Is Six Sigma Certification Worth It? 5 Points to Consider [+Careers]

Why You Should Considering Earning a Six Sigma Certification

Six Sigma is a concept launched by Bill Smith in 1986. Smith worked as a senior engineer and scientist at Motorola, and he intended on creating a standardized approach to focus on concerns related to the effectiveness of processes in all areas of an organization. Since the concept's introduction, it has been used by many global organizations to scale their operations and improve business performance.

SInce it was founded in 1986, Six Sigma has helped countless businesses—and business leaders—find new and innovative ways to solve modern business problems. And while Six Sigma may sound like a Greek fraternity, it is actually a tried and true standardized approach to solving process problems on a grand scale, regardless of industry. So, does improving processes, tackling complex problems and leading a business sound appealing to you? Then earning a Six Sigma Certificate might just be for you.

What is the Six Sigma Certification?

Six Sigma is a “methodology that utilizes statistical tools and concepts to identify variations or defects in a process.” These tools and concepts are designed to help organizations increase their performance to ultimately reduce error, increase profits and improve morale and production quality.  

The ultimate benefit of having a Six Sigma certificate is that it A) demonstrates your complete understanding of Six Sigma methodology, tools, and concepts and B) shows your commitment to helping the organization improve in nearly all facets of operation. What’s more, because Six Sigma is a renowned organization, it is quickly recognized on resumes and is widely respected across industries.  

Six Sigma Belt Levels & What They Mean

All formal Six Sigma Certifications are described by a “belt,” meaning the further certifications you earn, the more belts or higher belts you will earn. Six Sigma Certification is structured very similarly to karate, where beginners earn white belts while proficient members are recognized with a black belt.

Here is a breakdown of the formal Six Sigma belt levels:

  • Six Sigma White Belt

    • A person with a white belt is certified to support change management in an organization and engage with local problem-solving teams that assist projects.  

  • Six Sigma Yellow Belt

    • Yellow belt holders have demonstrated that they know the specifics of Six Sigma, how and where to apply it, and how to support project teams with problem solving.

  • Six Sigma Green Belt

    • Green belts have advanced analysis skills and can resolve problems that directly affect quality control. This allows green belt holders to be project leads and assist black belts with additional tasks.

  • Six Sigma Black Belt

    • A black belt is considered the near-pinnacle of Six Sigma, and these people are experts in, and leaders for organizational change. Black belts are able to lead all others and provide training.

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt

    • Master black belts are the highest achievers in Six Sigma, and they are tasked with shaping business strategy, determining key performance indicators, consulting on other projects and leading teams.

Benefits of Earning a Six Sigma Certification

Earning a six sigma certificate will at a minimum give you new knowledge and skills that you can apply in your day-to-day work. While this is an important benefit, it’s not the biggest appeal of getting your certification. Here are the top benefits of earning your Six Sigma certification:

  1. Higher Salary: Six Sigma members have clearly demonstrated their advanced capabilities and usefulness to their company. This usually translates to more leadership opportunities, and increased earning potential. 

  2. Career Advancement: Six Sigma skills are critical for anyone working in management or leadership. So by acquiring and perfecting these skills, you set yourself up for promotion and greater opportunities to work and lead in your organization.

  3. Job Security: With such valuable skills around analytics and process improvement, few businesses will be able to afford to lose you. And if you advance into management and leadership, your job security will only increase.

  4. Help Your Organization Eliminate Errors: The ultimate goal of Six Sigma is to help organizations improve their performance and output. So the positive consequence of being Six Sigma certified is that you are able to play a key role in the improvement of your company.

 Jobs You Can Get with a Six Sigma Certification

With a Six Sigma certificate, many doors will open for you in terms of what jobs are available and at what level you can work. And, these opportunities can translate across industries, making the benefits of Six Sigma that much more. To help break down the correlation between belt level and job title, here is a quick comparison of jobs commonly held by each Six Sigma certificate.

Six Sigma Belt Level Potential Jobs
White Belt Improvement Engineer, Q/A Manager and Senior Systems Engineer
Yellow Belt Business Optimization Specialist,  Business Process Analyst and Continuous Improvement Manager
Green Belt Process Development Engineer, Project Manager and Data Scientist
Black Belt Operations Director, Senior Business Process Analyst and Senior Project Manager
Master Black Belt Lean Process Improvement Director, Scrum Master and Continuous Improvement Site Leader


List of Companies Who Require Six Sigma in Job Descriptions

Many businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, require those in certain positions to hold Six Sigma Certificates. Here is sampling of some of the top organizations that seek members of Six Sigma:

  1. 3M.                                                 9. Damco                                   17. Maersk

  2. Amazon                                         10. Coca-Cola                            18. Motorola

  3. Bank Of America                            11. Deere & Company               19. Walmart

  4. Boeing                                            12. VIP Industries                      20. Berkshire Hathaway 

  5. Caterpillar Inc.                                13. Dell                                      21. Whirlpool

  6. AT&T                                              14. Ford Motor Company           22. Raytheon

  7. Wells Fargo                                    15. LG                                        23. Honeywell

  8. Cooper Tire & Rubber Company    16. General Electric                   24. Suzuki                                                     

How to Determine If Six Sigma is Right for You

Deciding whether or not to pursue a Six Sigma Certificate comes down to what your ultimate goals are for your career. If you aspire to be a leader, a problem solver and an invaluable asset to your company, then Six Sigma is likely a wise choice. There are many variables to weigh, though, and you want to invest in the right areas of your professional development.

To help inform your decision, here are six reasons that might persuade you to pursue a Six Sigma Certificate:

  • You’re interested in learning more about tools and practices that reduce process issues and improve consistency.

  • You want to bring the following to your organization: principles and techniques to improve existing processes, whilst developing effective new ones.

  • You see the innate value in reducing variation in processes, ultimately bringing added value for customers, employees and shareholders. 

  • You have a knack for analyzing, adapting and refining processes to streamline operations and reduce waste. 

 Six Sigma Certification Resources

If you’re interested in a Six Sigma Certificate, consider earning your Lean Six Sigma Certificate from the University of San Diego Division of Professional and Continuing Education. This program is available online and provides participants with an understanding of the strategic importance of business improvement, the need for fact-based management and how to deploy these tools in different sectors and organizations. 

If you’re still doing your research, here are few more resources for Six Sigma:

Six Sigma FAQs

Q: What is a Six Sigma certification?

A: A Six Sigma Certificate demonstrates one's comprehensive understanding of the Six Sigma concepts, tools and methodologies. Six Sigma itself is “methodology that utilizes statistical tools and concepts to identify variations or defects in a process.”

Q: What are the benefits of a Six Sigma Certificate?

A: There are many benefits of earning a Six Sigma Certificate, but the top ones include:

  1. Earn a higher salary

  2. Advance your career

  3. Improve job security

  4. Help your company eliminate errors and improve profitability

Q: What do Six Sigma certificate holders earn for a salary?

A: The average salary of a Six Sigma Certificate holder will vary from industry to industry, but research has shown that members can earn upwards of $115,000 per year, especially in leadership positions.

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