Pursuing your certification in Six Sigma methodology has a ton of career benefits. Not only does it give you distinction as a project manager, but Six Sigma certification is also applicable to nearly any industry that deals directly with consumers.
Because Six Sigma is relentlessly focused on identifying problems and inefficiencies in production and removing them, many businesses are on the hunt for qualified practitioners. In the methodology, these practitioners are labeled by belt colors, and as with most organizational training, the certification costs tend to rise with each level or “belt.”
List of Six Sigma Belts and Their Differences
We’ll go over the different belt colors- White, Yellow, Green and Black – and what they mean in terms of knowledge and certification costs. But there is one important thing to note in the world of Six Sigma certification; unlike the project management exams and certifications, there is no centralized organization that sets the standard for certifications like the Project Management Institute (PMI).
Instead, certification revolves around the master Black Belt, and may even be a little more industry-specific. The Black Belt is ultimately responsible for training and certifying new Six Sigma practitioners: maybe a consultant, teacher or an accredited member of the organization you currently work for.
This is not to say that organizations don’t exist exclusively for accreditation. In fact, there are several to choose from!
These (occasionally) competing organizations are:
- The Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC)
- American Society for Quality (ASQ)
- The International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC)
Earning your certification is possible through any of these top-recognized organizations, through your school, small training sessions, or even with self-paced materials.
Because there are so many ways to obtain Six Sigma certification and no governing body to set an overall standard, we will focus on comparing and contrasting the costs associated with these three main bodies for the purpose of this article.
Let’s dive into the different levels of Six Sigma Certification, and the costs associated with each!
Six Sigma White Belt Certification Cost
The Six Sigma White Belt Certification is a great place to start for individuals who are just starting out on their Six Sigma journey. An individual who has earned their White Belt has demonstrated an understanding of the basic levels of Six Sigma, including history, structure, and practice.
As a beginning step, White Belt certification is relatively low-cost; in fact, it is even free through the CSSC! The study materials for this certification are also free, indicating a relatively low value.
Individuals who are familiar with the methodology are welcome to sit for the exam immediately with no formal study requirement. Other organizations charge around $100 for an all-day comprehensive training for which you will earn your certification.
The IASSC and ASQ do not offer formal certification for a White Belt.
Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification Cost
Although you don’t have to be a White Belt before you’re a Yellow Belt, or even be a Yellow Belt before you’re a Green Belt, the certification is a handy indicator of your progress in Six Sigma.
The Yellow Belt would be the next step up from the White Belt and signifies that you are well-versed in the foundational elements of the Six Sigma methodology.
So how is the Yellow Belt different from the White Belt?
A Yellow Belt signifies an individual who participates in improvement projects led by Green or Black Belts. Essentially, a Yellow Belt is a team member who is used to improve projects or even leads limited projects themselves. While a White Belt has probably never participated in an improvement project before, a Yellow Belt knows their way around a project team.
This distinction can also help to set you apart from the workforce as someone who can participate in improvement projects. Chances are higher that you’ll be selected to be part of an improvement project and gain more experience when holding this certification.
The ASQ recommends entry-level employees interested in supporting projects or assisting in data collection, analysis, and/or process management obtain this certification. It is also recommended for company higher-ups who would benefit from a survey of the core concepts of the Six Sigma methodology.
The cost of sitting for the Yellow Belt exam varies depending on the organization you use. It is $195 USD for a certification through the IASSC. The CSSC charges quite a bit less, with a price tag of $79. In contrast, the ASQ charges $394 to non-members for its Yellow Belt certification but you can save $100 by becoming a member, and a sizable discount will be applied to future certifications through the ASQ.
If you decide to be certified through a local provider, your school, or another independent program, your costs will vary; however, most are under $200 for their Yellow Belt certification costs.
Cost of Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
A Green Belt Certification is the level that begins to distinguish someone with Six Sigma knowledge (a Yellow Belt) from someone who can lead Six Sigma projects within an organization.
Green Belts are capable of identifying problems and their solutions in a company and leading projects that center around these process improvements. Having this distinction in the job market will give you an enormous edge over your competition; after all, Green Belts possess the working knowledge of efficiency and process improvements that Six Sigma is most well known for.
Because of the higher level of experience that the Green Belt certification indicates, there are often qualifications or prerequisites before sitting for the exam.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) has the following requirements for their Green Belt certification program:
- Three years of full-time on-the-job experience, with pay, in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Green Belt Body of Knowledge
- Prerequisite expectations:
- Worked when supported or supervised by a Black Belt
- Analyzed and solved quality problems
- Completed projects involving quality improvements
- Participated in a project without assuming a leadership role
- Possesses the ability to demonstrate knowledge of Six Sigma tools and processes
ASQ members can take the exam for $338 and nonmembers can expect to pay $438 for the exam. Retakes are charged at $238.
The Council for Six Sigma Certification (CSSC) offers Green Belt Certification in two steps. The first is the standard Six Sigma Green Belt certification, and then an additional Green Belt II Certification for those who wish to further prove their proficiency in this level of Six Sigma. The latter certification cannot be obtained without completing the basic Green Belt certification through CSSC.
The Six Sigma Green Belt Certification through CSSC is $119. The Six Sigma Green Belt Certification – Level II is an additional certification that can be obtained when an individual submits a completed Six Sigma project for evaluation. The application for this process costs $300.
The IASSC Six Sigma Green Belt certification does not have any prerequisites; training is recommended for the exam but is not required. Their exam fee costs $295.
Be sure to check out the top rated Six Sigma Green Belt Courses here!
Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Cost
For serious Six Sigma professionals, Black Belt is the standard to aspire to. Black Belts are the leader of the Six Sigma implementation process on projects and at various companies. They lead project teams, manage the process, and maintain strict accountability: both to themselves and those working underneath them on the project team to implement a Six Sigma vision.
Not only is it necessary to master the technical aspects of Six Sigma for Black Belt certification; clear and effective communication is also a must. Once you obtain this level, you become a teacher, leader, and trainer in the company and to the key stakeholder.
As a Black Belt, you will define and manage project teams comprised of Green Belts and Yellow Belts as well as head organization-wide improvements. The role is enormous, challenging and rewarding, and it all begins with the certification.
The most stringent organization through which to obtain a Black Belt certification is the ASQ. They require hopeful applicants to have completed two projects with signed affidavits: alternatively, at least one project, three years of full-time work experience, and a signed affidavit.
To sit for the exam, ASQ members must pay $438 and non-members must pay $538.
CSSC does not have requirements for their Standard Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. Instead, they administer Black Belt Certification in levels. The basic level has a cost of $159. After completing this, an applicant can sit for the Level II exam for $300.
To obtain the Level II Black Belt exam, an applicant must have obtained the standard from either CSSC, IASSCm, or ASQ. They must also submit one project for approval.
Two additional levels are available past the Level II. The Level III and Master Black Belt certifications require additional projects and, in the case of the Master Black Belt, at least 4 years of leading Six Sigma projects in a Black Belt capacity. The Level III certification costs $300, and the Master Black Belt level will cost you $665 to sit for the exam.
Finally, the IASSC charges $395 to sit for their version of the Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Like the ASQ, the IASSC certification does not carry any prerequisites.
Compare the best Six Sigma Black Belt Certification courses!
Which Six Sigma Certification Is Right For You?
Determining which level of Six Sigma certification is right for you is ultimately a personal choice. Many factors can influence your decision, including professional career goals, the goals of your current organization and the industry you work in (or hope to work in).
In short, the White Belt and Yellow Belt certifications are a great crash course for any member of a company. They signify a knowledge of the basic components of Six Sigma and aren’t too involved.
Individuals working to lead projects and create change in their organizations would do well to obtain a Green Belt or Black Belt certification. Not only will the certification costs be well worth it in the long run, but these two certifications will also have an immense impact on career prospects both now and in the future.