Should you spend the money on ITIL V3 certification?
There is a distinction between education and certification. If you want to learn about ITIL you can do that in several ways. If you want a certificate to say you have studied ITIL, is it worth it?
You can learn about ITIL in several ways:
- Just by reading. You can build a good library for very little investment
- Using online courses
- Going to OGC-approved ITIL classes
- Studying something related like ISO20000 or COBIT
- Doing tertiary study in IT Operations or Service Management which these days often includes ITIL
- Actually doing it - being involved in one or more ITIL transformation projects
But learning about ITIL seems to be a secondary interest for those going to class. Traffic to this blog and readings on the forums indicate people are interested in that little bit of paper (and lapel pin): the OGC ITIL certification.
It costs. You can do a Foundation exam without paying for prior training, but once you get past Foundation levle the training is compulsory and the costs rapidly mount. When times were good people paid. Times aren't so good now - is it worth the money?
If your boss is paying then it almost certainly is worth it. Exit here.
If you are paying then we look at why. A small number of eccentrics will do the certification for their own satisfaction but almost all will do it to get work, either permanent work or contracting.
In the context of prospective employers and/or clients:
- some will blindly insist you be "current" i.e. they want to see V3 certifications
- some won't know the difference between V2 and V3, or even that there are two versions. An ITIL certification is a certification
- some will be wise enough to care more about experience than certifications. If you are a stranger then certification still helps. If you are introduced through word of mouth then less so.
I reckon the three groups are about equal size. So most of the time the piece of paper helps, but if you already have V2 certifications don't rush into getting V3 too without more thought.
But that is a generalisation across all candidates. What about you personally? Rank yourself on these questions:
- How well can you sell yourself? Do you need the help of OGC?
- How strong is your experience with ITIL? I don't think ITIL certification on its own proves enough to a potential employer: a few days training and a multi-choice exam? It just tells me you can talk the talk, not walk the walk.
- How strong is your experience in IT Operations in general? ITIL isn't magic, it isn't a mysterious art, it is just IT common sense.
- How strong a candidate are you overall? Knowledge of ITSM is only one aspect of any job
- How good is your network? Do you have a good reputation?
If you rank strongly in three or four of those, then you can probably get the work anyway without certification. If you've got the thousands to invest, then you'll probably get your money back and more in "additional" work but most of the time you won't know whether you would have won the work/job anyway. Before you spend one or more months' income on ITIL certifications (remember to factor in lost revenue etc in the total cost), consider whether there are better uses of the money. For example, you might be able to do a broader tertiary IT course for about the same money, and come out with a more substantial qualification at the end.
Me? My boss paid for my ITIL V2 Foundation years ago. I have no other ITIL certifications. I worked happily in ITIL consulting for over two years. lately I'm starving but that is because there is very little work around at all. Will I lose out against the ITIL Managers and Experts when there is some work? Sure I will. Often enough to make it worth investing the price of a car to get one? No. Not for me.