Published On: Thu, May 23rd, 2019

What Do You Need to Become Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certified?

Six Sigma is one of the popular techniques that result-oriented companies use to implement a robust quality management and control system. Before, Six Sigma was used to optimize manufacturing processes, but now it is being used in virtually every industry to reduce costs and boost profits by removing wasteful tendencies. From pharmacy to aeronautics, pizza delivery, and retail, it is critical for quality managers across all industries to consider investing in Six Sigma black belt certification.

Below is an overview of Six Sigma, certification levels, and what you can expect from each.

First things first: what is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a quality management technique that seeks to reduce or remove the wastes and defects in a business’ goods and services altogether. It uses statistical measurements and data analysis to help its implementers optimize all business operations to boost profitability and returns on the resources employed. First discovered by engineer Bill Smith to improve the profitability of Motorola Inc factory, it is now applied globally by thousands of successful businesses, the most notable ones being Xerox and 3M.

Businesses have a team of professionals to analyze their operational data and have measures in place to continually improve towards Six Sigma (yield of 99.99966% or 3.4 defects per million). Six Sigma sources suggest that a “normally distributed process with a normal distribution variation around the mean would need specification limits of ±6 sigma to produce less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.”

This data is mostly centered on product manufacturing or service delivery, and the standard deviation (sigma) from between the mean and the quality specification limit is determined. Even though a business may not reach Six Sigma, reaching four sigma (99.38%, 6210 defects per million) or five sigma (99.977%, 230 defects per million) will significantly boost their ROI and improve customer satisfaction. Other areas that see marked improvements are cycle times and better compliance with industry quality standards.

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Six Sigma Certifications

Lean Six Sigma certifications are offered by several approved certification organizations, such as the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC) or American Society of Quality (ASQ). If you would like to pursue a qualification in Six Sigma, you need to carry out some research into the different programs offered across various bodies to commit themselves to the right one.

However, you can expect these chronological belt levels, though the content provided may differ with each certification body, with the costs charged by the ASQ:

  1. Certified Yellow belt training (CSSYB)

Companies looking to roll out the Six Sigma way of doing things will start by enrolling their teams on a yellow belt training program. This program will help bring all staff on board and teach them the basics on Six Sigma methodology and jargon.

Costs: $394, $294 for ASQ members

  1. Certified Six Sigma green belt (CSSGB)

This level is most suitable for professionals in production, operations and quality management who are most interested in the long term application of Six Sigma in their careers. It serves as a great starting point, after whose coursework you will have to pass a 100-multi-choice question exam. The coursework mostly involves theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and analysis of case studies that will help demonstrate the application of Six Sigma tools.

Extra emphasis is placed on the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC tool, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. DMAIC is a useful methodology used to optimize existing processes.


To qualify for a Lean Six Sigma green belt certification, you need to have had at least three years of full-time employment in jobs based on process improvement (excluding internships).

Cost: $438, $338 for ASQ members

  1. Certified Six Sigma Blackbelt training (CSSBB)

This is the next level on the Six Sigma certifications tier, offering you an advanced level of training geared at getting you the mastery you need to be an effective leader in Six Sigma. Your curriculum will involve mastering the use of advanced strategies and techniques as well as all the Six Sigma philosophies. This will help you become an expert in applying various metrics to solve diverse improvement challenges. Again, since holders of lower certifications will be reporting to you as a certified Black Belt team leader, the curriculum also includes rigorous team management training. At the end of the training, you will take a 150-question multiple-choice exam.


To obtain a lean Six Sigma black belt certifications, must first get green belt training and have had three years of full-time paid employment in a core knowledge area, plus accomplishment in two Six Sigma projects.

Cost: $538, $438 for ASQ members

  1. Master Black belt training (MBB)

The MBB is the most prestigious and sought after Six Sigma credential. Its rigorous curriculum will involve a detailed application of Six Sigma tools to effectively lead full-scale projects, interpreting and averting risk and monitoring the improvement over a vast range of diverse projects. MBBs are also required to teach and mentor other professionals and come up with innovative projects and solutions in addition to possessing a full understanding of all advanced Six Sigma tools. The certification exam consists of two exams, a multiple choice test, and a practical knowledge and skills assessment.

How to Become Certified?

To obtain approval to take the Master black belt certification exam, you need to have a black belt certification and at least five years experience in a relevant field. However, if you have completed 10 Six Sigma projects and can show proof, then the five years’ work experience may be waived.

You also need to submit a portfolio of work done after you obtained your black belt certification. A team of MBB experts will assess your portfolio, and to do the exam, you must reach their minimum score. The key performance indicators include Teaching, Coaching and Mentoring, Technical Experience, and Occupational Responsibility.

To have your portfolio reviewed, you will need to meet the requirements above; if you are successful, the MBB experts will receive an approval letter. Otherwise, you will receive feedback on why your application failed.

Costs: Portfolio review $650, exam fee $2229

ASQ members: $545, $2124


Professionals with Six Sigma certifications are highly sought after countrywide for their role in improving the quality of products, reducing wastes and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Author: Kiran Kumar

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