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On Pursuing the ITIL V3 Intermediate Certification

In my last post I taught you how you can achieve the ITIL V3 Foundation certification by self-study. Unfortunately, earning your ITIL V3 Intermediate credential is a bit trickier. Follow me into the breach...

This is how the good ITIL folks (specifically, the Best Management Practice Partnership) describe the Intermediate level of the ITIL certification program:

There are two streams in the Intermediate level. Both assess an individual's ability to analyze and apply the concepts of ITIL. Candidates are able to take units from either of the Intermediate streams, to gain credits towards the Expert Level.

In fact, this credit-based approach is new to ITIL V3, and marks a dramatic departure to how ITIL V2 worked. The two "streams" of the ITIL Intermediate level are as follows:

  • Intermediate Lifecycle Stream
  • Intermediate Capability Stream

Let's examine each stream in turn, shall we?

Service Lifecycle Stream

Quite frankly, friends, the ITIL literature includes such a plethora of IT service management buzzwords that I'm not even gonna attempt to define 'em (I'll leave that for you to do). If you want to know exactly what "service lifecycle" means, for instance, then I would suggest that you register for an ITIL V3 intermediate class at an ITIL accredited training organization (ATO). :)

Now, then: the Service Lifecycle stream consists of five (5) certificate programs:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement

You can read the syllabi for these five programs by visiting this page. Each of the five certificate programs shares the same core commonalities:

  • they all require that you hold the ITIL V3 Foundation certification as a prerequisite
  • they all require that you have at least 21 contact hours of training before you sit for the exam
  • they all grant you 3 credit hours toward the ITIL V3 Expert-level certification

Service Capability Stream

The Service Capability stream consists of four (4) certificate programs:

  • Operational Support and Analysis
  • Service Offerings and Agreements
  • Release, Control and Validation
  • Planning, Protection and Optimization

The courses in the Service Capability stream share the same attributes as the courses in the Service Lifecycle stream with two exceptions: the Service Capability stream courses mandate 30 contact hours of training per course and grant 4 credits each toward the Expert title.

What's with the Credit System, Anyway?

As you know if you've read my stuff in the past, I pull no punches with regard to sharing my opinion on certification programs. It really and truly gets my goat when IT certification vendors are unclear in the presentation of their programs.

Guess what? This entire ITIL program, in my humble or not-so-humble opinion, is structured in such a way that it is AS CLEAR AS MUD.


Unless I am missing something, you can spend hours, as I have, parsing through the ITIL official Web site trying to determine how and why this credit-based system exists in ITIL V3. After much exhaustive research, I finally found a teeny tiny reference in the ITIL V3 Qualifications Scheme Brochure (PDF direct download link).

After all, if you are like me, you probably have the same questions I do:

  • How many of these Intermediate-level ITIL courses do I have to take to earn my ITIL V3 Intermediate certification?
  • How many credits do I have to amass to earn my ITIL Expert title?

This is what it says on page 11 of the aforementioned PDF:

Each V3 certification has been assigned a numerical credit value. Credit values across all levels can be accumulated to achieve the required minimum twenty two (22) in order for a candidate to achieve the ITIL Expert level achievement certification.

So there you have it. In ITIL V2 the mid-tier credential was called the "Practitioner." Nowadays you can become an ITIL V3 "Lifecycle" specialist and/or a "Capability" specialist if you plan to terminate at the Intermediate level. (Incidentally, the ITIL V3 Foundation exam is worth 2 credits. Yee haw!.)

Have a great day!