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How to Study for Six Sigma
Six Sigma certification is a strong professional certification in a marketplace that values those with a proven ability to improve the bottom line and product quality.
Six Sigma certifications such as the Six Sigma black belt are treated by some employers like MBAs, with pay raises available to those who achieve additional education. Six Sigma black belts stepping out into the consulting world can earn 80K or more for their expertise.
How do you study for Six Sigma certification? And how do you find a legitimate Six Sigma program that fits your objectives?
Necessary Research Before You Start Studying for a Six Sigma Certificate
- Select a Six Sigma certification level to achieve. Do you need a basic understanding of Six Sigma to complement your job? You should look into Six Sigma white belt or green belt certification. Or will you be working as a Six Sigma expert, whether as a consultant or training and managing Six Sigma teams? You should seek Six Sigma Black Belt training. Are you already a Six Sigma Black Belt but want higher certification or the ability to manage multiple Black Belts? You should take Master Black Belt training. I personally hold a Six Sigma green belt, allowing me to move between IT help desk management and process improvement initiatives in the IT department.
- Determine which Six Sigma program is appropriate for your situation. If your focus is quality, Six Sigma training is appropriate. If you need to balance resource management with quality, take Lean Six Sigma coursework.
- Decide whether or not you want training in the area or a certificate recognized by almost all employers. The Motorola and GE Six Sigma programs are recognized by other employers. Six Sigma training by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the professional organization for industrial engineers, or the American Society for Quality is widely recognized by many employers. Six Sigma training by junior colleges and for-profit schools may not be recognized by employers. Six Sigma coursework through a college, especially one with a strong engineering school, may cost as much as a Master's degree but carry with it professional recognition.
- Be careful of online Six Sigma courses, since the best programs require proof of concept by completing a Six Sigma project under the supervision of the Black Belt teaching the course before awarding the certification. Legitimate online six sigma courses do exist, but even these require supervised and validated projects be completed.
Six Sigma Coursework
- Enroll in the course. Six Sigma white belt and yellow belts are generally a few hours or a one day course. Green belts will take several days of courses in probability, project management, proper documentation and statistical analysis in addition to completing a short term project under the supervision of a Black Belt. Black belts spend four to six weeks in a class room in addition to the time spent working on a project in the field.
- Select a Six Sigma project that can be completed within a few weeks but supports a major business objective. Can you improve product throughput by eliminating a bottleneck? Is there a major quality problem that you can help resolve? The best projects support your current employer or will stand out on a resume when reviewed by a future employer. Good projects also provide recommendations for further improvements to be carried forward into the next quality circle.
Note: If you do not have an opportunity to do a Six Sigma project at work or do not have a job at all, talk to the instructor. You may be able to work with companies that hire interns from the college; you gain valuable experience while they would benefit from the project.
American Society for Quality
- ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality
ASQ, the global quality leader, offers memberships, tools, training, certifications, books and more on topics around quality assurance and improvement.
Completing the Six Sigma Program and Planning for the Rest of Your Career
- Complete a Six Sigma project. For those earning a white belt or yellow belt in Six Sigma, volunteer to support a green belt or Black Belt project to gain experience. Previous Six Sigma projects for lower belt certification cannot be reused for higher belt certifications. For those who have already earned a lower Six Sigma belt, you will need to complete a new, larger and more complex project.
- Document everything, since this project is an invaluable addition to your resume.
- Receive your Six Sigma certification. Ensure that the coursework is recorded by the educational institution in a form verifiable to employers. Do not walk away with only a printed certificate for your wall after spending thousands of dollars on the coursework.
- Use the financial receipt from your Six Sigma course to apply for employer educational assistance for reimbursement of your coursework. If it is not reimbursed by your employer, speak with a tax professional to determine whether or not the Six Sigma course can be deducted as a learning expense or business expense.
- The cost of six sigma training is often deductible as a business expense for engineers and consultants. Contact a tax professional to find out if tuition for the six sigma course can be deducted as a business expense or even an educational expense.