The Cost Effective Approach to obtaining a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification

Six Sigma is a problem solving methodology with deep roots in applying statistical tools and the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach to reduce operational variance and produce significant financial gains. Six Sigma Black Belts lead large Six Sigma projects which require full-time focus and more in-depth expertise. Adding a Six Sigma Black Belt certification is a great way to increase your salary and add more value to your organization. According to Glassdoor the average base pay for a Six Sigma Black Belt is $96,637 (see graphic below).

Blackbelt Salary

Source: Glassdoor

As there is no formal body for issuing Six Sigma accreditations, professionals may turn to a variety of organizations for certification including many major universities which now offer certification programs. Though other options exist (e.g. independent agencies & consultants) this article will compare the cost of online programs through major universities and the American Society of Quality (ASQ)’s certification program.

Online Programs

Online programs such as Villanova and Arizona State University provide individuals with a classroom experience taught by University faculty. For individuals requiring the structure and discipline of traditional education (i.e. deadlines and structured coursework) online programs may be a great option; however, the added benefits of formalized education come at a price. Arizona State University’s online Six Sigma Black Belt certification comes with a steep $11,010 ($914 per credit hour for 15 credit hours) price tag. As a result, such programs are likely only affordable for individuals working for organizations which offer tuition reimbursement; however, such benefits tend to come with “strings” attached (i.e. multi year commitments).

ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt Certification

The Six Sigma Black Belt certification offered by the ASQ provides individuals capable of studying on their own with a much more cost effective alternative. In order to qualify, applicants must submit an affidavit signed by a project champion attesting to the completion of a Six Sigma project, along with a $538 fee ($388 for ASQ members). Applicants will then need to sit and pass an exam demonstrating their knowledge of Six Sigma principles (Source). Though the ASQ approach requires self discipline (independent studying) it comes with a cost that is an order of magnitude lower than major universities. Furthermore, though individuals are required to submit an affidavit attesting to the completion of a Six Sigma project, many Engineering and Quality professionals with several years of experience have likely led a project that meets with requirements.

Professionals looking to add additional credentials to their resume and increase their value to their organizations by becoming certified Six Sigma Black Belts have a variety of options, including the two choices outlined in this post. Major university offer programs taught by faculty, often online, which provide students with structured coursework and deadlines to aid those lacking the discipline to study on their own for a hefty price. ASQ on the other hand provides professionals with a cost effective way to become Six Sigma certified for those able to study on their own.


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