521 3158 56,005 14,504 0 84,542 86,835 9556
% Pass Rate 82 80 90 85 91 90 92

ITIL Intermediate by Region (All Modules)

Africa C America & WI North America South America Antarctica Asia Europe Oceania
Total Number of Candidates 2098 395 12,508 1410 0 13,499 27,929 1746
% Pass Rate 66 62 74 72 83 78 79

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Ros Satar

About Ros Satar

Ros Satar started out her life in ITSM tackling Configuration Management head on in 2005. Ros worked as an ITSM Solution Architect and Process Consultant before deciding to combine a career in IT with journalism, now working as a freelance ITSM Analyst and Consultant.

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