Six Sigma Certification: Benefits, Options, and How to Get Certified

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

This article covers the concept of Six Sigma, the different certifications available, the benefits, and the steps to getting started.

[Featured Image] A working professional studies for their Six Sigma certification exam.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a data-driven, quality assurance method that organizations use to improve performance, increase profits, and decrease errors.

The Six Sigma name and concept are rooted in statistics. On a bell curve, one Sigma represents a standard deviation from the mean. For a Six Sigma project, 99.9 percent of results must fall within six standard deviations from the mean, leaving a fraction of a percent of results that can fall outside of expected results. In other words, Six Sigma is a business strategy used to minimize error and improve profitability.

Several principles guide Six Sigma’s quality assurance method, including focusing on the customer, understanding and improving work processes, eliminating defects and problems, reducing waste, concentrating on value, collaborating with your team, and making your efforts systematic and scientific. 

What is Six Sigma certification? 

Six Sigma certification is a set of credentials verifying your expertise in the Six Sigma method. You can find a variety of schools and companies that offer training in this method to prepare for a certifying exam. These include: 

Lean Six Sigma vs. Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma methods take slightly different approaches to quality assurance. Lean Six Sigma optimizes the production process by eliminating unnecessary steps, while Six Sigma maintains steps, including advanced statistical metrics, to eliminate defects. You can get certified in either methodology.  

Read more: Lean Six Sigma Certification: Your 2024 Guide


Six Sigma belts

Six Sigma certifications are awarded in levels similar to belt colors in martial arts. Below, we describe what the different belt levels cover and the roles they could lead to based on information from the American Society for Quality, a professional organization for those in the quality assurance field. We also include salary information based on PayScale and as of December 2023. Use these as a starting point for investigating Six Sigma certification and choosing the level that is right for you.

What it coversJobs you can getAverage salary
White beltThe basics of the Six Sigma methodologyManufacturing Engineer, Quality Assurance Specialist, Business Process Analyst, Project Manager$42,000
Yellow beltThe foundations of Six Sigma, building on white belt basicsMechanical Engineer, Business Analyst, Process Engineer, Production Supervisor$65,000
Green beltAnalyzing and solving quality problems, participating in quality improvement projectsAnalyzing and solving quality problems, participating in quality improvement projects$85,000
Black beltSix Sigma principles, philosophies, supporting systems, and tools; team leadership; the DMAIC modelContinuous Improvement Manager, Process Improvement Manager, Six Sigma Black Belt Project Manager, Continuous Improvement Director$95,000 to $110,000
Master black beltDeveloping key metrics and direction of a Six Sigma program, enterprise-wide planning, advanced understanding of improvement methodologies, mentoring and coaching people with other Six Sigma belt levelsQuality Assurance Manager, Program Manager/Business Excellence and Transformation for HR, LIMS Systems Analyst, General Manager$100,000 to $135,000

Benefits of getting Six Sigma certified 

Six Sigma certification is a versatile credential, as organizations across industries use it for quality assurance, from tech and finance to health care and education. As of December 2023, LinkedIn has over 4,900 job listings with Six Sigma certification as a required or preferred qualification. Companies hiring Six Sigma-certified professionals include Johnson & Johnson, Amazon, North Carolina State University, Walmart, Google, and Pfizer. 

Explore these additional career benefits that Six Sigma certification may afford you: 

  • Increasing your value to employers across industries

  • Helping your organization reduce risk and eliminate errors

  • Ensuring compliance

  • Advancing into managerial roles

  • Increasing your salary

Read more: How to List Certifications on Your Resume: Guide + Examples

How to get a Six Sigma certification 

If you’re ready to get Six Sigma certified, follow the steps below to streamline your process. 

1. Identify your goals. 

There are several goals that Six Sigma certification can serve, including switching to a new career, applying for a job that requires this credential, or enhancing your performance in your current role. Knowing your goals can help you focus your efforts. What kind of company do you want to work for? What positions are you interested in filling? 

Read more: Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: Choosing the Right Career Path

2. Decide which belt level of certification you need.

The next step is to determine the level of certification you will pursue based on your career goals. Search job sites for your desired field and role and read the list of qualifications to find out which belt level is required. 

3. Choose a Six Sigma training program.  

With the variety of Six Sigma certification and training programs available, you’ll want to choose your training program carefully. Weigh factors like the cost of training for and taking a certifying exam, the kind of study material available, the exam format, and the reputation of organizations certifying your credential. 

You may find it useful to review the Council for Six Sigma Certification’s provider directory to find the best fit. 

4. Learn Six Sigma fundamentals. 

As you train for Six Sigma certification, be sure to build foundational knowledge of the methodologies and tools professionals in this field use. For example: 

The DMAIC methodology stands for:

  • Defining the problem 

  • Measuring process performance

  • Analyzing the process to determine causes of variation and poor performance

  • Improving process performance

  • Controlling the improved process 

The DMADV methodology stands for: 

  • Defining project goals and customer deliverables 

  • Creating measurements and metrics based on customer requirements

  • Analyzing different project/process designs to meet customer demands

  • Converting the best design into a prototype

  • Validate and verify the prototype by testing its function 

5. Take the certifying exam. 

After completing a training program, your final step for getting Six Sigma certified is to pass a certifying exam. Some Six Sigma certification schools and organizations may offer downloadable badges that you can add to your LinkedIn profile, social media accounts, and email signatures.  

Get started in Six Sigma with Coursera

Online courses can be a great way to learn more about Six Sigma, explore career options, and prepare for certification. Explore Coursera’s Six Sigma certification options below: 

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.