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Reference and guide to SFIA version 7. Framework status: Current standard.

How SFIA works

At the core of SFIA is the descriptions of professional skills and generic attributes. These form SFIA's most valuable resource. This section describes how it all fits together to form a simple, yet powerful, and proven approach.

SFIA’s seven levels of responsibility

The backbone of SFIA is a common language to describe levels of responsibility across roles in all the professional disciplines represented in SFIA. 

The SFIA Framework consists of seven levels of responsibility from Level 1, the lowest, to Level 7, the highest. 

SFIA levels 2

The levels describe the behaviours, values, knowledge and characteristics that an individual should have in order to be identified as competent at the level.

The levels are precisely written to be progressive, distinct and consistently described.

Each of the seven levels is also labelled with a guiding phrase to summarise the level of responsibility.

The generic attributes that characterise the levels of responsibility

The levels of responsibility are characterised by a number of generic attributes: Autonomy - Influence - Complexity - Knowledge - Business Skills.

The definitions of these levels describe the behaviours, values, knowledge and characteristics that an individual should have in order to be identified as competent at the level.

The breakdown of each level of responsibility can be found in the levels of responsibility and generic attributes section of this guide. SFIA Level 1 is shown here as an example.


Professional skills

SFIA 7 consists of 102 professional skills. 

  • The consistency of the levels of responsibility carries forward into the professional skills.
  • A description of a skill at a level is described so that it is consistent with the level of responsibility at that level.
  • This enforces the consistency of levels of responsibility throughout the whole framework making it solid and robust.

Professional skills meet generic attributes

The levels of responsibility, and specifically their generic attributes, are used together with the professional skills to describe competence.

Each skill description comprises an overall definition of the skill and a description of the skill at each of up to seven levels at which the skill might be exercised.  These descriptions provide a detailed definition what it means to practice the skill at each level of competency.


Navigating the SFIA skills

SFIA continues to group skills into categories and sub-categories for the purposes of the reference guide and navigation.  Colour coding is also used to identify the categories.

  • These categories and sub-categories do not equate to jobs, roles, organisational teams or areas of personal responsibility. 
  • It is common practice for a specific job description, for instance, to comprise skills taken from multiple categories and sub-categories.
  • The grouping is intended to assist with navigation, e.g. when incorporating SFIA skills into role profiles, job descriptions, or, when building an organisation’s own competency framework.
  • The categories and sub-categories do not have definitions themselves, they are simply logical structural containers to aid navigation.
  • SFIA is a flexible resource and the SFIA skills can easily be grouped, filtered, and viewed in alternative ways to support specific industry disciplines and frameworks.