Updated: 2 hours ago
Navigating through all the platforms, costs, and difficulty when it comes to getting your Lean Six Sigma Certification
Is a Lean Six Sigma Certification Worth It?
Lean Six Sigma skills are structured Problem-Solving Skills. A perfect add-on to literally any skill in any scenario. Whether you are a nurse, teacher, data analyst, salesperson, barista, candle-maker, rocket scientist, blackjack dealer, machine operator… it doesn’t matter. You’re good at your core job, but you’ve likely relied on your intuition and experience to work your way through challenges and changes that are beyond your core skill. And maybe you’ve done okay! But likely not to the maximum potential.
This is especially true if you are a leader and you have a team or teams of people relying on you for direction and support. This is where Lean Six Sigma (LSS) - done well - can make the difference of a lifetime. It can help you to be great at skillfully doing your core job while continually improving the way that things are done...improving the results while the world around you is throwing changes and challenges at you daily...creating a workplace that performs - a workplace that you can actually enjoy!
This is where Lean Six Sigma - done well - can make the difference of a lifetime. It can help you to be great at skillfully doing your core job while continually improving the way that things are done...
As with any tool, you can dabble and use tools and techniques cafeteria-style as you need them. Or you can become a certified practitioner.
What are the Lean Six Sigma Certification Levels?
Learning how to apply Lean Six Sigma tools and principles undoubtedly can positively impact your work-life and career opportunities . Adding Six Sigma Certified to your resume proves your commitment to improving your business acumen and analytical skills, as well as improving the business where you work. The principles of Six Sigma find applications across a wide range of industries worldwide, in all types of organizations including Business, Government and Non-Profits.
There are different Lean Six Sigma certification “belt” levels that correspond to martial arts belts, drawing on the Japanese roots of these process improvement methods. Starting at white belt, practitioners can work their way up to master black belt. It is important to note that up until black belt, most practitioners have separate full-time jobs at their organizations, and use their Lean Six Sigma skills to take on only one or two major improvement projects a year.
As you can see from the table above, white belts have a basic understanding of Lean Six Sigma core concepts, and yellow-belts have primary problem solving skills that they can use to address simple problems in the organization, as well as be on a process improvement team led by a green belt. Green belts lead continuous improvement projects with an extensive knowledge of Lean Six Sigma’s DMAIC process.
Sponsor (or as we call them, blue belt) certifications are for leaders to support - or Sponsor - improvement teams. Depending on the organization, you may hear "Sponsor", "Champion", or "Blue Belt", which are all the same. As you'll din in any Lean Six Sigma project, this is a critical (and often overlooked) success factor. Sponsoring or leading improvement teams requires more skill than just a basic understanding of Lean Six Sigma. The certified Blue Belt knows how to drive and support the team to a successful conclusion with a maximized Return on Investment.
A certification that is hard to come across is the Purple Belt. We like to think of this the “X Factor”. That undefinable “something” that makes for a smashing success. That’s our Purple Belt - the Change Leader, the “People'' specialist. We’ve all heard that people “don’t like change”. But is that true? We believe that people don’t like change that is done poorly! Make their job easier, more rewarding, less stressful, more productive and they’ll love the change. The certified Purple Belt learns the skills to support improvement efforts to ensure that this critical X Factor is covered.
Black Belts are normally full-time continuous improvement employees who have a much more technical knowledge of Six Sigma, and can lead or support several teams or projects at the same time throughout the year. Traditionally, LSS Black Belts focus on the statistical aspects of root cause analysis. We’ve modernized our Black Belt skills to focus on more accessible and usable statistical concepts, using common tools like Excel for deeper analytics, in addition to the less-often-but-really-important-when-you-need-them tools. A certified Black Belt is an incredibly strong resource for any organization.
Lastly, the Master Black Belts are Lean Six Sigma instructors and teachers.
Companies that use Lean Six Sigma will use it in different capacities, and will have different guidelines as to how many practitioners of each belt level they will employ. General guidelines, however, state these amounts as a percentage of the entire organization;
White Belt Certified: 100%
Yellow Belt Certified: 25%
Green Belt Certified: 5%
Blue Belt Certified: 2%
Purple Belt Certified: 1.5%
Black Belt Certified: 1%
Master Black Belt Certified: .1%
Does it Matter Where You Get Your Lean Six Sigma Certification?
Despite Lean Six Sigma being used by thousands of companies around the globe, and positions like black belt being so coveted across many industries, there is no single governing body of Lean Six Sigma certifications. In fact, many Lean Six Sigma professionals have received certifications internally from their organization, and many need recertification when joining a different organization. The fact that there is no governing body means that just about anybody can put a course online or hold a workshop, make the learner pass a test and give out a certification.
There is no single governing body of Lean Six Sigma certifications
That being said, there are organizations that accredit training providers, the largest of them being the Council for Six Sigma Certification. On top of screening and accrediting providers, they also alert the public of providers that have false or information in their courses. A certification accredited by the CSSC is held in much higher regard than those that aren’t.
How to Get Certified in Lean Six Sigma
Through a university
If you are a student (especially studying business or engineering), your university may offer Lean Six Sigma as a credited course. For university graduates, check out your university's Continuing Education/Extended learning/Executive Education page, as many of these have online LSS certifications sponsored by the university.
Through a live virtual class
Many colleges offer a live virtual course that spans several weeks for anybody that signs up (not just students of that university). The professors that teach these courses normally have lots of teaching experience, but may be out of practice or lacking actual experience when it comes to the application of Lean Six Sigma Techniques. Also, although you will be certified after the course, you often won’t be given long-term access to many of the materials and templates that you learned throughout the course. Make sure to check for these things before spending the money on a virtual class.
Through your current organization
If the company or organization you are currently part of practices Lean Six Sigma, they may have a master Black Belt who will come in and train /certify employees. If there’s no master black belt on staff, organizations may also hire an outside consultant or trainer to hold certification training sessions. Please keep in mind that getting certified with a specific organization means that you are certified in the way they use Lean Six Sigma. Although the general principals will remain the same, you will likely dive into specifics that are organization-specific, and may not be applicable elsewhere.
Through a self-paced E-Learning platform
There are a multitude of self-paced online courses that can certify you in Lean Six Sigma, which can be both a blessing and a curse! With no singular accrediting body, those looking for an online E-course have to be very careful with who they choose to learn with. Things prospective E-learners should research before purchasing are
2) Lifetime access to materials/downloadable
3) Virtual 1-on-1 coaching and Online Support
4) Prerequisites required (you should complete white/yellow before green)
5) Project Required
How Much Do Lean Six Sigma Certifications Cost?
There is a massive amount of variability when it comes to Lean Six Sigma Certifications, especially as an E-Course. As you may have guessed, certifications get more-and-more expensive as you go higher in the belt levels. Here is just a sample of the range of prices from some of the industry leaders in the E-learning space.
Not only do these courses differ in price, but also in credit hours, project hours, and hundreds of small details like video quality and proving competence. If you are only seeking the words on your resume, cheaper courses are out there! But, if you are seeking real competence - the ability to create and deliver real results - then spending a bit more will be the way to achieve true competence.