Project Management

Is ITIL certification worth the time and cost?

The ITIL certification asks a fairly hefty price in terms of time and money (thousands of dollars). Is it worth it?

I got an email the other day from a TechRepublic member who was inquiring as to what was involved in getting ITIL-certified and what the cost would be overall.

You can see the four levels of certification within the V3 scheme by clicking here.

A lot of IT pros wonder whether the cost of ITIL certification is worth what they will get back in terms of career advancement and increased salary. What is the cost? It depends on how you look at it. According to The IT Skeptic, if you're an IT consultant and you factor in your hourly rate (he uses $160 per hour) as lost revenue time, an ITIL certification could cost upwards of $60,000. But if you take online courses, which are less expensive, and don't include your hourly rate, it could run you about $20,000.

The IT Skeptic offers a pretty neat spreadsheet you can use to calculate the possible cost of an ITIL certification. You can access it by clicking here.

I'd also like to hear from those IT pros who are ITIL-certified who can attest to the cost and value of the certification. Was the certification "worth it"?

This post is also available as a download.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

44 comments
exlt
exlt

Would just like to throw my 10c in here. I moved from the UK to NZ about 2 years ago. There is a huge difference in how employers here in NZ value the ITIL Certs compared to the UK. Now this may be because 90% of companies in NZ are less than 10 people in size but ... I've seen the few large companies in NZ advertising for critical IT roles (ie Change & release manager) with the phrase "knowledge of ITIL or a foundation cert would be useful". Think how much damage a poorly planned release or untested change can cause, why are they not demanding Expert cert if the training is so good? My advise, don't spend your money if you think you won't get paid for the training, period. BUT, as the (brilliant) IT Skeptic points out if they are paying, hey it's a no brainer! I should mention I have have an ITIL Expert cert, Masters degree blah blah blah etc etc etc.

akdas23
akdas23

Hi! i read but i did not get anything what it is all about i am final yr computer engg student what about me in terms of ITIL

steve
steve

These days ITIL Foundation is necessary to work for big companies because all of the big problem, indcident and change management tools are aligned with it, and knowing the lingo and the ideas behind it all allows one to make sense of the tools. However configuation management seems to be a micro-managers dream, and in many cases the ITIL processes are mindlessly applied to slow down change cycles and allow spineless managers to cover their a**ses. The other issue for me is that I doubt I could stay awake for any of the advanced stuff. It bores me to tears. I only managed the foundation training with a lot of strong coffee and too many mints. YMMV.

ronaldwwoods
ronaldwwoods

The ITIL certifications are like any of the process certifications (PMP, COBIT, LSS, etc.), they show that you have made the effort to validate your training and experience in a specific IT or process area. US IT government contracts do not yet require ITIL certification for contractors or ISO20000 certification of the company, but if you do not have them you will not be competitive.

Rnjith
Rnjith

Hi, I am working on Telcome project for past 3 years in an MNC. How ITIL is going to benefit me. Please suggest. Regards Ranjith

Ted.xiong
Ted.xiong

I don't think it is worth the time and cost for most of us. Our campany is using the ITIL web management software, but users wound't like fill the request or problem instead of phone call, so IT have not only to fix malfunction, but also input case record in the ITIL system, double the work load; and campany have to add some extra positions to maintain this system and ITIL change process, furthermore some site prefer to their used way before. But for the person who want change from IT technical role to the management role, the ITIL maybe a rapid key to IT management.

Observant
Observant

I have a Masters in CIS, am a PMP, MCSE, MCP+I, CM, A+, NET+, CWNA, and CVE.... Some of you may say "Paper Tiger" but I worked for every one of them. The problem is, I took the training and content seriously. Most employers don't. They just plop some sort of alphabet soup in a job description hoping to weed out too many responses. As a PMP, I will not (repeat NOT) work on many projects because I see the company only wants to put the letters on correspondence as a way of influencing customers/vendors. The organization (many of them, actually) have no intention of listening to the disciplines necessary that a PMP could bring to the table let alone actually let a person use them....Hence, the reason most projects are 60% over budget and/or cost, and/or schedule. The same applies to other certs as well. I also work with a network crew. The guys are Cisco'd up the wazoo yet when one of them plugged a switch into itself 24 times and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working, I knew he was so "heavenly" concious that he was no "earthly" good. He said "I just found the network cables on the floor and plugged them in!" ... At least Barney Fife never pointed his one bullet at his own face! I may eventually pursue the ITIL, if nothing more than to remove another HR obtstacle, however, I very seriously doubt that the company that requires it, abides by it.

Englebert
Englebert

If you have the ask the question, then the answer is obvious. No, it's not.

ting_noya
ting_noya

My ITIL Certifications were gained through company sponsored training initiatives; hence, I could say that it was worth it as I've only allocated time (which was paid by the company still as they've sent me for the training/certification). I guess, every knowledge gained is always worth the time and cost as long as you know how to utilize it and capitalize on it.

c.walters
c.walters

In general I think that all degrees and certifications give a basic understanding of what a person knows. Add experience to this and you can somewhat forecast what a person with this knowledge and experience can do for your organization. Human resource managers/ Project Managers will hire certified professionals with experience quicker then the onces with no certification. If you can afford it spend the money, because it will pay back in the end.

spacecdt
spacecdt

I achieved my ITIL v.3 basic in October last year. I presently work for a post-secondary institution that is just at its infancy when it comes to integrating business practice and IT methodology. So, with that in mind, and the fact I have little support from management, I would have to say my ITIL is rather useless here. However, in the private sector here in Canada, ITIL v.3 is quite important. Also, I'm not sure where you get your figures from, as I took a 4 day boot camp for Basic and passed for under $2k Canadian.

gmccall
gmccall

Gee, another Cert...! I say if this new Certification is going to cost me $20,000 I better get a an undergraduate degreee with a diploma. I have been in I.T. for 29 years, have a BSBA, an ASBA, an Associate in Applied Science/Computer Forensics, and am A+ Hardware and Software Cerified... and I still am only a Helpdesk Supervisor making an average wage. Point here for me is, maybe I could have pushed a lot harder, but all ths education did not open many doors for me. It's all about who you know, your work ethic, and the proven experience that get's you hired. I've done things I'm quite proud of, but I don't want to rule the department any more. I know folks who only have a two year degree from a Community College in PC Management making good money as a Network Tech -- all "OJT". All this esoteric education is beginning to sound a lot like all it does is make money for the Certification industry... with the exception of a couple good Certs like A+ and Network Engineer certs. No more wasted money on pie-in-the-sky certifications for me! Gotta go, the phone's ringing off the hook - I got servers down... Mac

shawn.chambers
shawn.chambers

http://www.ITILTrainingzone.com offers all the classes needed for ITIL certifications. They are much cheaper and contain the same information as the expensive classes. I am using them myself for the ITIL Expert certification and saved a ton of money! The online format is well done and study guides are provided with the classes. Tests can also be taken online. I am about halfway through the V3 Foundation course now, which is a prerequisite to the ITIL Expert classes.

pongraphan
pongraphan

I think you bring up a very good point. The Certification time/cost vs lost revenue. It all depends if you're constantly billing hours. Most consultants do have time between projects, this is where you might be able to perform your online certification training.

smithjoh
smithjoh

I have an ITIL certification as well as a masters in computer science and after doing the courses they seemed just to confuse issues and the structuring of the exam is very poor. It is designed for multi million pound companies with a manager and a deputy manager in all departments because the structuring used is only set out in the exams for this scenario, the structuring of most companies would not be able to use ITIL to it's fullest because they do not have the infrastructure so personally I think it is just another thing that someone has got companies thinking they need to have their staff qualified in this crap and just out to make money for an over rated product.

steve.lawless
steve.lawless

Toni, in the UK, ITIL certification is a must, 70%+ of IT departments use the ITIL framework to push efficiencies within their organisations, and it is increasingly being adopted worldwide. Personally I have been using the framework for over 16 years and teaching it for 9 years now, so I am passionate about ITIL. At the end of the day though it is only a tool, and as the old saying goes ?A fool with a tool, is still a fool?. ITIL is not prescriptive, it promotes adoption and adaption of good practices. If anyone wants details of our classroom based training or our self paced e-learning it is all available on our website at www.purplegriffon.com or email us on sales@purplegriffon or phone 0044 (0) 1539 736828 (UK hours). We deliver training in all corners of the globe. Regards Steve

mrmhead
mrmhead

I considered certification. But the current business/economic environment was prohibitive. Plus there would be no direct benefit to me from a cert in the foreseeable future. However, I still considered the information applicable to my position - so I picked up a book and dug in.

jan
jan

I have the ITIL v2 Service Manager and the v3 Expert certifications. These certifications have been well worth the time and cost for me, because I am an ITIL consultant. If you don't make ITIL more or less the core of your competency, then the time and cost are prohibitive.

RandyMichael
RandyMichael

This article uses Version 2 ITIL certification and V2 costs...If you are going to write an article that is worth reading, please do your homework and use the latest version...V2 was replaced over 2 years ago... Useless. Randy Michael

RoseJM1884
RoseJM1884

Govt contracting by nature is chaotic and disparate. Contracting officials are now requiring key members of the awarded contract team to have PMP certs. Although a cert does not guarantee that contract runs smoothly, it does provide a baseline for contractors to follow. PMPs in govt contracts were a "nice to have" just a few years ago; now they are mandatory for key positions. ITIL will likely follow a similar path...

skerriga
skerriga

It sounds like your company have put in a system that is not given an appropriate ROI. Its possible whomever made that decision did so without the numbers or that you may not see the value of the system from your perspective as senior management make use of the numbers?

adeintown
adeintown

certifications comes out with new intentions and curriculum all is to check out an employee's capability and though the main thing that the company is concerned about is your competency even after you had your certification .. i do think the ITIL cert is worth it simply because of what i have read both in IT skeptic and some other sites ... and now thinking on pursueing it too ... what do you think ???

The IT Skeptic
The IT Skeptic

Where the figures came from? Read the spreadsheet. ITIL Expert is a lot more training than your Foundation, and the spreadsheet takes into account lost revenue for the consultants who are the target market for ITIL Expert.

anjorinjnr
anjorinjnr

I know someone with a Msc Human Resource Management, presently working in the UK and also considering a project management career. He is not really an IT person, but he is about to take the ITIL Foundation exam. Is it reasonable?

The IT Skeptic
The IT Skeptic

yes feel free to cost it as you see it, discounting your time because of down-time. Hence the spreadsheet. My "down-time" is still worth a lot to me. it isn't free. The bottom line (pun intended) is that you pay for the certs if (a) there is an ROI for you in so doing or (b) your boss is paying. I had a rough 2009 but it wasn't because of lack of ITIL certs. I'm back to getting enough work now, much of it around ITIL (I'm doing a Service Catalogue Roadmap for a big govt department right now). In 2009 I did decide my downtime was worth spending on getting the ITIL V3 Foundation. I have no plans to go any further. My CV gets me work, not some debased and cynical ticket.

Tom-Tech
Tom-Tech

The reason the exam has seperate individuals as the Change Manager, Availability Manager etc is it makes the questions easier to comprehend. Where I work multiple roles are taken on by individual members of staff, and we don't implement ITIL in all areas of the department as we've not had problems in all of them.

eye.tea
eye.tea

I thought Tech Republic had rules against that? ITIL enriches you personally because you sell training for it. This isn't to say ITIL has no value, just to say that your opinion must be discounted due to your obvious bias.

Kgottleib
Kgottleib

Sorry, for any of us who have been in this business for a long time with solid operations experience can tell you that the majority of this stuff is nothing more than common practice and common sense that have been developed by IT shops over time and is now put together in a pretty package geared at generating income for, well, who do you think? and the managers that need this framework and buy into it, in my opinion, aren't experienced enough to be wearing the shoes they are wearing and should try spending more time in the trenches actually learning hands on. At one time in my career I worked for an Inurance giant that was so conservative with its systems it was counter productive. Over time management learned and gained confidence in what its team could and couldn't do without shaking up the business and risking outages. To a point, ITIL is good in that it defines and creates a solid operational model for those that simply have't figured out things on their own; certainly there are still a lot of IT cowboys that shoot first and ask questions later, and I will add that they will never advance until they figure out that they need to do their homework before they jump in head first. However, ITIL itself shouldn't be a hard fast way for any organization to do business, there are times when deviation is needed, and only experienced guys who know this business can make those decisions. ITIL can't and never will replace the knowledge I have accumulated having been in IT for 15 years now. If you adopt it in its entirely and follow it to the letter, you run the risk of making your shop less versatile, adaptive, and responsive than what it could be.

The IT Skeptic
The IT Skeptic

A little knowledge is of course a dangerous thing. The ITIL Wizard http://www.itskeptic.org/wizard is a spoof advice column based on some of the appalling advice or terrifying questions one finds all over the Web. please folks, if you need ITIL expertise, hire an ITIL expert. But an ITIL Expert is not an ITIL expert. Just because they have the certificate means they spent the money, no more. Experience and most of all proven results count for a lot more.

QAonCall
QAonCall

Are you a process engineering, or do you simply do only ITIL implementations? How much of your work involves tool deployments vice process engineeering and audit/complaince type work? Thanks

Rnjith
Rnjith

Yes i am working in MNC and i am involved in Telecom Project. If i like to do ITIL how is it going to benefit me

Observant
Observant

You make a good point about the company being concerned about competency. They had better be. The disconnect comes when someone in the hiring chain (this could be the hiring manager, HR, Senior Mgmt, or the working slug who was asked to write his own job description so they could use it to post for new staff) decides to try a little name dropping and say "must have 12 years exp as MCSE, CCNA, CCISP, PMP, SIX SIGMA, C++, Java, Linux, Macintosh, Lotus Notes, Open View, Rational Rose, RUP, Agile, Extreme, Crystal Reports, SQL, MySQL, Oracle, Prince2, ITIL, WEB Development, ASP, etc. then add that it would be helpful to be fluent in Klingon!!!! It is SOOOOO rare that employers do a serious job task analysis and take a real hard look at what is being done versus what they are asking for. I would be willing to bet that 90% of the skillset for any of the above mentioned certs are not being used by the organizations that list them. As a case in point, one employer I know asked me if I knew Ghost and Exchange (which I do). My friends that got jobs there have never touched Ghost (it's not even used), and they don't even have access to A.D. to change a password let alone drill down into Exchange. ... They will never work with it. In the end, I think the Certs can be worth it (especially newer types such as Six Sigma and ITIL since Microsoft seems to be pooping out stuff just to flood the market and garner more $$ out of training and certs). ... And in retrospect, If I were to do everything the MCSE and an organization said they needed, I would want a LOT more than a pawltry 80K (or even 100K) for 75-80 hour work weeks! For these certs, the skillset is much too broad, the proposed workload too intense, the rewards much too little, and it's very typical to be asked to do something that violates the ethics of the respective code of conduct we usually sign as a condition of obtaining the cert to begin with. Again, I revert back to my PMP. I've been asked to run projects for people who wouldn't know a Gannt chart if it slapped them in the face let alone the real value of PERT, or Earned Value. Whatever cert you have (or wish to obtain) look at it like this: Using the skills properly is expensive (in time and money) but consider it the "Price of Success". Requiring them for a job and ignoring their contribution is "Cost of Failure."

2WiReD
2WiReD

It would probably money better spent if he spent it on a project management qualification like Prince2 or something instead.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

In this case, Steve's post is an on-topic response to an existing active discussion of ITIL certification. He didn't start a brand new discussion advertising his services, append his comments to a discussion that has been inactive for months or years, or insert his comments into an unrelated discussion.

mrmhead
mrmhead

I agree that most of it looks to be common sense and logic - and that it packages it all together, providing links and common terms (event, incident, problem ...) across the differing areas. That's why I like it and use it as a REFERENCE "If you adopt it in its entirety and follow it to the letter" ... then it is not being applied in the manner it was meant.

polarstorm
polarstorm

just wanted to give a thumbs up on this comment.

rackerman
rackerman

Of all the responses to this discussion, and all the advice; The IT Skeptic has it right. "Experience and most of all proven results count for a lot more" There is no other response!

The IT Skeptic
The IT Skeptic

There was a similar question on LinkedIn, may even be the same person. For a non-IT person going into project management, obviously they need Pm qualification. But they also need to talk the IT talk and ITIl is good general knowledge. it is not complete but it is more chatty, more narrative, then other bodies of knowledge. it makes a good introduction to IT. Maybe they don't need the cert but they should at least read some ITIL.

anjorinjnr
anjorinjnr

yeah, thanks. I thought as much too 'cus ITIL will be of little use without some technical IT skills. I will advise him.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

the membership has long had a problem tolerating unsolicited advertising. Yes, there is advertising on this site. The HUGE difference is the advertising on the site pays the bills so the membership can enjoy the site for free. Unsolicited advertising via forum posts does not contribute to the site's income, may compete with paying advertisers' products, and therefore has no tolerable value. Commercial links relevant to the subject under discussion don't qualify as 'unsolicited'. eye-tea was mistaken is his classification of your message.

steve.lawless
steve.lawless

Hi Guys, I didn't realize that you couldn't put contact details in a post. I am biased towards ITIL, but I was before I had any commercial interest in it. As for advertising....look to the right...Tech Republic is a commercial organisation, even if it says it isn't. Even not for profit organisations have to raise revenue. My local hospital (a public one) charges for car parking. Unless you want to live in a communist state get used to marketing, its only going to increase. Having said that I will not log any further comments with commercial links. Regards Steve

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