What Is Six Sigma Certification?

Six Sigma certification is a verification of an individual's command of a well-regarded method of professional skills development. Certifications for Six Sigma training are awarded in levels using a belt classification system similar to the one used in karate training.

Six Sigma is a set of quality management techniques and tools developed in the 1980s and adapted by American corporations including General Electric. Development of the Six Sigma system is credited to Bill Smith, a Motorola engineer, and the name was trademarked by Motorola in 1993.

There is no standard Six Sigma curriculum. Programs are offered by many colleges, online and on campus, and are offered in-house by many corporations.

Understanding Six Sigma Certification

The name Six Sigma has its origins in a statistical method of modeling a manufacturing process that is as free as possible of errors or defects. In statistics, six sigma indicates a likelihood of 3.4 defects per million things produced. This is the ultimate level to strive for, ensuring error-free delivery of a product 99.99966% of the time.

Six Sigma training, therefore, focuses on the development of management processes that reliably lead to virtually defect-free results in manufacturing or in any business activity. It uses a number of statistical and data analysis tools to reach its objective.

Key Takeaways

  • Six Sigma is a set of quality management techniques and tools that have been widely adopted by American corporations.
  • Six Sigma originated as a method of minimizing errors or defects in manufacturing processes.
  • It has since had a pervasive influence on management practices in the U.S. and abroad.

The Six Sigma Belt Levels

The belt awarded with Six Sigma certification is relevant to the position in the business the employee occupies within an organization. They are earned through practical experience as well as course-based training.

  • A white belt is awarded for completion of an entry-level overview.
  • A yellow belt is awarded for assisting a project at a practical level.
  • A green belt is awarded for learning the principles of Six Sigma and implementing them under the guidance of a black belt.
  • A black belt plans and executes projects using Six Sigma principles.
  • A master black belt manages the implementation of Six Sigma projects across functions.
  • A champion is an upper-level executive who is responsible for implementation of Six Sigma across all departments.

Many Six Sigma programs are offered by corporations and colleges. However, there is no standard curriculum.

Standards Are Lacking

There is no unifying standard or organization that sets a standard for Six Sigma belt certification. Each company or school determines its own criteria.

In some organizations, certification may require the successful completion of an exam or a series of exams. In others, an individual must complete a number of Six Sigma-based projects. Certification services charge a fee.