In the world of ISO/IEC 20000 (and other standards too) there is much talk about schemes. But there is also much confusion about what a scheme is.

There are two types of schemes:

  • Certification scheme
  • Qualification scheme

Certification scheme

The certification scheme targets organizations.

It is about certification of organizations to ISO/IEC 20000-1. It sets out the rules for certification, registers certification bodies (third party auditors) who can conduct audits and issue certificates to successful organizations.


APM Group owns and runs a certification scheme for ISO/IEC 20000. Details of the scheme, the registered certification bodies and the successful organizations who are certified can be found on (this scheme was previously owned by ITSMF).

Certification is currently available to the 2005 and the 2011 editions of ISO/IEC 20000-1. See the website above for details of the transition to the new edition.

There are also other certification schemes around the world but none with a visible list of certified organizations.

Qualification scheme

The qualification scheme targets individuals.

It is about qualification of individuals to ISO/IEC 20000. Qualification schemes set out the qualification levels available, the syllabuses, examination designs and sample exam papers. Qualification schemes additionally accredit training organizations and trainers as having met criteria to provide training in these qualifications.

APMG-International owns and runs a qualification scheme for ISO/IEC 20000. Details of the scheme, the qualifications levels and the accredited training organizations can be found here. (This scheme was previously owned by ITSMF).

There are also other qualification schemes around the world.

The APMG-International qualification scheme has 3 levels of qualification for ISO/IEC 20000:

  • Foundation
  • Practitioner
  • Auditor

The foundation qualification is aimed at staff who need to understand at a basic level how ISO/IEC 20000 operates in a service provider’s environment. It is typically taken as a 3 day course with a multi-choice examination at the end.

The practitioner qualification is aimed at practitioners, managers and consultants who will be working with ISO/IEC 20000 in more senior roles such as process owners, service managers, implementation managers and consultants for assessment and support to achieve the certificate. This course has a pre-requisite of either an ITIL foundation or an ISO/IEC 20000 foundation. The course is 3 days with an examination which has both multiple choice and written papers.

The auditor course is aimed at internal or external auditors who need to audit against ISO/IEC 20000-1. The pre-requisite is 3 years experience in auditing. The course does not teach auditing and is aimed at teaching existing experienced auditors about ISO/IEC 20000-1 so that they can audit against it. The course is 2 days with an examination which is multiple choice.

The APMG-International ISO/IEC 20000 qualifications receive credits towards the ITIL Expert qualification. The credits are 1 for foundation, 1.5 for practitioner and 1 for the auditor qualification.

These qualifications are now available for the 2005 and the 2011 editions of ISO/IEC 20000-1. Examinations for the 2005 edition cease at the end of 2011. For those already qualified in ISO/IEC 20000, there is no bridging course but it is a good idea for certified individuals to make themselves familiar with the new edition of the standard.