ITIL V3 Master certification announced

APMG have annnounced the ITIL Master certification.

For those who came in late, ITIL Master is the long-awaited fourth layer of the ITIL V3 certification scheme, higher than ITIL Expert and no relation to the ITIL V2 Manager which was sometimes called ITIL Master.

They say the new certification is aimed at project managers [in an email we've seen from APMG], senior consultants, senior practitioners, IT high-level managers and CIOs, and that the focus is on the application of knowledge in real life.

"Testing is performed by assessing a written submission describing real-world assignments, augmented by oral examination." I was hoping they wouldn't be testing it with multiple-choice, but then I never thought I'd see the day when ITIL Expert was multi-choice either. Just imagine: "In the real world, do CIOs show executive suport by (a)..."

So you basically propose a real-life case study of what you have done and if accepted you write it up and get interviewed on it. Presumably the interview panel will be the usual suspects from Castle ITIL.

Candidates must be ITIL Expert and have five years service management experience. No indication of costs. More information "early in 2010".

This is a very practical certification. It says you've done it. But you still have to go through the huge expense of ITIL Expert first, so I for one won't be going for it. Hopefully we'll see other ITSM certifications emerge that aren't so monopolistic about how they feed the ITIL training club. The itSMFUSA's prISM recognises other qualifications besides ITIL ones.

Incidentally the fact that it is just now being announced obviously hasn't prevented folk from putting it on their CV, according to

The ITIL v3 certification - the ITIL Master - came in 7th on the list of the highest paying technical certifications. The average annual salary for ITIL Master certification holders was $86,600.

If APMG continue to fail to provide any central international register of all certifications we'll all be able to do that too.


Industrious idiot

When I first got into a management position long time ago, somebody gave me the good advice that the worst employee type was the industrious idiot who can do a lot of damage if not watched constantly.

Now a person who manages to work through all the ITIL V3 certification courses cannot have much critical attitude, the gullibility factor must be quite high. A reasonably bright person would see the errors and stop after the third course at latest. On the other hand the person has proved to have a lot of energy to push through all that boring stuff.

So my recommendation is, never hire an ITIL V3 Master. At least not from current edition.


I've done the v3 Expert cert

I've done the v3 Expert cert via the v2 foundation, manager and then v3 mgrs bridge (the cheaper, quicker & "easier" way).

I am going to be really interested how trainers will gain this certification. Impossible really. Since by & large they just preach the theory and what one needs to know to pass the multiguess exams. Consultants will be interesting too, given that many of them tend to bungy-jump in and out of clients but seldom in it for the long haul (3-5 years), so I wonder how they'll be able to write up a true story.

The thing that worries me is whether it becomes a "boys club" certifying your mate then rinse, repeat.

But overall, I think that this is a big improvement on the v3 Mgrs bridge.

Lastly, and a bit off topic, I wonder whether you learn as much from a professional academic in doing your Masters Degree as you might learn being immersed in a year of organisational transformation, which is what aligning to (at least some of) the framework could be seen to be. My dear old Dad once said - "that's the problem with Academics - they've never left school..." Back in the day, I could never accept that most of my Uni assignments were essentially an academic squabble between various references/points of view.

Horses for courses

When I observe how much trouble APMG had to edit some decent exams (let alone in other languages than english) how on earth could I have confidence in them setting an ITIL Master standard. As I've said before: they should team up with institutions who know how to handle degrees like that. Yes indeed: the academic world! In the current educational climat where competence based learning and assessing become common they at least have experience in assessing people. Otherwise it could indeed end up as an old boys network.

But then.....who would want to become an ITIL master? Consultants? Trainers?

Trainers would of course because that could distinguish them from the growing amount of ITIL(_exam_passing_)Experts. The fact that you're an ITIL expert by having done the complete V3 track merely proves that you are good in exam techniques. But then most trainers cannot because you have to bring in a consultancy project and many trainers are merely busy earning a living doing training. Of course I agree with everyone who states that a trainer should absolutely have experience in the field. It helsp me still every day though I'm beginning to feel the need to refresh my "real world experience"

Consultants are perhaps not willing to pass the complete list of ITIL V3 intermediates just to become ITIL Expert to be eligible for ITIL Master. Those who can do it via the V2 Service Manager + bridge route might have an advantage.


Do other countries have the equivelant of the British NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) scheme, whioch combines academic and practical work? I'm guessing the current ITIL expert would probably equate to an NVQ level 4. IIRC level 4 is a broad category and the master qualificatio might struggle to differentiate itself as level 5

Interesting question about who the target audience is for these qualifications as well.

Personally I'm still struggling to justify the time and investment to do my v3 Manager's bridge, and then there is COBIT and ISO 20000 training to think about as well.

And where does this put the Institute of Service Management?

The Masters exam will be of benefit to the consulting industry

The Masters exam will be of benefit to the consulting industry who own ITIL, to be able to certify their own staff, making them easier to sell.

It is of little interest to the other 990,000 ITIL practitioners.

I wonder if they will have a grandfathering clause for all the old boys' club?

More cynical than the skeptic

Hmm, I know at least one major consultancy than manages to give the impression they have a team of ITIL experts when almost all of them are only trained to Foundation level. I can't see the consultancies taking the hit of training everyoine up to this level.


Well .... vaporware is sold everywhere. Some trainers are just one page ahead of their students (so was the famous composer Sibelius if I recall my lessons in Music well). Most consultants apply learning by doing don't they. A sensable consultancy firm would send in juniors coached by seniors to learn on the spot without disadvantaging the customer.

FYI. Programs of acknowledgement of earlier acquired competences are emerging in the Netherlands as well as in France. Most universities in The Netherlands use them as marketing instruments for the acquisition of students for their top-studie programmes (like "get your academic master in one year using your already acquainted competences").

arts degree

Ah, that would be an arts degree :)

Science, but majoring in

Science, but majoring in Psychology so close enough :-)

How did I get into IT again?

"ITIL Master" Does Not Mean "ITIL Master"

I think that reference to "ITIL Master" being the 7th most highly paid IT certification is probably a reference to the "ITIL Service Manager", Skep. After all how can it have made 7th on a list when no one has it yet!

I noticed that the SM certification started to be nicknamed "Master" a few years ago, after ITIL was introduced to the USA. Clearly the moniker stuck, and now that there's going to be a real "Master" - let the confusion begin!

People wanted to brag about their certs...

I guess that people wanted to brag about their "Manager's Certificate in IT Service Management" (which is the official name), but this is just to long for email signatures.

"John Doe, MCSE, MCDBA, CCIE, MBA, PMP, CCNA, ACDT, ACDC, Black Belt, Jedi Master, ITIL Master"

I've also seen the "Red badge" title

I recently read a very good Pink Elephant blog entry clarifying the differences between Certification, Designation, Diploma and Qualification.

Why patch the ceiling when the floor has holes in it?

To the "skeptical" observer, it might appear yet another layer is being added to the cake when the bottom layers still aren't quite baked.

IIRC, one of the training

IIRC, one of the training vendors coined the term "ITIL Master" to apply to their Service Manager class. So from a v2 perspective, Manager and Master were equivalents. Thus, there will definitely be confusion.

Someone already holds ITIL V3 Master!

Searching for people on LinkedIn reveals that one person (in the USA) already calls themselves "ITIL V3 Master". So definitely going to cause confusion as George said.

On a positive note, it is good to see a conventional approach to assessment being used instead of multiple choice. It will, I feel sure, be a valid measure of capability in ITSM that will indicate to potential employers that the holder can successfully drive an ITSM programme. However, no one should deceive themselves into thinking ITIL V3 Master Certificate is a substitute for a Masters Degree in ITSM at a university requiring a year's postgraduate study coupled with the writing of a 15-20,000 word dissertation.

a dreadful name that is going to cause endless confusion

yes it is a dreadful name that is going to cause endless confusion. A little light googling also reveals :

  • the reference I mentioned above about salary stats already quoted for "ITIL V3 Master"
  • ALC are selling an "ITIL V3 Master Bridging Course" (search the page - obviously they fixed some but not all references to it) - so too the hopelessly named Geo-Spatial Project Learning Institute
  • and several job ads already looking for one - some employers are so demanding aren't they?
  • even HP refer to "ITIL v2 Service Manager (aka Master) "

Define "real-world experiences"

David - excellent point - there are many folks who anointed themselves 'ITIL Master' in some vain attempt to distinguish their Service Manager certificate from that gained by others. I for one am hoping the 'real-world experiences' APMG references means some form of successful use of ITIL with defensible numbers. The interview should grill candidates on their stated case to inspect its validity - similar to six sigma black belts. I also feel each case should be based upon a MINIMUM amount of benefit, and that benefit having been signed off (agreed) to by the benefactor.

For example... "at Widgets Inc I managed the design, development and implementation of a service management initiative that reduced the operational headcount by 3, impact of unscheduled outages by $235,000 in the first year, reduced the average cycle time and cost of high risk changes by 25%, while balancing on one leg and reciting the ITIL dictionary backwards".

I look forward with intrigue to the list of candidate 'real-world experiences', I hope they are not just aligned with the 5 V3 books.... and map more to benefits derived from practical application of ITIL as part of a service management strategy. An ITIL bound strategy has limits...

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