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

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Explore the concept of Lean 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?

Lean 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. 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: 

  • University of Ottawa

  • McGill University 

  • Abacus Team


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.  


Six Sigma belts

Lean 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 and salaries they could lead to in Canada based on information from Payscale as of June 2024. Use these as a starting point for investigating Six Sigma certification and choosing the level that is right for you.

White belt

  • What it covers: The basics of the Lean Six Sigma methodology 

  • Jobs and average salary [1]: 

    • Change manager: $111,000 

    • Quality assurance manager: $98,500 

    • Management analyst: $56,000

    • Management consultant, $67,000

Yellow belt 

  • What it covers: The foundations of Lean Six Sigma, building on white belt basics

  • Jobs and average salary [2]: 

    • Mechanical engineer: $62,136

    • Business analyst: $66,039

    • Process engineer: $69,000

    • Industrial engineer: $60,000

Green belt 

  • What it covers: Managing process improvement projects and implementing Lean Six Sigma methodologies 

  • Jobs and average salary [3]: 

    • Process engineer: $73,093

    • Manufacturing engineer: $72,056

    • Director of operations: $118,167

    • Manufacturing plant manager: $101,449

Black belt

  • What it covers: Building on Lean Six Sigma principles with cross-functional projects, ; mentorship  

  • Jobs and average salary [4]: 

    • Continuous improvement manager: $96,333

    • Process improvement manager: $94,286

    • Six Sigma Black Belt project manager: $83,500

    • Continuous improvement director: $132,000 

Master black belt

  • What it covers: Enterprise-wide planning, advanced understanding of improvement methodologies, mentoring and coaching people with other Lean Six Sigma belt levels

  • Jobs and average salary [5]: 

    • Director of continuous improvement: $177,500 

    • Senior director of engineering: $175,500 

    • Business transformation director: $140,000 

    • Lecturer/speaker, $100,000 

Benefits of getting Lean 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 June 2024, LinkedIn has over 880 job listings listing Six Sigma certification as a required or preferred qualification in Canada. Companies hiring Six Sigma-certified professionals include Air Canada, Randstad, Marwood International, and The University of British Columbia [6].

Explore these additional career benefits that Lean 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

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 Lean 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? 

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 Lean Six Sigma training program.  

With the variety of Lean Six Sigma training and certification 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. 

4. Learn Lean Six Sigma fundamentals. 

As you train for Lean 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 Lean Six Sigma certified is to pass a certifying exam. 

Get started in Lean 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:

Article sources


Payscale. “Salary for Certification: Certified Six Sigma White Belt,” Accessed June 10, 2024.

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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.