Every ITIL Expert Certification Question Answered

March 9, 2016

Every question you ever wanted to ask about ITIL Expert certification - answered!

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog answering all of your ITIL Foundation questions. Since it was published, it has had hundreds of views, and some of you got in touch to ask for a follow up about the ITIL Expert certification level.

So, here it is – all of your ITIL Expert questions answered. I hope you find it useful, and if you’ve got a question you’d like to add please get in touch or let me know in the comments.

Claire Agutter

What is an ITIL Expert?

You might think if you’ve been working in ITIL for many years that you could call yourself an expert, but how do you get a certificate to prove it? The ITIL Expert certification level is aimed at people who want to show they understand the full ITIL service lifecycle at an advanced level.

This is NOT an easy certification to achieve.

How much does an ITIL Expert get paid? How will it help my career?

According to this research, in the UK an ITIL Expert can expect to earn between £24,000 and £69,000 per year. This may vary depending on where in the world you are located, so a good tip is to search job listings and see if recruiters in your area expect to see ITIL Expert on your resume.

Figures for the global numbers of ITIL Experts haven’t been released for a few years, but they are estimated to be less than 50,000, so it is still a desirable certification to help you stand out in a crowd.

If your ultimate career goal is to be a consultant or senior manager in IT service management, ITIL Expert is likely to be a must have. IT service delivery manager and IT service manager jobs are also likely to have ITIL Expert as a requirement.

Do I need to take a training course to be an ITIL Expert?

There is a big difference between ITIL Foundation and ITIL Expert certification. For the Foundation, you are allowed to self-study. For the training courses that lead to ITIL Expert (known as the Intermediate level), you must take an accredited training course.

Accredited training can be online, in a virtual classroom or in a regular classroom. Remember, if your course isn’t accredited, you won’t be allowed to take the exam.

You can review the full list of accredited training providers here.

What courses/how many courses do I need to take to become an ITIL Expert?

This is short question with a long answer! I’ll give you some basic information here, but you can also read in more detail here.

Firstly, you need to take the ITIL Foundation exam – this is a mandatory starting point. To learn more about how to do this, read my ITIL Foundation article. This is worth 2 ‘credits’ in the ITIL Expert scheme – you need to get 22 credits to come an Expert.

Then, you need to get a minimum of 15 credits from the Intermediate course level. There are 9 courses in this level – 5 courses known as ‘Lifecycle’ courses and 4 courses known as ‘Capability’ courses. A Lifecycle course is worth 3 credits, so you would need to take all 5. A Capability course is worth 4 credits, so taking 4 of those would get you 16 credits.

Lifecycle courses are aimed towards those who will manage or implement ITIL processes. They focus on process goals, measuring process value etc.

Capability courses are aimed towards those who will work with processes on a day to day basis, so there is much more emphasis on process activities.

Finally, you need to take the capstone course, Managing Across the Lifecycle (5 credits). This final course looks at the whole service lifecycle and pulls together the individual areas you have studied at the Intermediate level.

There is also a newly released certification, ITIL Practitioner, which is worth 3 credits towards ITIL Expert. You can use this to replace a Lifecycle course if you wish, or a Capability course as long as you still achieve 15 credits in the middle layer.

Should I choose Lifecycle or Capability courses?

Most of our ITIL Expert delegates here at ITSM Zone choose to study either the Lifecycle or Capability route to Expert. You are, if you wish, allowed to mix and match between the routes. For example, you could take 3 Capability courses and 1 Lifecycle to get your 15 credits. If you need advice about which courses to choose, our helpdesk would be happy to advise you.

What order should I take the courses in?

Many delegates want to know which course to start with first. Some training providers recommend following the lifecycle from Strategy through to Improvement, but we haven’t found that this delivers the best results. We recommend our delegates start with an area of the lifecycle they are familiar with – so for example if you’re a change manager, you might start with Service Transition.

Following this path lets you get accustomed to the study requirements and exam format while studying processes you’re more familiar with, before moving on to areas you have less experience of.

I’ve taken all my Intermediate courses and Managing Across the Lifecycle, how do I get my Expert certificate?

Once you’ve taken all the required courses, you don’t need to do anything. Your examining body will provide the Expert certificate automatically.

Does everyone need to be an Expert?

If you don’t want to be an ITIL Expert, you don’t have to! Many delegates take one Intermediate course, perhaps to improve their performance in their current role or help them move to another role. You will still receive credits, so if you decide to become an Expert in the future this is no problem.

How long does it take to become an ITIL Expert?

Your study time will depend on your motivation and how much free time you have to learn. We have seen a delegate who was between jobs and needed ITIL Expert to get his new job complete all the courses in 3 months, but this isn’t very common! Our Expert training package gives you a year to complete your studies, and for most delegates this is realistic.

What are the exams like?

The ITIL Intermediate exams are very different to the ITIL Foundation exam. Although they are still multiple choice, there are only 8 questions per paper, each question having an associated scenario and a lot of detail. There are four answer options to choose from, one of which is worth 5 marks, one of which is worth three marks, one worth only one mark and one worth zero marks.

As well as your study of ITIL theory, expect to spend a lot of time on your exam technique.

The Managing Across the Lifecycle exam follows a similar format, but also includes a detailed case study. You receive this case study as part of your training course, so you have plenty of time to read and learn in advance.

How much do the exams cost?

The exam cost will vary depending on where and how you take it. The cost may be paid separately, or bundled into your course.

Your training organisation or one of the ITIL examination institutes will be able to give you an up to date price. Prices vary by geographical region.

What happens if I fail an exam?

If you fail an exam, you can re-take it as soon as you feel ready. There is no maximum number of attempts per exam, although hopefully you won’t be re-taking an exam very often! The pass rates for the higher level ITIL exams vary between 65% and 85% so you may find you fail an exam on your journey towards ITIL Expert.

At ITSM Zone, we’ve got a range of Expert packages to suit every delegate – from the full Lifecycle and Capability packages through to ‘top-up’ packages if you already have some ITIL credits. Good luck with your studies!

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