Editor's Note: An updated version of this post with information from 2017 can be found here.
As the technology industry has advanced, the professional certification industry has grown alongside it. The Global Knowledge 2016 IT Skills and Salary Report revealed that Cisco, Microsoft, IT service management, ITIL® and security certifications are the most lucrative to obtain.
ITIL came in at 11 percent above the salary norm for certified respondents. It is comprised of IT best practices that describe common approaches that organizations can apply to day-to-day activities. Its overall objective is to align the services IT provides with the needs of the organization. Professionals who have ITIL and IT service management (ITSM) certifications average a salary of $98,212.
How to Get High-Earning ITIL Certifications
The ITIL certification program consists of 13 certifications that attest to the holder's knowledge – from a baseline level of understanding – to a deeper, more robust knowledge set indicating overall mastery. View the ITIL certification roadmap.
Step 1: ITIL Foundation
In an ITIL certification program, the first certification that you earn is ITIL Foundation. It’s an entry-level certification that indicates individuals have general familiarity with ITIL terminology and processes. ITIL Foundation is just that, foundational, and it is intended to set the stage for higher-level ITIL certifications.
Step 2 (Option A): ITIL Practitioner
The newest ITIL certification available is ITIL Practitioner. It builds on the introductory knowledge gained in ITIL Foundation to help adopt and adapt the framework to meet the needs of your organization.
Step 2 (Option B): ITIL Intermediate Certifications
Following the foundational exam, nine unique ITIL Intermediate certifications are available to take a deeper dive into the five ITIL knowledge areas. The intermediate certifications are divided into two paths: lifecycle and capability. Intermediate lifecycle courses are intended for non-practitioners and managers to learn how to implement ITIL from a high-level perspective. Intermediate capability courses are better suited for practitioners who are responsible for hands-on implementation.
Step 3: ITIL Expert
Candidates who earn the ITIL Foundation certificate plus 17 credits gained from other ITIL certifications are eligible to take the class, Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC). MALC, like the intermediate certifications, requires that the individual pass a challenging exam. The ITIL Expert credential indicates that the person has a strong understanding of the ITIL best practices and how they're used to help organizations.
Step 4: ITIL Master
In order to achieve ITIL Master, the individual is required to describe and defend real-life projects they have completed using ITIL best practices. You must already hold the ITIL Expert certification, and have at least five years of experience in high-ranking IT service management positions.
What’s the Value of Achieving ITIL Certifications?
The average salary for ITIL-certified professionals ranges from $92,000 in Mountain markets such as Albuquerque, Colorado Springs and Casper to $105,842 in Pacific markets such as San Diego and Portland.
More than 90 percent of respondents in the category of IT service management obtained ITIL Foundation, which has an average salary exceeding $98,000. The range for the category is not as high as others, though salaries for several of the more advanced certifications such as ITIL Service Lifecycle: Service Operation and ITIL Service Lifecycle: Service Transition exceed $117,000 on average.
No doubt we all like money, but beyond that, ITIL certifications hold noteworthy value for both individuals and employers. ITIL benefits are universal and can be put to use across industries and work environments. The value to the organization includes ensuring that services align to and meet the needs of the business, helping to manage risk and service disruption or failure, and offering a stable environment to support business changes.
ITIL pairs well with related methodologies that organizations often employ like Enterprise Architecture and Project Management. These process-driven frameworks work in tandem providing structure around IT infrastructure to deliver predictable, repeatable results.
If you are looking to adopt ITIL into your organization and are unsure of where to begin, view this complementary white paper to help you get started, “ITIL Implementation: Where to Begin.”
Note: The data from this blog came from the Global Knowledge 2016 IT Skills and Salary Report.