PMP vs Six Sigma – How To Choose One

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24th Nov, 2022
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PMP vs Six Sigma – How To Choose One

The Project Management Professional (PMP®) and Six Sigma certifications are two of the most reputed certifications in the management world. The PMP certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is considered the gold standard for aspiring project managers. The Six Sigma certification gives you the knowledge of tools and techniques to improve business processes. If you're a certified PMP, should you consider getting your Six Sigma certification as well? On the other hand, if you're not a PMP, what should you go for; PMP vs Six Sigma 

Check out the detailed article on Six Sigma Yellow Belt!

Six Sigma and Project Management have been compared alternately and have been promoted together. One of the most common questions that arise is whether an individual is better off having the Six Sigma certification or the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. PMP vs Six Sigma – the struggle is very real. 

Both certifications are nearly synonymous with successful project management in many organizations. There are many similarities between them, but there are also a few critical differences that can make the choice easier. You can choose between the PMP vs Six Sigma certifications by first getting clarity on both. Let’s start with PMP. 

Know more about importance of project charter.

Earning a PMP Certification 

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the project management designation offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMP certification is often recommended to those who are new to project management and has been designed so that individuals with diverse skills and expertise can utilize it.  

Becoming a certified Project Management Professional is usually granted after passing an exam, which mainly deals with two areas. These are Project Management Process Groups and the Introduction to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). To prepare for the PMP exam, you may consider taking PMP tutorials or a project management course with placement. However, it’s important that the training be tailored to the latest curriculum of the PMP exam. By passing the exam offered by Project Management Institute (PMI), individuals obtain the title of certified project management professional, or project manager. 

Six Sigma Certification 

Now, let’s give you a brief overview of the Six Sigma certification. Maybe it’ll make your choice between PMP vs Six Sigma easier! Six Sigma is an industrial engineering quality methodology based on statistical analysis and quality control. It was developed by Motorola in 1986 and was later adopted by General Electric under Jack Welch. The Six Sigma methodology focuses on reducing defects or increasing customer satisfaction through process redesign and measurement. The main method of Six Sigma is DMAIC cycle, which stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. Its stages are explained below: 

  • Define phase:  Define the problem 
  • Measure phase: Measure the severity of the problem and its impact on processes 
  • Analyze phase: Ascertain the root causes(s) of the problem 
  • Improve phase: Find ways to make the processes more efficient 
  • Control phase: Maintain results on a long-term basis and standardize them 

The Six Sigma certification is widely regarded as an indispensable job qualification for any business or organization. The Six Sigma methodology is widely used by companies such as Motorola, General Electric, Sony, FedEx, and NASA. A device used by Six Sigma practitioners is the "cause and effect diagram" (or "fishbone diagram"), which is also called an " Ishikawa diagram", after Kaoru Ishikawa, who pioneered this tool. There are several Six Sigma certifications at the project level. These are: 

  • White Belt 
  • Yellow Belt 
  • Green Belt 
  • Black Belt 

PMP Vs Six Sigma which is better?

Similarities Between Six Sigma vs PMP® Certification 

Let us now explore PMP certifications and Six Sigma similarities. Right off the bat, we know that both refer to bodies of knowledge - Lean Six Sigma and the PMBOK® Guide. However, while the PMBOK Guide is concerned about improving project success, Lean Six Sigma is all about increasing process efficiency. This means determining ways to complete processes using the least amount of time, money, and resources. You might think that increasing project effectiveness will eventually lead to process efficiency, but you can’t guarantee that. Therefore, it’s always better for your organization to adopt both bodies of knowledge. 

An obvious similarity that both these certifications share is the amount of value they give project managers. This is not specific to Six Sigma or Project Management communities, but the business sphere in general. Companies are always on the lookout for professionals certified in either of the two courses, because they would make very valuable hires. It’s no surprise that PMP certified professionals make at least 23% more than their non-certified peers.  

Both the certifications are also world-renowned, opening professionals up to both domestic and international opportunities. The organizations they join also stand to benefit. Their managers can breathe a little easier, counting on them to improve the project success rate of the organization.   

Differences Between Six Sigma vs PMP® Certification 

Now we’ll look at PMP vs Six Sigma – the differences. While there are many similarities between the Six Sigma and PMP tools, they also have differences. The main difference between the two is their focus. The PMP is an exam that certifies the holder of project management skills through the Project Management Institute (PMI®). The PMP certification focuses on a set of skills and concepts. It covers the five process groups that are needed to perform project management functions. These include the initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing processes that are involved in managing projects. There are also ten knowledge areas, also known as PMP knowledge areas. They are integration management, scope management, schedule management, cost management, quality management, resource management, communications management, risk management, procurement management, and lastly, stakeholder management. Each of these areas has its own set of processes, spread across the five process groups. 

Six Sigma is about improving business processes through quality engineering. Six Sigma is a method of quality improvement that focuses on the reduction of defects and waste in production, sales, and services. Six Sigma seeks to improve 100% of process outputs at reduced costs. This is achieved through data collection, statistical analysis, statistical tools, and other tools. 

In both Six Sigma and the PMP exam, the exam is multiple choice. However, the PMP focuses on project management. The PMP is a certification that requires project managers to have certain skills and knowledge. Six Sigma, however, requires a certain amount of knowledge to work on improving processes. 

Methodology 

While you do need to have 35 hours of formal project management training to be eligible for taking the PMP exam, there is no specific training to me taken. You are free to enroll with any PMP training provider. Just ensure that the course material and curriculum meet PMI’s standards. It is the same for Six Sigma. You can choose the certification institute, but you’re free to use third-party study materials as well. It’s advisable to train with a Premier Authorized Training Partner of PMI. This way, your instructors would be PMI-certified, and you’d learn from the best. KnowledgeHut PMP certification classes give you all this and more. You learn through experiential workshops, and even get expert guidance on your PMP exam application! 

How to Earn the PMP® and Six Sigma Certification 

Now that you have better clarity about both certifications, it’s easier to decide between PMP vs Six Sigma. Since the PMP certification is industry-agnostic, it’s a good idea to start with this certification. In case you already meet some of the certification requirements, you must definitely get started. As you know, PMI administers the PMP exam. Based on your educational history, there are two possible scenarios where you will be eligible for the exam. 

If you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you need: 

  • Minimum three years/36 months of unique, non-overlapping experience on professional projects 
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education 

If you have a high school diploma, associate degree, or global equivalent, you need: 

  • Minimum five years/60 months of unique, non-overlapping experience on professional projects 
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education 

As for the Lean Six Sigma certification exam, there is no single certifying body. What’s more, there are different certification levels, each with varying educational requirements. It is generally recommended that you train with a qualified Lean Six Sigma trainer/institution/program before you take the exam. The various certifications are as follows: 

  • White Belt: An introductory certification. You have a basic level understanding of Six Sigma principles. 
  • Yellow Belt: You focus on essential tools, techniques, and Lean Six Sigma theory. 
  • Green Belt: Once you obtain this certification, you’re considered a Six Sigma expert. You must now participate in a Six Sigma initiative. 
  • Black Belt: You are responsible for managing White, Green, and Yellow Belts. You are capable of training others in Six Sigma. 

I hope the above information helps you make an informed decision even between Lean Six Sigma vs PMP. 

PMP® or Six Sigma Certification: Which Is Right for Your Organization? 

If you’re debating between the Lean Six Sigma vs PMP certification keep in mind the pros and cons of each certification. Depending on the career graph you’ve set for yourself, make an informed choice. No certification is better than the other – they just focus on different areas. 

What remains the same, as discussed earlier, is the value that both certifications will add to your resume. You’ll become a great hire for top organizations around the world and earn more as well. It’s a good idea to talk to a course provider about how the certification process is different for the Lean Six Sigma vs PMP. 

How to Choose Between PMP Certification and LSS Certification 

Whether you choose the PMP certification over the Lean Six Sigma certification depends on several factors. These include your current job title/the position you want and your long-term career goals. Keeping these factors in mind, the choice is simple. If you are an aspiring project manager, then getting PMP certified is your best bet. The same goes for existing project managers looking to grow to the next level. However, if you’re looking at getting into (or furthering) a career in quality control/assurance, a Lean Six Sigma certification is essential.  

How Do They Work Together? 

Here are a few benefits of holding both the Lean Six Sigma and PMP certifications:  

  1. Career Flexibility: If you’re a project manager, you can apply for positions in quality control/process improvement and vice versa. You can shift your career in either direction. 
  2. Better Networking Opportunities: You will be a member of PMI if you are PMP-certified. Depending on where you get your LSS certification, you may also be a member of organizations like the American Society for Quality (ASQ) or International Society of Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP). 
  3. Better Hiring Potential: You can easily apply for positions that require both certifications.

PMP vs. Six Sigma – What will you choose? 

Now that you have more clarity on the Six Sigma and PMP certifications, their eligibility requirements, and career prospects, you can decide which certification you want to go for. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it's a personal decision. 

What you must remember is that the most important factor is the career you want for yourself. If you know where you want to go in your career, then I hope this article has helped you with your decision. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1.  What is better, PMP or Six Sigma?  

Between the PMP and Six Sigma certifications, one is not better than the other. They just have different focus areas. If you want to be a project manager, you choose PMP. If you want to work in quality assurance or process improvement, go for the Six Sigma certification.  

2. Does Six Sigma training count towards PMP?

No, because their respective focus areas are different. Check with your training provider to see if your Lean Six Sigma training can contribute towards the PDU requirements for the PMP certification.

3. What is the difference between Six Sigma and project management?

A PMP certification is concerned with increasing the project success rate, while Six Sigma training helps increase process efficiency. It deals with reducing wasted time, effort, and resources.   

4. Is a PMP worth getting? 

Definitely! A PMP certification will help you earn 23% (on average) than your non-certified peers. You also get increased networking opportunities as a PMI member, among many other rewards.     

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