ITIL Version 3 Foundations (ITIL v3) is a certification for administrators and engineers who want to learn more about enhancing IT service management. If you work for an organization that has adopted ITIL, it would be advantageous to obtain the ITIL v3 certification. This certification is unlike any other certification that is based on a specific technology. The certification is based on the key elements, terminology and concepts used in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).  The ITIL v3 certification will demonstrate to companies and employers that you have a firm understanding of the procedures for good IT management, and the delivery of a service.

There are several levels within the ITIL certification structure, namely, ITIL Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert and Master. Many do not see a need to move past the Foundation certification, based on their job role. A very technical individual with daily highly technical work will not require much beyond Foundations. However, an individual who is seeking a management role, such as a help desk manager or project manager, will gain value in obtaining advanced ITIL certifications.

ITIL Certification Background

The ITIL certification series was created by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), a British government agency, in the early 1980s. ITIL initially consisted of a set of books, each one focused on a specific practice in IT service management. ITIL v3 is the current standard, however, as of February 28, 2019, ITIL v4 will become the standard. There are 5 phases of ITIL v3, they are:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continuous Service Improvement

With the release of ITIL v4, there will be two new phases; ITIL Service Value System (SVS) and Four Dimensions Model. The purpose of these phases is to educate an individual on how to ensure IT service management is at its best within your organization.

Training Available

There is professional training available for ITIL v3, and subsequently ITIL v4.  There are many ITIL Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) which can deliver ITIL training. Usually, the ATO can provide the exam at the end of the training at the location where you take it.  Additionally, there are several options to take the training including self-paced online courses, instructor-led distance learning and instructor-led classroom classes. There are also some non-accredited training courses, including free training on certain sites, however, it is recommended to only take training from an ITIL ATO.  You can find a list of training providers on the official ITIL site. The training is typically two and a half days long and, as previously mentioned, the exam is taken at the end of the course.

ITIL Exam Details

The exam consists of 40 multiple choice examinations questions. In order to pass the exam you must score 26 out of 40 right, or 65%.  The exam is 60 minutes in duration and it is a closed book exam.  It is a proctored exam, and a live person will be in the room with you during testing.

What Next?

If you successfully pass the exam and become ITIL v3 (or v4) Foundations certified, there are additional levels of testing one can take to advance. The next exam you will need to schedule is the ITIL Practitioner exam. If you are not looking to advance within the ITIL certification path, a good direction to go is towards the Certified ScrumMaster certification, which will be covered in a later Cleared & Certified article.

Is it For Me?

In my experience, I was told to get this certification and my company provided in-house training for about 15 of my coworkers. The exam for the certification was taken after the second day, and all of us passed. Although it was one of the easiest exams I have ever taken, the quality of training I received from the ATO is likely a huge factor. If you have bandwidth and time, do the training, and take the exam. Anyone can benefit from understanding how to deliver IT service management more proficiently. If you are in the IT career field, obtaining the ITIL v3 or v4 certification will look good on your resume and provide you with valuable knowledge on how to make the customer experience top notch.

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog ( and listen to his podcast (