Best Six Sigma Certifications

Improve business process efficiency and effectiveness

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Six Sigma is a process to optimize production, efficiency, and effectiveness, and has been adopted by companies all over the world that want to increase profits and reduce defects using the main steps in a Six Sigma Process: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (or DMAIC). 

The best certification providers offer quality education with flexibility and have a great track record for both customer service and helping students pass their certification exams. We reviewed 36 different Six Sigma certification providers to determine the best options available. Read on for our top choices.

The Best Six Sigma Certifications for 2021

Best Overall : American Society for Quality

American Society for Quality

American Society for Quality

Why We Chose It: American Society for Quality (ASQ) is the best overall Six Sigma Certification provider because of its global reputation, rigorous exam prep and training, focus on subject mastery, and certification registry.

What We Like
  • Worldwide recognition for quality

  • Provides a certification verification registry

  • Focuses on subject mastery versus simply passing the exam

What We Don’t Like
  • Must take your proctored exam during specific testing windows

  • Certifications need to be renewed at least every five years

  • Doesn’t offer Lean Six Sigma certification

ASQ was founded in 1946 and has members in over 130 countries. Aside from Six Sigma, it offers certification and training in management, foundational quality, inspector/technician, engineering, and auditing. It’s the best overall Six Sigma certification provider because of its standards for quality, global recognition, and dedication to subject matter mastery. 

Training materials consist of a handbook, study guide, question bank, and certification prep. The certification prep is offered self-paced and online only for the Yellow Belt. However, both Green and Black Belt offer the certification prep self-paced online, in a classroom, and live virtual. The time it takes to study for the exam depends on how fast you get through the materials. However, expect it to take two to six weeks. 

You can choose from Six Sigma Yellow, Green, and Black Belts, and each comes with its own costs and experience requirements. Yellow Belt has no experience requirement and costs $394. Green Belt requires three years of on-the-job work experience and costs $438. Black Belt requires three years of on-the-job work experience and one completed project with a signed affidavit; it costs $538 and ASQ members save $100 on certifications.

After training, you must take your test during a specific testing window at a proctored exam site with Prometric. Your exam is open-book, but you must bring your own reference materials.  If you fail your test, you can retake the exam at a discount for up to two years after you failed—there’s no limit to how many times you retake it. You just have to pay for the exam each time you do so.

Because ASQ doesn’t offer Lean Six Sigma, consider using an International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC) provider for your Lean certification. This is an organization that accredits certification providers.

Best Value : International Six Sigma Institute

International Six Sigma Institute

International Six Sigma Institute

Why We Chose It: International Six Sigma Institute (ISSI) offers affordable lifetime access to course materials and future updates.

What We Like
  • Pay as little as $49 for certification

  • 100% money-back guarantee

  • Only requires an exam score of 60% to pass

What We Don’t Like
  • No experience requirements for certification

  • Don’t have to complete a project for any of the Belts

Founded in 2011 and with clients in 143 countries, International Six Sigma Institute offers affordable Six Sigma certifications costing as little as $49 for some Belts, plus the courses come with a money-back guarantee. 

You can choose from the following Six Sigma certifications:

  • Green Belt ($69)
  • Black Belt ($99)
  • Master Black Belt ($149)
  • Champion ($149)
  • Deployment Leader ($149)
  • Yellow Belt ($49)
  • Trainer ($199)
  • Coach ($199)

Each class comes with lifetime access to the online education portal and future updates, and your training also includes live monthly Q&A sessions. 

You have one year to take your certification exam after paying for the online program. After passing, there are no recertification requirements or fees. There are no project or affidavit requirements for any of the Belts nor do you have to have work experience to test. 

Most people take one to four days to adequately prepare to pass the exam, while some can digest the material in just a couple of hours and pass. Each test has 50 questions and takes 60 minutes. A score of 60% is required to pass your exam. You get 10 tries at taking it and if you don’t pass, International Six Sigma Institute will give you your money back. 

Once you’ve passed your exam, you do not have to recertify.

Best Self-Paced Program : Lean Six Sigma Institute

Lean Six Sigma Institute

Lean Six Sigma Institute

Why We Chose It: The Lean Six Sigma Institute (LSSI) gives students six months to complete the self-paced training and students can save over 50% on self-paced materials compared to the instructor-led training.

What We Like
  • Up to six months to use the training material after starting the course

  • Offers self-paced training at a steep discount

  • Can speed up videos up to 2x to listen faster

What We Don’t Like
  • No experience requirements for certification

  • Must be motivated to get through the self-study material

Lean Six Sigma Institute (LSSI) has been a provider of Lean Six Sigma certifications since 1998. With this self-paced program, you get access to a community of Lean Six Sigma practitioners to lean on for support, and you can complete your training using your PC, tablet, or mobile device. Aside from receiving a significant discount compared to instructor-led training, you can also hire a coach for additional help if needed.

Training time varies, taking as little as 10 hours self-paced, or 15 hrs instructor-led, for the Lean Champion Belt. For the most advanced training, Lean Master Black Belt, expect around 68 hours for self-paced study or 160 hours of instructor-led training. Self-paced training should take you approximately nine weeks to finish. 

LSSI offers these Belts at the following prices:

  • Lean Yellow ($599 self-paced, $1,299 instructor-led)
  • Lean Green ($999 self-paced, $2,399 instructor-led)
  • Lean Black ($1,499 self-paced, $3,499 instructor-led)
  • Lean Master Black ($1,997 self-paced coming soon, $4,599 instructor-led)
  • Lean Champion ($299 self-paced, $999 instructor-led)

In addition to discounts for self-led classes, you can also receive a discount if you have a certification at a lower Belt. For example, if you already have your Lean Yellow Belt, instead of paying $999 for the self-paced Green Belt, you pay $599. 

Course prices include six months of Minitab Workspace, video demonstrations, downloadable content, and your exam. You have two days from the date of purchase to get a refund if you aren’t satisfied with the course material, and two attempts to pass the exam are included in your course price. If you fail both times, you must re-purchase the course.  

To receive your certificate, you must receive 80% on your exam. Then, to receive Lean International Certification for any of the Belts, you must present a Lean Six Sigma project demonstrating Lean practices.

Best for Managers : Villanova University

Villanova University

Villanova University

Why We Chose It: Villanova University’s online courses offer simulated projects and advanced animations preparing you for real-world applications.

What We Like
  • Completely online

  • Exam fee included in tuition

  • Belt from another organization may count towards advanced Belts

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

  • Only offers the Six Sigma Green Belt, and the rest are Lean Six Sigma Belts

  • No rolling start dates

Founded in 1842, Villanova University is a private institution known for offering the best business school in the nation, which lends a certain credibility to its Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma certificate. With his 30 years of experience, professor Marv Meissner focuses on skills highly applicable to managers like process mapping, potential problem analysis, decision analysis, and other problem-solving tools. 

Each class requires a different time commitment. For instance, the Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt course takes 12 weeks whereas the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt takes 16 weeks. The remainder of the courses take eight weeks. 

To take the advanced Belt courses, you must have the previous tier certificate. For example, to take the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt course, you must have a Six Sigma Green Belt. With University approval, your Belt with other institutions may count towards this requirement. 

Lean Six Sigma courses and prices are as follows:

  • Lean Six Sigma Sensei ($2,295)
  • Six Sigma Green Belt ($2,495)
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt ($4,095)
  • Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt  ($3,495)

Note that your exam fee is included in the course price. 

Active-duty service members, Guardsmen and Reservists, veterans, spouses, and dependents can receive 15% savings on each course. Your employer may reimburse the purchase of your course, and discounts are offered for groups of five or more students.  

Course materials include live online weekly classes, videos, online learning tools, and simulated projects. After completing the course and the required class project, you receive a certificate and then can sit for the certification exam provided by Villanova.

Best Lean Program : GreyCampus

GreyCampus

GreyCampus

Why We Chose It: GreyCampus is an IASSC-accredited training provider and the majority of students pass their certification exams thanks to its comprehensive coursework and supplemental boot camps.

What We Like
  • Full-length practice exams

  • Gamified learning modules

  • Students have a 96.3% exam passing rate

What We Don’t Like
  • Must recertify within three years

  • Some courses only provide access to content for six months

  • Lean Six Sigma certifications through GreyCampus don’t have prerequisites or work experience requirements

GreyCampus is a Six Sigma training provider founded in 2014, and in addition to its Six Sigma certifications, it also offers Professional Development Units towards project management credentials. You’ll also be able to take simulated exams and receive exam analytics to see exactly what you need to work on to pass your real Lean Six Sigma exam.

Training and certification courses and prices include:

  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt ($270, $880 with Bootcamp)
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt ($360, $1,210 with Bootcamp)
  • Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training Course (exam optional, $180)
  • Lean Six Sigma Green & Black Belt Combo ($590, $1,770 with Bootcamp)
  • Six Sigma Yellow Belt ($180)
  • Six Sigma Green Belt ($270)
  • Six Sigma Black Belt ($360)

Your coursework is self-paced, aside from Bootcamps, and takes approximately 110 hours. Bootcamps consist of live four-day or five-day online classes. You can attend as many Bootcamps you want within six months of registering for the course, provided it’s offered in your particular package.

There are no prerequisites for the Lean Six Sigma courses. However, the Six Sigma Green Belt course requires three years of work experience, and the Six Sigma Black Belt requires you to have the Green Belt or two years of work experience and have completed process improvement projects. 

Exams are proctored, but taken from home through a website. You must take the exam within one year of registering for the course. However, for some courses, you only have access to the material for six months so make sure to complete the coursework and exam within that time frame. 

If you have questions or technical issues, student support is available 24/7.

Final Verdict

Earning your Six Sigma certification sets you apart from peers, and can earn you a promotion at work. If you’re not working, it can also help you land a job as it looks great on your resume. Most certifications take less than six months to complete, and your organization may even pay for it if they don’t already have a path to certification in-house. 

While there are several quality options for your Six Sigma certification, we recommend starting with the American Society for Quality for your Six Sigma certification needs because of its dedication to quality and it focuses on implementation versus simply passing your test. However, which one you select depends on your goals, your budget, and the time you have to take a course. Make sure you do your research before selecting a program.

Compare Providers

Best Six Sigma Certification
Company Name Wins For Certification Cost Levels Certified
American Society for Quality  Best Overall $294 to $2879 Green Belt Yellow Belt Black Belt Master Black Belt
International Six Sigma Institute Best Value $49 to $199 Green Belt Black Belt Master Black Belt Champion  Deployment Leader  Yellow Belt  Trainer  Coach 
Lean Six Sigma Institute Best Self-Paced Program $299 to $4,599 Lean Yellow Belt Lean Green Belt Lean Black Belt Lean Master Black Belt Lean Champion 
Villanova University Best for Managers $2495 + certification exam fees of $0 to $370  Six Sigma Green Belt Lean Six Sigma Sensei Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt
GreyCampus Best Lean Program $180 to $1,770 Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Six Sigma Yellow Belt Six Sigma Green Belt Six Sigma Black Belt

FAQs

What Is Six Sigma Certification? 

Six Sigma certification is a certification based on a methodology created by Bill Smith in 1986 to reduce waste, improve efficiency, and increase effectiveness. There are two certification tracks to consider—Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma. Both work towards the same goal of eliminating waste and improving efficiency. The difference is Six Sigma works to have consistent results and reduce defects, and Lean focuses on eliminating waste and increasing speed. 

Generally speaking, each track has the following Belt designations: 

  • White Belt: Gives a basic understanding of Six Sigma processes and helps support projects (many certification providers don’t even offer this level as it’s often included in Yellow Belt certification)
  • Yellow Belt: A more advanced understanding of Six Sigma compared to White Belt, but isn’t yet leading projects on their own
  • Green Belt: Has an advanced understanding and leads their own projects or serves as a team member under a Black Belt
  • Black Belt: Leads teams, provides coaching and advice to management and employees, and works under a Master Black Belt
  • Master Black Belt: Leads Six Sigma efforts across the organization

You need a Six Sigma certification if you want a promotion or to work as a leader in your organization. It can also help you land a job at other companies. Organizations desire Six Sigma-certified employees because they help improve business process efficiency and effectiveness. 

How Do I Get My Six Sigma Certification? 

To get your Six Sigma certification, you must enroll in a certification course and pass an exam. Sometimes employers offer certification directly through their own organization. Otherwise, you can enroll in a course offered by universities, colleges, or certification companies.

While taking your course, you will learn about Six Sigma and how to apply it in the real world. Most courses also require a Six Sigma project to demonstrate proficiency before you take your certification exam. 

After passing your exam, you earn a Belt designation. These operate a lot like karate belts as you must pass the first Belt to advance to the next one. Most companies offer a Yellow, Green, Black, and Master Black Belt. 

How Much Does Six Sigma Certification Cost?

Many companies provide their employees with in-house Six Sigma certification or pay for certification with a third party. However, people can receive their Six Sigma certification without going through their employer by taking a course on their own. 

If you choose to take a course on your own, be advised that the cost for certification can vary, ranging anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. The more expensive options tend to have a live teaching component, whether virtual or in-person, and an in-depth project to complete.  

The higher belts might also come with a higher cost, and there might be a separate fee for the exam. Research all costs, including any potential discounts, before picking a course. 

Is There an Official Six Sigma Certification? 

There is no official Six Sigma Certification. Despite some organizations claiming to be the official standard for Six Sigma certification or accreditation, there is also no official body governing companies offering certification. Some of those fake "official" organizations try to steer consumers away from legitimate Six Sigma certification providers. 

However, two organizations, in particular, are recognized as the closest thing to the regulation of this industry. The American Society for Quality (ASQ), which is a globally-recognized company offering training and certification according to industry standards—as well as a certification verification registry. The second is the International Association of Six Sigma Certification (IASSC) accredited courses for Lean Six Sigma.  

Are Six Sigma Certifications Worth It? 

Not only does having a Six Sigma certification look great on the resume, but it can also help you earn more money. A study published by the American Society for Quality shows Six Sigma certified professionals earn more money per year compared to employees without their certification—an average of $16,411 per year for any Belt, and up to $26,123 more if you have your Master Black Belt.

How Long Does It Take to Get Six Sigma Certification?

Taking into account the classwork, any project work, and studying for and taking the exam, most Six Sigma certifications take around six months to complete. However, some Six Sigma training and certification providers don’t require projects at all, and students can complete their training in a few hours and then take the exam.          

Methodology

We evaluated 36 different Six Sigma certification providers and narrowed them down to the best options based on several features and considerations. We assessed course flexibility, costs, global recognition, and company reputation. Reviews of customer service, success rates, and quality of training also weighed heavily into our decision—the certification process should be a pleasant experience for students while giving them tools to implement in the real world. 

All of our picks have robust course offerings, reasonable price points, and a great reputation for helping students achieve their Six Sigma certification upon taking the exam the first time.

Article Sources

  1. American Society for Quality. Six Sigma Belts, Levels, and Roles.