Which Certification is Right for You – Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma?

Which Certification is Right for You – Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma?

Eshna Verma

Published on March 18, 2015


If you are looking forward to a career opportunity in Quality Management under manufacturing, pharmaceutical, healthcare, technology or service industry, it is most likely that your prospective employer will prefer your resume if you are Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma qualified.

If you are considering a career move in the arena of quality management then you can take up the Six Sigma Green Belt certification while if you are an experienced professional working on Six Sigma projects for more than three years and look forward to manage Six Sigma projects full-time, you should consider taking up a Six Sigma Black Belt certification.

As the world is moving towards Lean Six Sigma, and most organizations adopting the collaborative approach of Lean and Six Sigma for quality management, it is recommended to take up a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt for beginners. If you already have a Six Sigma Green Belt (SSGB) or Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB) or don’t have any of these but have enough experience in Lean Six Sigma projects you can take up the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB) to master the art of managing Lean Six Sigma-based projects.

If you look forward to mentor and train professionals, consult on projects, and involve yourself in strategy building for an organization, then the Master Black Belt (Six Sigma Master Black Belt or Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt) certification is recommended for you.

Choosing the Right Accreditation Body             

Global Accreditation Brings Credibility

As there is no official body designated to solely conduct Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma trainings and grant certifications to qualified professional, many companies have developed their own guidelines and offer trainings and certifications. However there are two accrediting bodies that are the most noted and recognized by the leading global organizations and bodies.

American Society for Quality (ASQ), a global community of people dedicated to Quality & Six Sigma, ensures that professional training and certifications are conducted according to global industry standards. It is advisable to ensure that your Six Sigma training partner provides courseware accredited by or in accordance with the guidelines laid by ASQ. Please note that ASQ does not offer certification/accreditation for Lean Six Sigma, but offers certification/accreditation for all the levels of Six Sigma.

International Association of Six Sigma Certification (IASSC), similar to ASQ, is a reputed, third-party certification body that facilitates and delivers all Lean Six Sigma certification examinations for professionals who qualify eligibilities.

Choosing Your Training Partner

Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma both involve highly technical methods & tools, need thorough knowledge, and expertise in application of relevant concepts. In case you pick just any training and certification company for your training, there’s a good chance that you will not get standard training and industry related guidance.

Some pointers to keep in mind before enrolling to any training and certification institution:

Organization’s Accreditation

While choosing the training partner, make sure you choose one which is duly accredited by either ASQ or IASSC. The right accrediting body would depend on your course choice (Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma). Choosing the right accredited training partner would ensure that the training you are receiving is in accordance with the guidelines laid by the accrediting body. Also, you do not miss on any topics included in examination blueprints.

Mode of Training

You should consider a training partner that offers training in a mode that is suitable to you and you have options to choose from. Some training partners offer trainings under classroom workshops, instructor-led online classroom and online self-learning options. In such a situation, you have an option to choose the best fit according to your liking. We at Simplilearn believe that, instructor-led online classroom training is preferred by professionals over classroom workshops or an online self-learning course as it gives professionals a flexibility to attend a classroom session from experts from the ease of their home.

Training Duration

Some training partners offer you multiple duration option for the trainings. Some are crisp for a duration of one or two days, while other are more elaborated and spread across 4-5 day. Based on your pre-preparation level you can choose between the two.

You can consider Simplilearn as your training partner, as it offers you the flexibility to choose from various learning modes and has trained more than 200,000 professionals. Also, it is accredited by IASSC and ASQ for the respective course offerings.

Certification Eligibilities, Examinations and Responsibilities

Now that you know which is the most suited certification & training partner for you, you must be curious about the eligibility criteria, examination process, roles that you’ll be able to handle after having the certification, and what would be expected from you as a certified Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma professional. Let’s discuss these one by one.

Six Sigma Green Belt

EligibilityAs described earlier, ASQ requires candidates to have at least 3 years of full-time experience in one or more areas mentioned in the SSGB Body of knowledge.

Examination Each candidate needs to pass a written, multiple-choice exam conducted by ASQ. The exam is 4-hour long and comprises of 100 questions to measure comprehension of the body of knowledge. It is noteworthy that the exam is offered only in English Language.

Roles you might take up – Assistance with data collection and analysis for Black Belt projects. Lead Green Belt projects or teams.

NoteSSGB has lifetime validity and does not require recertification.

Six Sigma Black Belt

Eligibility ASQ clearly states that ‘You do NOT need to be a Certified Six Sigma Green Belt’ however you need to complete two projects with signed affidavits OR one completed project with signed affidavit and three years of work experience in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Black Belt Body of Knowledge.

Examination Just like CSSGB examination, each candidate is required to pass a written examination of 150 questions for ASQ to measure your comprehension of the Body of Knowledge. It’s a 4-hour long examination offered in English language.

Roles you might take up - Lead problem-solving projects. Train and coach project teams.

RecertificationThe Six Sigma black belt certification is valid for three years from date of certification awarded. In order to renew your certification, you need to either document 18 RU credits or take up the examination again.

Six Sigma Master Black Belt

EligibilityTo be eligible to apply for the Master Black Belt Examination, a candidate MUST hold a current ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) certificate. In addition, he/she MUST have either of the following experience levels.

At least 5 years of experience in the role of a Six Sigma Black Belt or Master Black Belt.
Completion of 10 Six Sigma Black Belt projects.

Candidates must be able to meet these minimum eligibility requirements to have their portfolio reviewed.

Portfolio Review Only if a candidate meets the above eligibility criteria, his/her portfolio will be considered for review. A review panel evaluates candidate’s SSBB and MBB work. Once the portfolio is approved by the panel, the candidate can register to take up the MBB examination.

ExaminationOnce you receive the approval from the panel on your portfolio, you can register for the MBB examination. This is a 5-hour exam that measures your knowledge and application of theoretical concepts to real-life situations. The examination uses two components to measure two different kinds of skills sets.

- 100 multiple-choice questions check comprehension of knowledge.
- To check the applicability, a performance-based assessment is done, which requires candidates to evaluate and respond to situation-specific materials. The examination is offered only in English.

Now that we have talked enough of Six Sigma and let’s talk about Lean Six Sigma –

International Association of Six Sigma Certification (IASSC)

It is one of the most reputed, third-party certification body that facilitates and delivers centralized universal Lean Six Sigma Certification Examination.

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

EligibilityThere are no set eligibility requirements for taking up the IASSC Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Examination. However in-depth understanding of Lean and Six Sigma concepts would help in reducing the preparation time for the certification exam.

Examination - In order to become IASSC Certified Green Belt (ICGB) from the International Association for Six Sigma Certification, candidates are required to take up a written examination of 100 multiple choice and T/F questions in 3 hours. Also, they must score a minimum of 385 points out of 500 to pass the exam.

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Eligibility There are NO prerequisites required in order to sit for the IASSC Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Exam.

Examination For getting an IASSC Certified Black Belt (ICBB), one has to write and pass a 4-hour long examination. The exam consists of 150 questions with approximately 30 multiple-choice and true/false questions from each major section of the IBoK for Black Belts. To clear the exam, one has to achieve a minimum score of 580 points out of a total potential of 750 points.
We wish you all the best for your certification journey!

About the Author

Eshna writes on PMP, PRINCE2, ITIL, ITSM, & Ethical Hacking. She has done her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT, and The Telegraph. She loves travelling and photography.


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