How ITIL v3 Credits Translate to ITIL 4

Written by David Crouch

Now that some basic information has been released about the ITIL 4 update, you’re probably wondering, “Do my ITIL v3 credits transfer to ITIL 4?” and what path to take if you have some ITIL Intermediate certifications but are not yet an ITIL Expert. Should you even continue taking ITIL v3 classes? The short answer is yes!

ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 Certification Schemes: Major Differences

In the ITIL v3 scheme, a candidate earns two credits for passing ITIL Foundation. The next level includes intermediate classes divided into Lifecycle and Capability tracts. Although there is a certain amount of overlap, Lifecycle classes tend to address the organizational readiness aspects of adopting ITIL; whereas the Capability classes focus more on ITIL processes. Candidates can focus on one tract or mix both Lifecycle and Capability classes. Lifecycle classes earn candidates three credits, and Capability classes earn four credits. ITIL Practitioner deals with how to apply ITIL concepts in the real world and is worth three credits. In order to sit for the capstone exam, Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC), a candidate needs to take some combination of classes and pass the corresponding exams to earn seventeen credits (2 for Foundations plus at least 15 other credits from intermediate classes). Candidates earn five credits once they pass the MALC exam and are then recognized as ITIL Experts. Beyond ITIL Expert, the ITIL Master certification requires no exam but a candidate must demonstrate to Axelos (the company that owns everything ITIL) how they have applied ITIL concepts and improved ITIL processes in real world settings over a period of time. I like to think of ITIL Master as being the “Jedi Knight” of the IT Service Management world. May the force be with you!

ITIL v3 Certification SchemeITIL v3 Certification Scheme

The ITIL 4 scheme looks very different from v3. As with ITIL v3, ITIL 4 begins with an ITIL Foundation class. ITIL 4 also has ITIL Master as the highest level certification. This is where the similarities between the two end. Instead of Lifecycle and Capability tracts, ITIL 4 has the ITIL Managing Professional (MP) and ITIL Strategic Leader (SL) tracts. While little information has been released regarding these tracts or the associated courses, the MP certification “demonstrates practical and technical knowledge for managing IT teams”; whereas the Strategic Leader (SL) path focuses more on higher-level IT leadership. In order to obtain the MP certification, a candidate must pass three IT Specialist courses and one Strategist course. To earn the SL certification, a candidate must take the ITIL Leader class and the ITIL Strategist class. The ITIL v3 Expert certification will be retired. In ITIL 4, the highest level certification is ITIL Master. ITIL Managing Professional and ITIL Strategic Leader certifications are prerequisites for ITIL Master. However, Axelos has not released further details regarding how to become ITIL Master.

ITIL 4 Certification Scheme
ITIL 4 Certification Scheme

Which Certification should I take, ITIL v3 or ITIL 4?

Starting in the third quarter of 2019, all new ITIL candidates will take ITIL 4 certification classes. Between now and then, candidates have several options, depending largely on how many ITIL classes they have already taken. The following scenarios provide advice regardless of where you are on your ITIL journey.

(Note: the advice below is based on the latest information released by Axelos regarding the new certification scheme.)

Scenario 1: I have not taken any ITIL classes.

If you have not taken any ITIL classes at all, you may be tempted to just wait until ITIL 4 is officially released before embarking on the ITIL journey. I advise against this. Having a firm footing in ITIL v3 demonstrates your knowledge of ITIL processes, which are and will continue to be the cornerstone of excellent service management. For the next six months, it makes sense to take ITIL v3 Foundations (and other v3 classes).

Axelos has said that the ITIL 4 Foundation exam will be released in the first quarter of 2019. To ensure that our students are fully prepared for both the ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 environments, BEYOND20 has created a special offering for students registered to take ITIL v3 Foundation prior to the release of ITIL 4 Foundation.

Scenario 2: I have the ITIL v3 Foundation certification but have not taken any intermediate classes.

Axelos anticipates releasing some ITIL 4 Intermediate classes during the second quarter of 2019. A candidate has two options:

Option 1: This is the option I recommend. Instead of waiting for the ITIL 4 intermediate curriculum to become available, it makes sense to take at least a couple of v3 Intermediate classes between now and the first six months of 2019. Although you may still want to take an ITIL 4 Foundation class, your v3 credits will count towards ITIL 4 certification.

Option 2: We anticipate there will be a significant amount of new information in the ITIL 4 Foundation exam. Some candidates will want to take the ITIL 4 Foundation exam prior to taking the new ITIL 4 intermediate classes. One downside to this are that candidates will need to wait until sometime in Q2 2019 when the new Intermediate materials are released. Another drawback is that candidates who choose this path may miss some of the process-rich content inherent in the ITIL v3 intermediate classes. (And let’s face it, from a practical point of view, most of our IT shops are still living in a v3 world, if that.)

Scenario 3: I have passed ITIL Foundation but have fewer than 6 credits of ITIL Intermediate Classes.

Option 1: If you are interested in attaining a high level of ITIL certification, this is the option I recommend. Continue to take ITIL v3 Intermediate classes until you have achieved at least 17 credits. Once you have achieved 17 credits, take the Managing Professional Transition module to become an ITIL Managing Professional.

Option 2: This option is also a possibility if you are interested in pursuing a high level of ITIL certification. Take the ITIL 4 Foundation class, three ITIL 4 Specialist classes and the ITIL 4 Strategist class. This qualifies you to take the ITIL Managing Professional course and exam. While this is a legitimate path, it is a lot like starting over again. Unlike in Option 1, none of your ITIL v3 credits will matriculate to ITIL 4 unless you have already achieved 17 credits.

Option 3: If you are not interested in pursuing a higher level of ITIL certification but are interested in learning more about your area of specialization, you have two potential paths. You could continue to take ITIL v3 Intermediate classes, which take a deep dive into ITIL process and structuring your organization to do a better job of service management. Alternatively, you could wait until the ITIL 4 classes are released and take one or more of the ITIL 4 Specialist classes (entitled, “Create, Deliver, and Support”; “Drive Stakeholder Value”; and “High Velocity IT”) and/or the ITIL Strategist class (“Direct, Plan, and Improve”). Beyond the titles, Axelos has not provided additional information about the focus of each of these modules.

Scenario 4: I have passed ITIL Foundations and have 6 or more credits of ITIL Intermediate Classes.

As with option 1 in scenario 3 above, the best thing to do is to continue to take ITIL v3 Intermediate classes until you have achieved at least 17 credits. Then take the Managing Professional Transition module.

Scenario 5: I am an ITIL expert and want to earn ITIL 4 credentials.

ITIL Experts can simply take the ITIL Managing Professional Transition class once it is released.After passing the MP exam, a candidate can take the ITIL Digital and IT Strategy class to earn the ITIL Strategic Leader certification.Once certified as an MP and SL, a learner can choose to apply for ITIL Master designation.Once again, no details have been released regarding what it takes to earn ITIL Master (other than being an MP and SL are prerequisites).

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Originally published October 10 2018, updated December 12 2019