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.

7 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

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.

Generic attributes underpin 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 section. SFIA Level 1 is shown here as an example.

SFIA levels of responsibility

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 of what it means to practice the skill at each level of competency.


Categories and subcategories

The skills in SFIA are grouped into categories and subcategories for the convenience of users.

It is not proposed that these equate to jobs or areas of personal responsibility. The grouping is intended to assist people who are incorporating SFIA skills in role profiles or job descriptions, or who are building an organisation's IT competency framework.


Each SFIA skill is presented consistently, with a brief overview description of the skill, followed by what it means to practice the skill at each relevant level of responsibility.

Structure of the SFIA professional skills

Skills are constructed with the following reference details:

Skill name:


The name used for reference purposes

Skill code:


A unique code used as a short reference for the skill

Skill description:


A broad definition of the skill, without any reference to the levels at which it might be practiced

Level description:


Definitions of the skill for each of the levels at which it is practised.  The phrasing facilitates their use as professional competencies.

Example of a skill structure – illustrated by Digital forensics

Skill name:


Digital forensics

Skill code:



Skill description:


The collection, processing, preserving, analysis, and presentation of forensic evidence based on the totality of findings including computer-related evidence in support of security vulnerability mitigation and/or criminal, fraud, counterintelligence, or law enforcement investigations.

Level description:


Level 6: Sets policies and standards and guidelines for how the organisation conducts digital forensic investigations. Leads and manages complex investigations engaging additional specialists if required. Authorises the release of formal forensics reports.

Level 5: Conducts investigations to correctly gather, analyse and present the totality of findings including digital evidence to both business and legal audiences. Collates conclusions and recommendations and presents forensics findings to stakeholders. Contributes to the development of policies, standards and guidelines.

Level 4: Contributes to digital forensic investigations. Processes and analyses evidence in line with policy, standards and guidelines and supports production of forensics findings and reports.