What are the Most Recognized Six Sigma Certifications?

What is the most recognized Six Sigma certification?
What is the most recognized Six Sigma certification?

What is the most recognized Six Sigma certification?

Six Sigma methodology is an effective and proven way of improving profits and quality by reducing defects and issues with all aspects of the business itself. For certification, you are going to want to choose the most recognized, respected, and capable option available. This includes choosing between vendors, for-profit schools, individual corporations and industry organizations. Likely candidates include The American Society for Quality, the International Association for Six Sigma Certification, Villanova, GE, and much more.

The Three Types of Certifying Bodies

The certifications come in three forms. You have the main bodies like IASSC, universities like Villanova, and in-house certification from corporations like GE, all mentioned above. These are some of the most trusted options available, especially with in-house operations where they want to make sure that you meet their standards and expectations.

The importance of Six Sigma is unmatched. There are not a lot of options like it, at least those that focus on all levels and layers of a business. Quality, efficiency, and profits all receive a boost when Six Sigma is used properly, which means that a business can continue to improve and strengthen over time. It allows for continuous improvements that rely on accurate information and that do not lack in any of the necessities. When you find that your business is not able to compete on a large scale or is not doing as well as it should, you can make use of Six Sigma to boost  performance.

If you are planning to become certified, you should know more about the various options available to you. The ones above are some of the most trusted, of course, but there is more to them than you might think.

Organizations offering Six Sigma Certification

One option that everyone should consider at some point is the main bodies of certification. These bodies focus solely on Six Sigma certification and are highly respected in the field. Numerous businesses know their names and trust the education that they provide. The organizations have the necessary credentials to certify you in Six Sigma that hiring organizations will view positively.

Learn more about what these organizations can offer as well as how each one stands out. Make sure to look into the credentials of each of them to choose one that is trusted and respected. The two leading contenders in this space are the ASQ and the IASSC.

Both rely on established Bodies of Knowledge  to test you.

I personally like the ASQ model because they require you to do real-world projects to become certified. Their test is also open-book and much harder than the IASSC; both concepts which I feel is more like the real world. Go here for more information on how I passed the ASQ Black Belt exam the first time.

Each certifying body values some subjects over others. Here is my understanding of the differences between the 2 main certifying bodies based upon their published certification exam questions by category and percentage:

ASQ Black Belt vs IASSC Black Belt

ASQ Black Belt vs IASSC Black Belt

ASQ Green Belt vs IASSC Green Belt

ASQ Green Belt vs IASSC Green Belt


University Option

Universities are another great option to choose, so long as the university is accredited. Like nearly every field, you will find a university teaching this without the proper accreditation. This means that the certificate you receive will not be of any use to you. Some universities and many community colleges hire independent contractors to teach Green Belt courses. That is the route that I took. Some require you to have real-world projects and others do not. I would stress finding the ones with real-world projects. This material is much easier to understand when you have a guide showing you how to apply the concepts to real projects.

Another option are the on line universities. Villanova is a university aligned with a for-profit education provider that the accreditation required to teach Six Sigma. Choosing it, or others like it, is a good way to start on your career path. You can check out the various universities websites that are accredited or you can speak with them directly to see if their certification program is of any use to you.

Many people like the Villanova path because it adds the prestige of the Villanova university to the certification. I took the Villanova Black Belt training class and exam and passed it on the first try. I did find it useful. And expensive.

Villanova Bodies of Knowledge:

Two things that I do not like about Villanova:

  • You have to re-certify very often by either paying for more classes or taking the exam again. This gets expensive quickly. While others like the ASQ have continuing education requirements, there are many options available for little or no cost.
  • Villanova requires you to do a mock project. Mock projects are great for learning. I think everyone should do one. But I believe that a certification should require real-world experience. If I was hiring a black belt, I would give more credence to the one who passed the ASQ version.

Business Certification

Businesses that view Six Sigma as a vital part of success may have their own in-house certification. Cummins and GE are two of the big ones here. They want to make sure that future employees meet their personal expectations and standards before hiring them. While they may also require another form of certification, that is not always the case. Their biggest concern here is what you can do. They care about your experience and they care that you meet their own standards for a Six Sigma Black Belt. Before having you join, they are going to ask you various questions about your history with Six Sigma most likely and then they are going to have you go through a rather long training process to make sure that you are a right fit for the business.


When it comes to the most recognized for each, it is hard to say with certainty. In truth, there are multiple exceptional options for all three. Some points to consider when choosing one, if you are going through most recognized and respected, are employment prospects, number of people certified through it, and salary expectations because of it. There is a long list of options and many of them may seem appealing. You have to look at them as a whole, weigh their benefits and downsides, and choose the one that is going to fit your interests and needs the most. Making an informed decision through research is the best path to take, especially when you consider how long training can take in some cases. If you want the highest chance of success, respect, and a good job, then put in the hours to find the right certification.

17 comments… add one
  • Jeremy Garrett

    The American Society for Quality is one of the most recognized societies for quality. They offer a variety of certifications including Six Sigma Yellow Belt, Six Sigma Green Belt, and the Six Sigma Black Belt. The ASQ certifications are true certifications — not certificates. Many organizations will offer a mere certificate. The difference is that a certificate is earned by a completing a course whether any material was applied (or even learned). A certification is a statement from a recognized, large organization stating that they are willing to stake their reputation on the ability of a certified person being able to APPLY the skills (not simply having read about them). As a result, the ASQ Certified Six Sigma Green Belt process is actually more rigorous, arduous, and more time consuming that most Six Sigma Black Belt requirements. ASQ requires mentored, documented, approved projects starting at the Green Belt level. As a result an ASQ certification is among the most respected (and hardest to get) in the nation.

    • Thanks, Jeremy. You are absolutely correct. If I were hiring people with Six Sigma qualifications, I would absolutely prefer those who achieved the ASQ certification over others who passed a course on the internet.

  • Mikkel

    I totally agree with you that demonstration of skill on real life project comes second to non.

    I actually would prefer one who has been certified according to the Ohio State University certification standard as they require you to complete one project as GB and two as a BB making a significant contribution in $ or as a significant step change for non-profit project.

    The nature of the ASQ certification process allow people to never have lead a project to achieve the credential as GB only need to pass the exam and BB only need to verify a certain number of years working with the LSS BoK before taken the exam.

    • Mikkel, I appreciate your comment, but that is certainly not true. ASQ requires BBs to lead 2 projects regardless of how many years worked.

  • Vineeth08

    I have almost 3 years of experience in Quality management systems so far. I am planning to get the certification through IASSC for Black belt. For which I am almost on the midway of the preparation as per the IASSC BOK. I have a doubt that since I dont have any on going project right now, I dont want to prefer ASQ currently. Is a certification from IASSC black belt has a good value in the global market in order to get into a higher level or better company? Am I going the right way by taking this exam? Please help

    • Hi Vineet, I think it depends on your employer (or places you will be applying.) I personally only value the ASQ certification because it requires leadership of projects and I do not believe you can truly understand this stuff unless you practice it on real business projects. But that’s just me. Other people value other things. I would recommend that you reach out to recruiters at the place you are looking to be hired and understand their disposition. Many recruiters have little to no understanding about the difference between the various kinds of certification.

  • Jay

    Thank you for creating this fantastic, concise resource for everyone. I am an engineer just starting out in industry and I’m considering working my way towards the Black Belt certification. Since ASQ has the 3 year work experience requirement do you think it is a good idea to take Villanova’s Green Belt certification course first to build my foundation and then a year or two later take ASQ’s Black Belt examination after I have completed the required 2 Six Sigma projects?

  • millerfinnegan7106@comcast.net

    I greatly appreciate the content provided. In 2007, Allstate Insurance Company went crazy with Six Sigma. The CEO, Tom Wilson was huge on the topic. I was Certified by Allstate after completing 3 Six Sigma projects and taking a test in house. I have been working on Six Sigma projects leading to multi million dollar IT projects since then.
    I was disappointed in myself in getting a 54% on the practice test I took, but recognize I have not studied a word since around 2009. I wanted to see what I still had in my memory. I guess I need to do some reading to refamiliarize myself with some of the terminology.

    • Yeah, it slips away fast! The tests can be exacting. But in the end it is the application for realizing value that counts.

  • Mark Shannon

    I am currently doing IASSC Green Belt online. I will be doing my own project at the end of it, using the skills and knowledge that I will have learnt on my Green Belt course and I will be documenting it too so that I have hard evidence of a completed project.

    Can anybody give me any more advice on what I should do with regard to my final project and how I can make it seem more ‘valid’ to a potential employer?

  • Apurva Ajit Mande

    I was searching for pursuing LSS Black Belt training and came across Acuity University’s BB training and certification program.
    Kindly advice if it would be wise to pursue this program.
    Thank you,

    • I can’t speak to the quality of the training program. I’ve never seen it. However, I think the only certification worth pursuing is the ASQ. I would certainly only hire someone who passed the ASQ.

  • Nancy Elletson

    Hi….I purchased the Career Match online green/black belt bundled package – do you have any feedback for me re whether or not this program is worth my time and effort? At the time, I inquired with CM as to whether they are accredited or not and they claimed that they were…? I just now received information as to how I will test for each module and the provider they sent me a link for is IASSC. After hours of researching, it is confusing as to what the best route is for me to take – please advise if the track I’m on is going to be acceptable in the industry.

    Many thanks for your reply ~ Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,

      Yes, many educators confuse this on purpose. They are trying to sell courses. Some are good, but most hiring managers I know will only accept the ASQ certification. IASSC is gaining steam. Personally, I would only hire black belts who pass the ASQ because you are required to have led projects to obtain that certification.

  • Jac

    I m considering to obtain six sigma. There’re lots of on-line six sigma courses. it looks cheap and easy to obtain. what’s difference between ASQ/IASSC and on-line courses. On-line course can be accreditor like ASQ/IASSC ? I m confused which one can be the right accreditor.

    • Jac, there are only a few reputable organizations that the industry recognizes. ASQ is considered the gold standard. IASSC is also considered OK. Everything else is just paying for a piece of paper an in my opinion not worth the time. I wouldn’t hire anyone without the ASQ certification.

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