Lean Six Sigma certification is a project management certification that certifies knowledge of the Lean Six Sigma approach, which combines Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to remove waste, increase output quality, and maximize collaboration and cross-functional teamwork. This article explains the pathway for obtaining Lean Six Sigma certification across four levels of expertise.
What Is Lean Six Sigma Certification??
Lean Six Sigma certification is a project management certification that certifies knowledge of the Lean Six Sigma approach, which combines Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to remove waste, increase output quality, and maximize collaboration and cross-functional teamwork.
The Six Sigma (6σ) method for making things (physical and software) was created by an engineer at Motorola in the 1980s. This is where Lean Six Sigma certification comes from. Using Six Sigma strategies, it is possible to improve the quality of manufactured goods and achieve greater standardization. Therefore, it is a quality management method that follows a well-defined framework to achieve a specific and measurable outcome, such as reducing emission volumes.
The Six Sigma technique has gained significant traction in information technology and DevOps. It aims to minimize the variability in iterations and multiple release cycles to reduce the number of defects or bugs in a software product. In addition to error reduction, Six Sigma also helps to assimilate user requirements better, provide additional customer value, and minimize waste – which makes it closely related to the lean methodology.
The Lean methodology is also a manufacturing principle that aims to minimize waste wherever possible. Followers of Lean typically refer to eight types of waste as encapsulated by the mnemonic “DOWNTIME” – D for defects, O for overproduction, W for waiting, N for non-used talent, T for transportation, I for inventory, M for motion, and E for extra-processing. The Lean Six Sigma method, which tries to cut down on waste and improve quality and standardization, is based on many of the same ideas.
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Understanding the Lean Six Sigma Certification process
The Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC) manages many forms of Six Sigma certifications, including Lean. The Lean Six Sigma certification consists of white, yellow, green, and black belt certifications covering the methodology’s significant components and problem-solving strategies.
Professionals can either undertake the certification pathway in a standalone manner or get Lean Six Sigma certified as part of their larger Six Sigma journey. The CSSC suggests that all professionals attend Six Sigma training, while those working in the public or defense and military sectors should pursue Lean Six Sigma certification.
Interestingly, it is possible to begin one’s Lean Six Sigma journey for free, as the CSSC provides the white belt certification free of cost. After completing the Yellow Belt course, your following options are the Green Belt (both Standard and Advanced) and the Black Belt (available in Standard, Advanced Level II or III, or Master Black Belt levels).
A professional with a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification has demonstrated mastery of the entire Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. They have also completed a project using either the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) or the define, measure, analyze, design, and verify (DMADV) methodology. In addition, they have proven skills in team management, leadership, and handling the dynamics of collaboration.
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Lean Six Sigma Belts
Someone who has mastered the Lean Six Sigma methodology and can apply it effectively is valuable to any business. Each of the following four colors of belts represents a different degree of success: white, yellow, green, and black. As your level of competence advances, so does your chance to improve your worthiness to the organization.
1. White Belt
White Belt certification is free. However, White Belts are not team members during Lean Six Sigma initiatives. White Belt Certification confers a fundamental grasp of the process and is unlikely to impact a person’s income potential significantly.
A Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC) Certified Lean Six Sigma White Belt is someone who has shown a basic understanding of the Six Sigma Methodology.
The White Belt Certification also demonstrates an individual’s understanding of the discipline’s principles, history, and framework. This information gives you a good idea of who is involved in implementing Six Sigma and what their jobs are in a business.
There are two ways to get a Lean Six Sigma White Belt Credential from CSSC:
- Individuals who have previously undertaken the course and believe they substantially comprehend the areas included in the “Body of Knowledge” for White Belt Certification may just take the standard comprehensive test.
- Individuals utilizing a free study guide on their own or in cooperation with a training institution may instead take a series of short examinations as they advance through the various topics.
2. Yellow Belt
Yellow Belts are workers that have received fundamental instruction in the Six Sigma quality improvement technique and engage in related initiatives.
This person has fundamental Lean Six Sigma expertise but doesn’t run projects on a solo basis. They are often charged with creating process maps to help with Six Sigma initiatives. A Yellow Belt-certified professional participates in one or more projects as a vital member of the team or subject matter expert (SME).
In addition, employees who have achieved the Yellow Belt level may also be tasked with managing less significant process improvement projects that use the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) methodology. These projects at the Yellow Belt level are often advanced to the Green or Black Belt levels. The DMAIC method and statistical process control are used at these levels to achieve the most significant cost savings possible. Similar to the white belt category, there are two certification routes.
3. Green Belts
These professionals work closely with Black Belts and are responsible for most Six Sigma data gathering. Green Belts are often Six Sigma personnel with additional day-to-day duties within the context of their organization. This certification Belt is divided into two levels:
- Standard: The person has a comprehensive grasp of problem-solving abilities, focusing on the DMAIC paradigm. This permits the Green Belt to concentrate on discrete, well-defined Six Sigma initiatives, taking less effort than a Black Belt’s complete dedication to Six Sigma across the entire organization.
- Level II: This certification is at the Advanced Level, and a Standard Green Belt Certification will be required to apply. Unsurprisingly, there is no exam component. Instead, the team member must present a completed Six Sigma project utilizing the DMAIC or DMADV technique in which they participated actively.
4. Black Belts
These professionals keep the whole team on track to meet objectives and deadlines. Their primary responsibility is project management; these individuals are responsible for defining the Six Sigma project’s scope. During an enterprise-wide Six Sigma implementation, several concerns and issues may develop. Experts like Master Black Belts may assist teams in resolving problems and providing practical solutions. This certification belt has numerous levels, including:
- Standard: A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certified by the Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC) has a thorough understanding of the Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. Moreover, this professional comprehensively understands Six Sigma theories and practices (such as supporting components and tools).
- Level II: This certification is for advanced-level professionals. By completing a DMAIC or DMADV project, the candidate must have thoroughly mastered the whole Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. The Black Belt Certification II also demonstrates skills in team management, group dynamics, and the ability to assign roles and duties to team members effectively. It proves a high-level awareness of the DMAIC model, fundamental awareness of lean enterprise fundamentals, and the ability to swiftly identify “non-value-added” processes.
- Level III: The Six Sigma Black Belt Level II certification from the Council for Six Sigma Certification is necessary to apply for this Certification. Its components are similar to a Level II certification, with the main difference being the complexity of the projects involved.
- Master: Exam and project criteria are components of the formal requirements for the CSSC Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Certification. The test comprises 150 questions and follows an open-book approach. After passing the test with the required minimum score, the candidate must submit three finished Six Sigma projects using the DMAIC or DMADV methodology. The projects must be entirely distinct from those submitted for Six Sigma Black Belt Level II or III Certifications.
Traditionally, a real Six Sigma Black Belt Certification was necessary to complete numerous projects. However, this requirement largely disappeared over time, partly because it was more lucrative for training providers to redact this approach. The Council of Six Sigma Certification (CSSC) provides multiple intermediate “steps” and belts that enable individuals to gain a prestigious accomplishment from an officially recognized organization to address the disparity caused by several training providers in the sector.
CSSC Certification Cost
As mentioned, there are four stages of Lean Six Sigma Certifications: White, Yellow, Green, and Black. For each level of Six Sigma Certification, professionals must meet the prerequisites and pass an exam offered by the Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC), the American Society for Quality (ASQ), or the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC).
Typically, the first choice is the most popular.
Employers rely on a CSSC-issued certification as proof that you’ve fulfilled industry-recognized standards. In addition, the organization may only validate credentials gained lawfully through The Council for Six Sigma Certification online or at one of its testing venues.
Individuals can obtain their White Belt certification at no cost from CSSC. The CSSC’s Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification training costs $99. CSSC’s Six Sigma Green Belt Accreditation costs $159. The Level 2 Six Sigma Green Belt Certification would be an additional certification that one may acquire by submitting a final project or assignment for examination or assessment.
The expert certification is available for $300.
The CSSC provides three distinct Black Belt certification levels. The fundamental level is $229, while Black Belt Levels 2 and 3 cost an extra $300 each. After obtaining their Black Belt, professionals can compete for the Master Black Belt. CSSC’s Six Sigma Master Black Belt Examination costs $665. Notably, the same cost structure applies to the CSSC certification process for Six Sigma but not Lean.
In addition to self-study materials, candidates may participate in a specialized training session to prep for CSSC certification tests. Depending on the course, training may incur extra costs — for instance, $2,195 for Purdue University’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt — including tests and training.
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The key motivation for pursuing Lean Six Sigma Accreditation is that it makes an individual a more valuable addition to the company and, thus, increases their income.
According to Indeed.com compensation statistics (latest revised September 11, 2022), the annual income for Lean Six Sigma-certified professionals may approach or surpass $117,000. Certified Lean Six Sigma experts with extensive experience frequently make upwards of $100,000 and rank among the world’s highest-paid individuals.
The Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC) also releases a list of anticipated salaries based on the track record of certified personnel. The wages of CSSC-certified Lean Six Sigma practitioners are as follows:
- White Belt Certification: Average salary of $42,000.00
- Yellow Belt Certification: Average salary of $65,000.00
- Green Belt Certification: Average salary of $85,000.00
- Black Belt Certification: Average salary of $95,000.00 to $110,000.00
- Master Black Belt Certification: Average salary of $100,000.00 to $135,000.00
Six sigma accreditation is not easily achieved. The coursework is highly rigorous. Exams are difficult to pass. In addition, advancing from one grade level to another demands years of practical training. Therefore, it is not surprising that six sigma-certified experts are highly compensated.
CSSC Lean Six Sigma Jobs in 2022
As per today’s job market, Lean Six Sigma Certification is a precious tool, whether you are starting in a manager role like scrum master or have a technical background. A Lean Six Sigma-Certified expert is in great demand and highly esteemed. As more companies use Six Sigma to increase performance and eliminate defects, certification may lead to global employment possibilities. Consider the following responsibilities as you embark on a possible Lean Six Sigma path:
- Continuous improvement specialists: They gather data and analyze the underlying cause of a problem or mistake, communicate their findings to the leadership, and suggest amendments. Therefore, their primary responsibility is establishing and coordinating industry-wide improvement initiatives, like CI/CD in software development.
- Project manager: Any project is completed using the six sigma technique by the project manager. They are the team’s leaders and are accountable for ensuring the best possible product delivery. Six sigma green belts may function in automotive, electronics, healthcare, production, transportation, and human resource administration industries.
- Industrial engineers: To enhance operations, they evaluate product quality, manufacturing pace, and product flow, as well as equipment and personnel utilization. They could also be charged with the creation of product ideas, the development of equipment, and the testing of items.
- Process engineer: As a process engineer, a Lean Six Sigma Belt contributes to assessing production efficiency and quality alongside company management. One may use the Six sigma approach to remove inefficiencies and enhance manufacturing operations.
- Business consultant: Green Belts will collaborate with Black Belts as well as other members of the team, such as operations, to examine company processes and recommend alterations that will eliminate waste and boost output.
Six Sigma professionals have several job opportunities in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). They may take into account the following positions:
- User experience or interface (UX/UI) developer
- Product supervisor
- Data scientist or analyst
- Business intelligence expert
- Risk expert
After getting the Lean Six Sigma accreditation, an individual will have a comprehensive understanding of how to assess and evaluate the financial benefits of any Six Sigma initiative. Students will gain abilities in risk analysis and financial planning that are highly valued by middle- and upper-level management for senior management roles.
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As you progress in your career, managerial capabilities, and strategic skills are as crucial as technical work. Certifications like Lean Six Sigma help organizations save hundreds and thousands of dollars in project waste, which means that there is high demand for certified professionals. However, aspirants should remember that reaching Blak Belt status is an effort-intensive process, requiring rigorous study and application. The investment is usually worth the high salaries that Lean Six Sigma-certified professionals earn worldwide.
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