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. But the industry is filled with vendors and schools offering training and certification – usually at premium prices. So how do you choose? What are the most recognized Six Sigma Certifications?
What are the Most Recognized Six Sigma Certifications?
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 ASQ, 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.
- ASQ Green Belt Body of Knowledge
- ASQ Black Belt Body of Knowledge
- IASSC Green Belt Body of Knowledge
- IASSC Black Belt Body of Knowledge
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:
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.
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.
Which Certification Should I Get if I Don’t Have a Lot of Experience?
I get variations of this question a lot. I believe all answers come down to intent. Why do you want a certification?
Certification means many things to many people. And like it or not, what that certification means to others plays heavily into the conversation as well.
For some it is a validation that you took the time to learn difficult subjects. In this case, pick a certification that has a well-defined and publicized set of expectations (usually know as a Body of Knowledge).
For others is acknowledgement that not only have you learned the topics, but you have proven that you can apply them in a real-world setting. In this case, pick a certification that requires you to have performed well on a certification exam AND has an experiential learning component.
For others, it may mean that people with this certification have met certain minimum hiring standards. Here you’ll want certifications that not only have the exam component but require submission of a portfolio of completed projects.
Pick the certification that best meets your intent.
What Should I Do if I Want an ASQ Certification but I Do NOT Have the 3 Years of Required Experience.
This is a common variation of the question listed above.
I am a master student in Engineering and Management department at Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Also, my bachelor degree is Industrial Engineering and my bachelor graduation project was related to Lean Management, especially in Value Stream Mapping, Kaizen, 5S, Root and Cause Analysis. After I worked on it, I decided to study in this area in the future. After I graduate this master program next year, I want to study in the USA. I search a lot of job posting in Indeed and almost all of them want a green or black belt even in the entry level. I read all the comment in your website but still, I haven’t decided should I attend one of the courses or not because in the ASQ website there is information about the necessity of 3 years work experience. If you give me any advice about it, I will be appreciated.Busra G.
Let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good here.
Any certification is better than no certification.
If you have the requisite training, I’d suggest taking the IASSC Green Belt (you can see their expected Body of Knowledge here.) That exam is entirely academic meaning that you do not have to have any experience at all. If you feel that you have good command of this material, I suggest signing up for my free practice exams and taking the baseline exams that I offer.
If you do not have the requisite training, I would think about taking a Green Belt course that aligns with the ASQ Six Sigma Green Belt Body of Knowledge (you can see that here).
Do This In ALL Cases
Regardless of the path you choose, be sure to get a role and build your portfolio of work. This can be formal employment or volunteering. One of the chief reasons I endorse professional organizations is that they come stocked full of mentors who can help you find both.
Once you have your first certification you can build your own portfolio of achievements. Then, once you have the required years of experience you can take the ASQ exam. This may seem far away but remember that the time is going to pass no matter what you do, so you may as well be intentional about it.
At the end of 3 years you’ll have (2) certifications, you’ll know a lot more than you do now, you’ll have a tremendous personal network and you’ll have documented your projects creating a portfolio of accomplishments that you can bring to any interview you do.
What are the Most Recognized Six Sigma Certifications: Conclusion
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.
One More Thing
Whatever certification you choose, you have to pass your exam. Did you know that the people who use my practice exams and study guides report a 100% success rate of passing their exams the first time? Join here. There’s a 100% refund if you find it’s not for you in the first 30 days.