Six Sigma certifications are highly regarded and recognized globally for their focus on process improvement, problem-solving, and quality management, which makes getting a Six Sigma certification the ideal way to move forward in your career in the quality domain.
From my experience, I can tell you that every Six Sigma professional takes Six Sigma Certifications very seriously. These certifications can be one of the best investments in your career path. Several well-known organizations worldwide offer these certifications. Some of these respected certifying bodies include The American Society for Quality (ASQ), the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC), Villanova, and GE.
In this article, let’s take a close look at the top six IASSC certifications given by the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC). We'll explore what IASSC certification involves, why it's an excellent choice, the different certification levels, how much each one costs, high-paying job opportunities with an IASSC certification, and more.
What is IASSC?
International Association for Six Sigma Certification is a certifying body that offers certifications for professionals to gain knowledge on Six Sigma skills and methodologies. In my opinion, getting a Six Sigma IASSC certificate is considered highly credible and widely recognized globally. Applying the knowledge gained from these certifications, you can drive various Lean Six Sigma projects in your organization.
IASSC certifications in Lean Six Sigma such as the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification, and the Six Sigma Black Belt are the most sought-after certifications to name a few. IASSC does not offer any coaching or training to professionals taking these certifications but has partnered with multiple training providers globally.
What are IASSC Certifications in the field of Lean Six Sigma
Before going into the details of Lean Six Sigma certifications offered by IASSC, let me brief you on the Lean Six Sigma methodology. Lean Six Sigma is a Six Sigma methodology that focuses on reducing waste and improving efficiency.
To make it simpler let me give you an example of Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodology. Imagine a fast-food chain that makes customers wait for a long time to get their orders. This makes customers leave the restaurant, which in turn affects the reputation of the fast-food chain. Applying Lean Six Sigma principles, the problem can be defined as what causes the delay in orders. Once the problem is identified, the right steps can be taken to come to a solution by applying the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology.
The International Association for Six Sigma Certification specializes in Lean Six Sigma certifications. These IASSC certifications help individuals showcase their knowledge and skills through process improvement projects. Their certifications include the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, etc. Hence the certifications by IASSC are extremely useful for quality professionals looking for advanced techniques.
Benefits of Earning IASSC Certifications
Having an IASSC certification makes you a credible expert in the Lean Six Sigma principles and practices. I am going to list the benefits of getting Lean Six Sigma certified.
Benefits of Earning an IASSC Certification:
- With an IASSC Lean Six Sigma certification, you are in a better position in terms of your career growth. You will open doors for various opportunities to lead six sigma projects and mentor teams to identify process improvement areas in their respective work field.
- Professionals with certifications offered by the IASSC are paid usually higher salaries because of their skill sets and expertise in Six Sigma.
- Lean Six Sigma trains you to identify the right problems in a process and give solutions to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the process. This problem-solving technique helps you look at problems in a more structured way, keeping quality as the primary parameter.
- Employers hiring for quality usually look for individuals with the right certifications. You with an IASSC Lean Six Sigma certification will have the upper hand with regard to facing interviews and getting promotions.
- As an IASSC Lean Six Sigma certified professional, you will be better able to handle complex projects focused on waste reduction and optimizing costs.
- Earning an IASSC Lean Six Sigma certification makes you a dependable team player in your organization.
Different IASSC Certification Pathways
IASSC offers two types of certifications, the first being the Lean Six Sigma certifications and the second being the Lean certification. Lean Six Sigma certifications focus on using lean principles integrated with six sigma tools and methodology. On the other hand, Lean certification focuses on Lean principles which strive for continuous improvement and reduction of waste.
1. Lean Six Sigma Certifications
Lean Six Sigma methodology follows the DMAIC process improvement framework and is focused on continuous improvement and reducing wastage. IASSC offers four Lean Six Sigma certifications for any individual striving to learn the Lean Six Sigma principles and techniques and apply them within their organization. They are the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and The Lean Six Sigma Yellow. Each Six Sigma certification offers training and skills pertaining to that particular level. For example, the Black Belt certified professionals go through rigorous training to lead complex six sigma projects.
2. Lean Certification
Lean certifications as the name suggests are credentials provided by IASSC to professionals wanting to learn the lean principles. The Lean principles streamline processes and ensure minimal variation. Lean methodology focuses on streamlining processes to minimize variation and reducing wastage by applying lean principles like Value, Value Stream, Flow, Pull, and Perfection. It uses quality methodologies like 5S, Kaizen, and Value Stream Mapping, etc. Lean Expert, Lean Leader, and Lean Practitioner are the three types of Lean certifications offered by IASSC.
The primary difference between Lean and Lean Six Sigma is the methodologies and principles followed by both Lean and Lean Six Sigma.
Top 6 IASSC Certifications in 2024
1. Six Sigma Black Belt Certification
a. Certification Overview: IASSC offers the Six Sigma Black Belt Certification as one of the advanced-level certifications to aspiring Six Sigma professionals. This is a course for quality professionals who are well-versed in the Six Sigma methodologies and know the core concepts of Six Sigma statistical tools. Since black belt leaders are responsible for initiating six sigma process improvement projects in the organization, the skills required to lead a project and mentor team members are covered in the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
b. Who can get it and prerequisites: Usually, senior quality professionals who are in leadership roles take up this certification. Anyone who is leading Six Sigma projects or involved in quality management is eligible for the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. For instance, project managers, Green Belt-certified professionals, and operations managers are eligible to get black belt six sigma certification. The whole concept of this certification is to provide the necessary skills and expertise to quality professionals since they are directly responsible for leading projects, reducing costs, and improving performance. Even though there are no prerequisites to get this certification, I recommend that you take the Green Belt certification as it gives you the foundation to move to the advanced level of the black belt.
c. Exam details: The Six Sigma Black Belt certification is a 4-hour proctored exam with 150 questions. These 150 questions will be divided into 30 multiple-choice and true/false type questions relating to each section of the course. You must pass with 70% to get the IASSC Black belt certification.
d. Cost: You can get the IASSC Black Belt Certification for $450 USD.
e. Advantages of Black Belt certification:
- You will be better equipped to take on complex projects and find cost-effective solutions.
- As a Six Sigma Black Belt, you will have the authority to lead projects, create teams for quality improvement and offer recommendations.
- You will be highly employable as a quality head because of the certification.
- Six Sigma Black Belts are paid higher salaries since they are an integral part of quality management.
f. Career opportunities & Salary: With the IASSC Black Belt certification, a world of new career opportunities opens up. It positions you for roles like Process Improvement Manager or Quality Consultant, and as per my knowledge certified professionals tend to earn higher salaries due to their specialized skills and ability to drive significant improvements. The average salary of Black Belt Certification professional is anywhere between $75,000 to $150,000 USD.
2. Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
a. Certification Overview: If you want to get a deep understanding of six sigma principles, the DMAIC methodology, and the various statistical tools applied in process improvement projects, Six Sigma Green Belt certification is the one. In the IASSC Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification you will get an in-depth knowledge of the core concepts of Six Sigma.
b. Who can get it and prerequisites: There are no prerequisites to pursue a Green Belt certification. Anyone who has a basic understanding of the Six Sigma methodology and knows basic statistical tools can enroll in this certification. In my opinion, the IASSC Green Belt certification should be taken by quality management teams who are involved in Six Sigma projects and anyone in general who wants to use Six Sigma.
c. Exam details: It is a closed book proctored exam of 100 questions to be completed within a time duration of 3 hours. The exam consists of 20 multiple-choice and true/false questions from each section of the course. You need to achieve a minimum score of 70% to get the certification.
d. Cost: The cost of the certification is $350 USD.
e. Advantages of Green Belt certification
- Green Belt certified professionals are always a part of the quality team which focuses on continuous improvement.
- As a Green Belt, you will be exposed to various scenarios in projects where you have to apply your knowledge and experience to solve problems.
- You will be well prepared to level up your skills and take the Black Belt certification.
- You will have the required expertise to take on complex projects and find cost-effective solutions.
- As a Six Sigma Green Belt, you will be an integral part of six sigma projects where you will contribute to finding solutions and reducing wastage.
f. Career opportunities & Salary: Green Belt-certified professionals can work as project leaders on small process improvement projects. They also work as trainers for six sigma quality teams. Anyone who has a green belt certification can also work as a quality consultant in companies to provide guidance and strive for excellence. The average salary of an IASSC certified Green Belt professional can get on average anywhere between $65,000 to $105,000.
3. Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification
a. Certification Overview: If you are looking for a basic certification on the Six Sigma principles, then the IASSC Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification is your answer. This introductory certification covers the basic principles and fundamentals of the Six Sigma methodology.
b. Who can get it and prerequisites: Anyone who has an inclination towards quality can take up the IASSC Yellow Belt certification. There is no such prerequisite to get the certification but having a passion for anything related to quality is always good.
c. Exam details: The IASSC Certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt exam contains 60 questions that should be answered in a duration of 2 hours. The questions will be in a multiple-choice and true/false format. The exam is proctored and scoring 70% is mandatory to get the IASSC Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification.
d. Cost: It will cost you $250 USD to get the Yellow Belt certification.
e. Advantages of Yellow Belt certification
- You will be able to apply the skills and knowledge you gained in the Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification in your daily work.
- Organizations that are driven by quality as the primary value always choose candidates with Six Sigma certifications. Having a Yellow Belt certification adds value to your career growth.
- You will potentially earn more with a Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification as you will always have an upper hand in comparison with non-certified applicants.
f. Career opportunities & Salary: As a Six Sigma Yellow Belt certified, you will be a part of small process improvement projects as a participant. You could also work as a Process improvement analyst whose primary role is to maintain the quality of a certain process. Also, Yellow Belt professionals work in the quality control field to identify possible deviations from the set standards. The salary of a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt can be anywhere between $55,000 to $90,000 USD.
4. Lean Expert Certification
a. Certification Overview: Lean Expert certification is the advanced level of Lean certification. Lean Experts, also known as Lean Gold, Lean Black Belt, or Lean Master are lean experts who are highly skilled in Lean principles and methods. They lead Lean teams and collaborate with the management team and the Lean practitioners to apply Lean methodology across all the functions.
b. Who can get it and prerequisites: There are no prerequisites required in order to sit for the IASSC Certified Lean Expert Exam.
c. Exam details: The IASSC Lean Expert certification exam is a proctored exam consisting of 110 questions to be completed in 3 hours' time. The exam contains multiple choice questions and True/False questions from each section of the IASSC Lean Expert Body of Knowledge. It is a closed-book exam and a score of 70% is the minimum to receive the Lean Expert certification.
d. Cost: The IASSC Lean Expert certification exam costs $295 USD.
e. Advantages of Lean Expert certification
- Having a Lean Expert certification gives you more opportunities to lead large and complex projects in your organization.
- Lean Expert is a leadership role where you will be expected to devise processes with minimum waste. You will be closely working with the top management and influencing decisions.
- Lean Expert is directly associated with reducing costs and improving efficiency in processes. You will have one of the most sought job roles.
- The pay scale of Lean Experts is $95,000 USD on average. You will have the upper hand in terms of salary and promotions.
f. Career opportunities & Salary: Lean Experts are highly valued for their ability to drive continuous improvement, increase efficiency and inculcate a culture of excellence. As a Lean Expert, you will be responsible for initiating Lean principles across the organization. You will be directly involved in setting quality processes and conducting due diligence. As a Lean expert, you could work in managerial roles like Lean Six Sigma Project Head, Process Improvement Head, and Quality Head to name a few. Lean experts are paid around $95,000 USD to $120,000 USD on average.
5. Lean Leader Certification
a. Certification Overview: Lean Leader certification is an intermediate leadership certification awarded to Lean practitioners who take up initiatives to include Lean principles, promote a culture of Lean, and focus on continuous improvement. To take this certification you should have led complex and large-scale quality and six sigma projects in your organization. Lean leaders play a significant role in coaching Lean practitioners and assisting Lean experts in implementing and applying lean principles.
b. Who can get it and prerequisites: There is no prerequisite to take this certification but if you are a lean practitioner or lean expert who has handled Lean projects is an added advantage.
c. Exam details: The IASSC-certified Lean Leader exam is a closed book proctored exam with 90 multiple-choice and true/false questions from each section of the IASSC Lean Leader Body of Knowledge. The duration to complete the exam is 2 hours. A minimum of 70% score must be achieved to receive the IASSC Lean Leader certification.
d. Cost: The cost of the certification for Lean Leader is $195 USD.
e. Advantages of Lean Leader certification
- Lean Leader training hones your leadership skills to lead and manage Six Sigma Lean projects. As a Lean leader you will lead multiple teams with the objective of streamlining processes and reducing wastage.
- You will be working closely as a part of the executive team which drives positive changes and puts processes into place.
- Since companies look out for certified professionals, you will be highly valued in the job market.
- Lean Leader certification helps you make quick decisions and also equips you with the skills to work during any exigencies.
- You will be directly involved in reducing costs and waste within your organization. This makes you an invaluable asset to your organization.
- By streamlining processes, you ensure quality products or services are delivered to the customer. This leads to happy customers and creates value for the organization.
f. Career opportunities & Salary: As a Lean expert, you will be working as a Lean Specialist, Operations Excellence Expert, or Quality Manager to name a few job roles. Your salary will be typically anywhere between $70,000 to $90,000 USD.
6. Lean Practitioner Certification
a. Certification Overview: Lean Practitioner certification is the introductory level of certification where you as a Lean practitioner will apply lean principles to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. Lean practitioners, also referred to as Lean Yellow Belts or Lean Bronze, are lean-certified professionals who are participants in Lean projects. In this certification, you will gain foundational knowledge and a fundamental understanding of the Lean principles, its tools, and techniques.
b. Who can get it and prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for getting this certification. But having problem-solving skills and an aptitude for using various tools will help.
c. Exam details: The IASSC Lean Practitioner certification exam has 50 questions to be answered in a duration of 1 hour. It is a proctored, closed-book exam that consists of multiple choice and true/false options to be answered. A minimum of 70% score is mandatory to receive the Lean Practitioner certification. The questions are given from each section of the IASSC Lean Practitioner Body of Knowledge.
d. Cost: The cost of taking the Lean Practitioner certification is $95 USD.
e. Advantages of Lean Practitioner certification
- As a Lean practitioner, you will be able to participate in quality management initiatives like process improvement projects, automation, and process excellence drives.
- You can use the knowledge gained through this certification to bring positive changes within your organization.
- Lean is a high-demand skill that will help you launch your career in the quality domain as well as give you an advantage over non-certified candidates.
- You can save millions of dollars in costs for your organization by streamlining processes and reducing variability and waste.
f. Career opportunities & Salary: As a Lean practitioner, your job roles and responsibilities will primarily concern process improvement. Few of the job roles are Process Improvement Specialist, Quality Assurance Analyst, etc., You can expect a salary anywhere between $50,000 to $70,000 USD a year as an IASSC certified Lean Expert.
Choosing the Right Six Sigma Certification for You
Six Sigma certifications hold significant importance for professionals in quality management. However, determining the suitable certification for you depends on a variety of factors. Consider the following to choose the right certification for you:
- Determine which certification aligns with your desired career path based on your long-term career goals.
- Based on your current knowledge and experience in quality management and process improvement choose a certification that matches your skill level. Also, choose the level that is relevant to your job role and career stage.
- Research the certifications that are commonly sought after in your industry. Some certifications may be more relevant and valued in specific industries.
- In my opinion, it is very important for you to do your research on the credibility and recognition of various certification bodies like ASQ, IASSC, Six Sigma Institute, etc., and choose the one which is globally recognized, suits your budget and gives you ample study materials and time for preparation.
- Review the eligibility criteria, cost, time commitment, content and curriculum of the certification program, etc.
- Consider the delivery method of the certification program. Some programs may be offered through in-person training, online courses, or a combination of both. Choose a format that fits your learning style and schedule.
Resources and Study Materials for IASSC Certifications
1. Online Courses and Training Providers
IASSC-accredited training providers offer training in partnership with IASSC. Kaizen Academy, KnowledgeHut, MySixSigmaTrainer.com, etc. are a few of the partners who offer various IASSC Six Sigma certification programs. KnowledgeHut's Six Sigma Certification Courses have various learning options like self-paced programs and virtual classroom learning which are tailored to meet the IASSC standards. The ASSC Body Of Knowledge will give you an outline of the topics and concepts covered in each certification level.
You could also get trained by training providers not accredited with IASSC such as Coursera, Udemy, etc. You can always choose the type of learning method and the training provider based on your requirements, pace of learning, and budget.
2. Practice Exams and Mock Tests
Mock tests are the best way to get the feel of the actual examination without feeling overwhelmed. By taking these practice tests, you will be more confident and prepared to face the exam day. IASSC offers sample practice tests for you to get an idea of the exam format. There are also a lot of training institutes that offer practice exams. A few of them are PeopleCert, Udemy, Coursera, etc. You can get detailed information about the mock tests from their websites. By integrating mock tests into your study plan, you can maximize your chances of success in the actual Six Sigma certification exam and approach the test day with confidence and readiness.
3. Professional Networking and Study Groups
During your learning phase, you may want to connect with other learners and also gain insights into the latest developments and changes. What better way to do this than through study groups and networks?
Study groups and professional networks connect like-minded people who share similar ideologies and goals. In my opinion, it is a good idea to be part of networks and study groups during your Six Sigma learning process. These groups not only offer support but also engage in knowledge-sharing activities, open discussions, etc. You will get to meet thought leaders, specialists, and experts in Six Sigma by participating in such groups. Also, these forums are a great way to showcase your skills and credentials which in turn can boost your career.
Maintaining IASSC Certifications
To keep your certifications valid and relevant, you will be required to update your knowledge and skills in the subject. This can be achieved by attending workshops, short courses, conferences, etc. Also, recertifications are an effective way to maintain your certifications.
IASSC certifications are valid for 3 years after which you have to take the recertification exam. Every certification including the Green Belt, the Black Belt, and the Master Black Belt needs to be renewed by learners so as to keep themselves updated on the new changes. Recertifications validate your knowledge achieved during the original certification exams. The recertifications must be taken before the elapse of the certification. There is a recertification fee for every exam you take. You will be given two attempts to pass the exam with a minimum score of 70% mandatory to get the renewed certification.
The Future of IASSC Certifications: Emerging Trends and Industry Relevance
Lean Six Sigma methodology is applied across various industries like healthcare, service, hospitality, etc. Lean Six Sigma when integrated with emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, etc. can make processes efficient and reduce costs. Also, integrating data analytics with Lean Six Sigma helps in identifying deviations from the standard process. Doing this not only saves time but also reduces wastage.
As Lean Six Sigma focuses on continuous improvement, waste reduction, and improved efficiency, the future of organizations and processes which integrate Lean Six Sigma in their technologies will always be bright. Lean Six Sigma-certified teams who make this possible are not only valued but are also indispensable. IASSC validates this through its certifications and knowledge sharing.
IASSC certifications are a profitable investment for organizations as well as individuals. These certifications are globally recognized, making them valuable assets for professionals seeking jobs across various industries and regions. Organizations that have integrated Lean Six Sigma into their processes understand the importance of skilled Six Sigma teams and certifications. As Lean Six Sigma focuses on continuous improvement, waste reduction, and improved efficiency, Six Sigma-certified teams become indispensable. IASSC certifications validate this through their endeavor of continuous improvement and knowledge sharing. IASSC certifications are highly credible and offer any individual or team an opportunity to implement Lean Six Sigma principles effectively and drive process improvement initiatives within the organization.