Motorola developed Six Sigma as a process improvement system in the middle 1980s, though “quality control” as a goal and a discipline pre-dates that. However, no organization owns or controls the term. Training and certifications are given by employers, universities and for-profit businesses.

Many factors determine which of the many sources of Six Sigma certifications is most worthwhile, and individual circumstances differ.

Does the student have real-life, on-the-job experience working on Six Sigma projects? Many certifications require this, especially for the darker-colored belts.

Is the student currently employed? Does the company have its own Six Sigma training, as Motorola and GE do? If not, what certifications does their employer recommend? That’s especially true of the employer is paying the costs.

The purpose of Six Sigma certifications is to verify the student’s level of proficiency. They wish to get a job or a new, better job, and make a higher salary.

According to the American Society for Quality, December 2015 salary survey, the average salary for everybody in the quality sector is $90,878, and that’s a 2.78 percent increase from 2014. Master Black Belts average $127,875.

According to the survey, 42 percent of the survey respondents have no certifications. Their salaries averaged $87,015.

34.3 percent returning the survey have just one certification in the quality control space, and their salaries average $89,533. The difference goes a lot wider for people with two to five certifications.

Those who have completed at least one Six Sigma certification average $99,943. Those without a Six Sigma certification average $82,238.

In 2015 those with a Six Sigma Green belt received $9,651 more than those without any training. Six Sigma Black Belts made $21,685 more. Master Black Belt earned $46,745 more than those without any training. Auditors who have earned a Black Belt earn $16,594 more than those who don’t.

Some organizations require all its upper-level executives to have at least a Six Sigma Green belt.

According to a recent survey by Global Knowledge, Six Sigma Green Belt certification owners make on average $102,594 annually.

Therefore, for students trying to get into a field that uses Six Sigma consider the white and yellow Six Sigma certifications highly valuable because they don’t require prior work experience on a Six Sigma project. If they can help the student get an entry-level into the quality control field, they have the most long-term value.

Not all training centers offer the white and yellow certification levels, so the Green Belt is then the entry-level certification. However, this can vary by organization. For example, the United States Department of the Navy requires more real experience from its Green Belt students than do most Black Belt trainers.

Clearly, Six Sigma certifications in general pay off for quality control professionals, as well as for many in fields related to production, manufacturing and project management.

If the student is not working for a company that knows which Six Sigma certifications it prefers, they must sort through the options on their own and perform their due diligence.

Does the person who wrote the training program have many years of experience in quality control and Six Sigma? Do they have such credentials as having written the standard textbook on the subject? Is it accredited by the International Association for Six Sigma Certification and The Six Sigma Council? Do the students have to complete projects? Is there an online forum where students can get their questions answered by the instructor or a Master Black Belt?

The Pyzdek Institute offers a full program of Six Sigma top certifications for 2016.

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