Six Sigma Certification: The Ultimate Guide

Many people are willing to do whatever they can to further their careers, especially if they aspire to climb the ladder. Some may choose to go for higher education, such as earning a master’s or doctoral degree. Others may decide to sign up for seminars and workshops that can help them improve their knowledge or skill.

If you want to increase your chances of getting hired or getting a higher salary, you can look into Six Sigma Certification.

What is Six Sigma?

Companies and businesses use Six Sigma to improve their production processes, guarantee quality, and reduce or eliminate defects in manufacturing. In 1986, Bill Smith, an American engineer working for Motorola at the time, introduced Six Sigma as a set of tools and techniques meant for business process and quality improvement.

Six Sigma is a statistical and data-driven process that seeks to increase manufacturing quality by finding and removing the causes of defects. It also seeks to minimize variability in business processes.

Businesses hire employees who have Six Sigma Certification to oversee various parts of the manufacturing process. What role they play and what responsibilities they handle will depend on their belt or Sigma Six certification level. Higher certification levels often mean more duties and higher salaries.

What is a Six Sigma Certification?

What exactly is Six Sigma Certification? And what does it mean for you as an employee?

Six Sigma Certification ensures that professionals are qualified in using Six Sigma methodologies to streamline business processes, increase production, lessen waste, and boost customer satisfaction. Certified individuals generally rise to management positions as they are capable of identifying and remedying issues within an organization.

Having your Six Sigma Certification helps validate your skill in identifying risks, defects, and errors in a business process in order to eliminate them. Certification enhances your credibility and can help you become a specialist in process improvement. However, to get certified, you must prove your proficiency and experience.

What is a Lean Six Sigma Certification?

If you’ve heard of Six Sigma, you’ve probably also heard of Lean Six Sigma. They sound alike, they look alike, but they’re not entirely alike.

So what is the Lean Six Sigma program?

Well, Lean Six Sigma is close to classic Six Sigma in the sense that it builds upon the classic’s principles while focusing more heavily on efficiency. Both Lean and the regular Six Sigma strive for more efficient processes that can translate into more profit. However, the main difference between the two is the method they use to go about it.

Lean Six Sigma uses the Lean method to eliminate waste in order to provide maximum value. The Lean method is a business philosophy first used in the 80s that helps any organization run at max efficiency. It generally involves just about every level of a company.

Six Sigma tends to focus on businesses’ production processes. On the other hand, the Lean method focuses less on the manufacturing side and more on shaping every other facet of an organization.

And so, Lean Six Sigma combines the principles of Six Sigma with the Lean method. Getting a Lean Six Sigma certification shows that you are trained and knowledgeable in the methods that can help with reducing different types of waste in any process.

Why Should You Get Six Sigma Certified?

Is Six Sigma certification worth it? This is probably a question that you’ve asked yourself a few times before.

Six Sigma training comes with hands-on experience in the industry. The experience and knowledge you gain may make you a better candidate for management roles, helping you climb the career ladder. There are many other benefits, of course — let’s take a look at some below.

Six Sigma certification guide

1) Invaluable to Your Employer

When you’re capable of helping your employers reduce risks and eliminate manufacturing errors and defects, chances are you might just become more valuable to the organization. Six Sigma training may allow you to help your employer streamline processes, leading to budget savings and higher profit margins.

Your Six Sigma knowledge can help you ensure the compliance of partners, vendors, procurers, and oversight organizations. It also enables you to maintain profitable contracts that comply with international standards.

2) Earn More Annually

Six Sigma certified professionals often earn more annually than their non-certified colleagues. The rate increase depends on the level of certification you get.

3) Increases Your Value in Any Industry

Being Six Sigma certified can continue to help you through your career, even if you decide to shift industries one day. You’ll be knowledgeable in many methods to help your employer streamline processes, reduce costs, and increase revenue.

You can put your knowledge to use in various industries like human resources, banking, IT, telecom, finance, aerospace, marketing, and more.

What’s the Average Salary of Every Certification Level?

According to Simplilearn, here are the average salaries you can earn by certification level:

  • White belt: $62,000
  • Yellow belt: $66,000
  • Green belt: $83,000
  • Black belt: $99,000
  • Master Black belt: $99,000+, often breaking into six figures

Of course, the actual amount you can earn may vary depending on factors such as your position, location, and the industry you work in.

Benefits for Organizations to Have Six Sigma Certified Professionals

Six Sigma certification offers benefits not just to individuals but also to organizations. But what exactly can hiring a Six Sigma certified professional do for a company? Let’s see below:

Improved Productivity

Six Sigma-trained professionals can find ways to optimize business processes in a way that companies may not have thought of before. These professionals use one of two Six Sigma methods: DMAIC or DMADV.

DMAIC stands for define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. It is a data-driven methodology typically used for improving services and products to boost a company’s customer satisfaction levels.

DMADV stands for define, measure, analyze, design, and validate. DMADV is generally used to help businesses develop new business processes or to remedy existing processes that do not meet standards (even when already previously improved).

With these methods, Six Sigma professionals can provide actionable insights and advice that can boost productivity and speed up service and production without compromising on quality.

Cost Reductions

Streamlining business processes not only speeds up production but also minimizes (and in some cases eliminates) waste. The result is often a lower production cost all around, which can also translate into boosted output and profit.

Gaining More Trust and Credibility

When customers and other stakeholders know that an organization has hired Six Sigma-certified professionals, they may feel more comfortable trusting the company with their business. Six Sigma’s primary priority is to improve quality and efficiency. When customers can trust that a company will provide quality products and services, the company often gains more confidence from potential customers and investors.

Boost Customer Satisfaction

Because Six Sigma focuses on improving the quality of products and services by ensuring efficient processes across the board, companies can identify and remedy or eliminate issues in their processes. This can result in the removal of wasteful or redundant steps.

In businesses where customer service plays a major role, remedying these issues can mean faster service, fewer hiccups, and more satisfied customers.

Reduced Training Costs and Employee Turnover Rates

The DMAIC and DMADV processes used in Six Sigma are also quite helpful in the world of human resources.

By designing a good system from the very beginning, companies can increase employee retention and thus also save training costs associated with high employee turnover.

New Six Sigma-certified hires joining an existing company can help identify issues causing lower employee retention. They can offer advice and solutions to the problem that can translate into cost savings in the long run.

What Are Six Sigma Belts and What Do They Mean?

There are various Six Sigma certification levels, which are called belts. They’re similar to the belt ranking system in martial arts, where white is beginner level and black means expert. Let’s take a look at the Six Sigma Belts Below.

What are six sigma belts?

Six Sigma White is the basic, beginner level of certification that deals with the basic Lean Six Sigma concepts. As a white belt, you can support management and engage with problem-solving teams assisting in projects.

Six Sigma Yellow comes next, and it requires knowing the specifics of Six Sigma and how and where to apply them. As a yellow belt, you are often capable of supporting project teams working on tasks related to problem-solving.

Six Sigma Green requires you to understand advanced analysis, which can help you resolve problems that affect quality. A green belt can also help you lead projects and assist black belt certified colleagues with collecting and analyzing data.

Six Sigma Black Belt is the second-highest level. Black belts are considered experts and agents of change who provide training and lead projects at the workplace.

Six Sigma Master Black is the highest possible certification you can get. As a master black belt, you help shape strategies, develop key metrics, act as a consultant, and coach green and black belts.

Requirements and Costs of Certification

If you’re wondering how to get six sigma certification, the answer is that you’ll have to study, complete requirements, then pass an exam (paid). There are usually three main certifying bodies:

  • The ASQ or American Society for Quality, who often has the most rigid requirements
  • The IASSC or International Association for Six Sigma Certification
  • The CSSC or Council for Six Sigma Certification

The Council for Six Sigma Certification provides self-study training manuals covering every belt level. They also offer a free complete step-by-step guide that can help you through all the belts. This step-by-step guide is also available in paperback or hardback editions through Amazon.

It’s worth mentioning that you can get a white belt for free from the CSSC, as the exams there cost $0. You will need to get a score of 56 out of 80, so you will need to do some self-study. Alternatively, you can get training from a qualified Six Sigma training provider. There are no other prerequisites to taking the white belt exam.

Yellow Belt

Yellow belt 6 Sigma certification requires you to be familiar with the knowledge necessary for a white belt. You can also take the white belt exam for free.

ASQ

  • $394 for non-members, $294 for members, retakes cost $184

IASSC

  • $195

CSSC

  • $99

Green Belt

ASQ

  • Requires three years of industry experience in one or more areas of green belt knowledge
  • $438 for non-members, $338 for members, retakes cost $238

IASSC

  • $295

CSSC

  • Offers two levels of certification
  • $159 for basic certification
  • $300 for advanced certification (optional), obtainable after a final assignment, task, or evaluation

Black Belt

ASQ

  • Requires completion of two projects (with attached signed affirmation), OR one project with three years of industry experience (with attached signed affirmation)
  • $538 for non-members, $438 for members, $338 for retakes

CSSC

  • No prior requirements, but offers three levels of certification
  • $229 for basic
  • +$300 for level 2
  • +$300 for level 3

IASSC

  • No prior requirements
  • $395

Master Black

To qualify for a master black belt, you must already be black belt certified. The IASSC does not offer a master black certification.

ASQ (the highest Six Sigma certification cost)

  • Portfolio review costs $545 for members, $650 for non-members
  • Exam costs $2,124 for members, $2,229 for non-members
  • Retakes cost $2,074

CSSC

  • $665 for the exam

Best Six Sigma Certification and Preparation Options

When it comes to Six Sigma certification, you have many options. You can self-learn, do e-learning, or attend live study classes — it all depends on your preferred style of learning and your budget. To help you decide, we’ve curated a list of the best places to get your Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma certification.

American Society for Quality

ASQ

Many often consider the ASQ to be the best certification provider for a few reasons: they have a global reputation for their standards for quality, they focus on subject mastery, and rigorous course training and exam preparation.

First founded in 1946, the ASQ has members in more than 130 countries around the world. Aside from Six Sigma training and certification, they also offer training and certification for managers, inspectors/technicians, auditing, foundational quality, and engineering.

Training materials include handbooks, question banks, and study guides. It’s worth noting that members of the ASQ get discounted rates for exam costs and course costs. The exam costs are separate, and there is also a fee to retake exams.

Unfortunately, the ASQ does not offer Lean Six Sigma certification.

Lean Six Sigma Institute

LSSI

If you prefer self-paced learning, you can go with the Lean Six Sigma Institute, where you can earn your Lean Sigma Six certification. Here, you are given six months to complete your self-study. The self-paced courses often cost more than 50% cheaper than their instructor-led counterparts as an added benefit.

The Lean Six Sigma Institute has been around since 1998. Choosing to take your self-paced course at this institute gives you access to practitioners and the ability to hire a coach.

After paying for your course, you have two days to ask for a refund if you are not satisfied. The prices below include Minitab Workspace for three months, video demos, downloadable content, and two exam takes. If you fail the exam twice, you must purchase the course again.

International Six Sigma Institute

SIXSIGMA INSTITUTE

The International Six Sigma Institute was founded in 2011. Nowadays, it has clients in 143 countries worldwide.

If you’re looking for an affordable option, the International Six Sigma Institute offers the best value out of all the options on this list. You get lifetime access to your courses and their future updates with the price you pay, along with a money-back guarantee.

Here’s what comes with your payment: lifetime access to your course through the ISSI online education portal, access to future updates, exam cost, and live Q&As held on a monthly basis. Once you pass your certification, there are no recertification fees or requirements moving forward.

The ISSI does not require projects, affidavits, or work experience.

Villanova University

Villanova University

Established in 1842, Villanova University is a well-known private institution that offers one of the best business schools in the United States. The Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma certifications focus on skills highly applicable and relevant to managers, such as process mapping, decision analysis, potential problem analysis, and other problem-solving tools.

The prices below include the examination fee. There is a 15% discount for active-duty service members, reservists, guardsmen, veterans, and spouses/dependents. Groups of five or more also receive a discount.

Your course materials include videos and online learning tools, live weekly online classes, and mock projects.

Upcoming Six Sigma Courses

If you want to earn your certification but don’t want to do self-paced studies, there are many upcoming Six Sigma courses you can sign up for. The dates below are just some of them:

Yellow Belt Training
Date Location Duration Price
September 12 Dallas, Texas 3 Days $1398
September 19 Chicago, Illinois 3 Days $1398
September 27 Live Webinar 2.5 Days $699
November 7 Live Webinar 2.5 Days $699
Green Belt Training
September 9 Lean Six Sigma Online Bootcamp (Weekday Class) $1299
September 24 Lean Six Sigma Online Bootcamp (Weekend Class) $1299
September 12 & October 11 Dallas, TX 4 Days Per Week $3800
September 27 & October 25 Live Webinar 4 Days Per Week $2650
Black Belt Training
November 15 & December 13 Live Webinar 3 Days Per Week $2950
Master Black Belt Training
September 26 & October 24 Orlando, FL 4 Days Per Week $4975

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get Six Sigma certified?

The average time it takes to learn a level of Six Sigma may vary because some people choose to self-study while others learn through a course at a school or institution.

Yellow belts often take 3-8 weeks, green belts can take 2-3 months, and black belts can take 6-8 months. It’s very difficult to estimate how long the master black belt takes to achieve, given it often requires real-world experience.

However, the online courses are self-paced when you’re self-studying, which means it’s possible to get your belt faster if you can reasonably manage.

Which Six Sigma Certification is Best?

The best level of certification to go for depends entirely on your career goals and what you think your employer needs.

In terms of certifying bodies, you can choose between the ASQ, IASSC, and the CSSC. The ASQ has the most rigorous requirements and the most expensive rates, but getting certified by the ASQ often means you will have real-world experience you can take into your job.

Can I Learn Six Sigma On My Own?

If you don’t want to pay for classes or courses, you can find many self-learning manuals online. Some are free. It’s possible to go at your own pace as you learn Six Sigma online, then pay for the certification exams when it’s time.

What is a Six Sigma Black Belt Salary?

According to ASQ.org, the average Six Sigma Black Belt’s annual salary in the United States is around $90,000. This figure can be an excellent return on investment on the time and money you spent learning and taking exams to get your certification.

Is Six Sigma a good certification?

Six Sigma certifications are a great choice for professionals who want to boost their careers or switch into different fields. Individuals who get certified in Six Sigma are guaranteed to be knowledgeable in the methods necessary to streamline business processes, improve productivity, boost efficiency, and minimize errors and waste. Thus, these certifications benefit not only the individuals and professionals but also the organizations who choose to hire them.

What is the Six Sigma certification cost?

The cost depends on which belt you are going for, but on average, you can expect:

  • White belt: typically free
  • Yellow belt: $99 – $394
  • Green belt: $159 – $438
  • Black belt: $229 – $538
  • Master black belt: $665 – $2,879

Note that these costs only include the certification exams and do not include training.

Which is better, Six Sigma or PMP?

Six Sigma and PMP (Project Management Professional) certifications are two wholly different things. Six Sigma focuses more on the streamlining of business processes and the minimization or elimination of inefficiencies and waste. PMP, on the other hand, aims to improve project success rates by ensuring that everything goes according to budgets, project plans and scopes, and deadlines. The “better” option will be the one that fits into your goals.

How difficult is Six Sigma Certification?

Certification gets more difficult as you move through the Six Sigma levels. Beginners start at white, the easiest belt that you can usually get for free. Then, training and certification exams and assessments become more difficult as you move through yellow, green, and black belts. Master black belt, the highest of the Six Sigma belts, is the most challenging of them all — you can expect a rigorous training and exam cycle for this one.

Will Six Sigma help my career?

Most likely! Six Sigma certification can help significantly boost your current salary and give you a bargaining chip to ask for more benefits. It can also earn you a promotion within your current organization. Additionally, getting certified can make you more desirable to potential employers, which means it may become easier to ramp up or switch your career.

Which Six Sigma should I start with?

The order of Six Sigma belts always start at white and end in master black. Thus, if you would like to get your start with this certification, you should begin at the white belt. White belt training and certification is usually free, so you can do that whenever you are ready. From there, you can go on to yellow, green, black, and master black.

Is Six Sigma Certification For You?

There are certainly many benefits to getting your Six Sigma certification. Getting to the black belt level is a long and expensive road, but it can be extremely worth it, considering you will most likely get a return on your investment.

Six Sigma certified professionals often become indispensable to their employers and organizations. They generally tend to earn more while becoming more attractive to potential employers looking to improve their business’s bottom line.

In the end, deciding whether to get certified depends on your goals. However, if you ask us, “is Six Sigma worth it?,” our answer is yes.

Fortunately, it’s possible to learn and go at your own pace so you can take your time!

Related Productivity Articles:

Chriselle Sy
Chriselle Sy
+ posts

Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, but she's a geek at heart. When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.

Popular Posts