Online Six Sigma Certificate Programs and Training Options

Six Sigma is a system of quality management strategies developed by Motorola in the 1980s, designed to improve operating efficiencies by reducing defects and minimizing costs. Learn about online programs with Six Sigma courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

There are many online Six Sigma training programs offered through business schools, trade schools and extension programs. Online Six Sigma programs allow students to access course materials using several methods, but all proceed at the student's own pace, with no set course times.

Six Sigma programs are divided into various levels, each covering increasing levels of responsibility from entry-level workers to upper management. The programs cover skills such as leadership, business strategy and problem solving.

Combined with the required work experience, the completion of each level allows students to take the detailed certification exams that prove competency in the Six Sigma business principles. Recertification is required to maintain the designation.

Online Six Sigma Certificate Programs Overview

Like degrees of proficiency in many martial arts disciplines, levels of Six Sigma certification are described in belt colors. In general, black belts lead problem-solving teams consisting of experienced green belts, intermediate yellow belts and novice white belts. Upper management adherents who define overall goals are described as 'champions,' and those who oversee the efforts of an enterprise's various Six Sigma project teams are called 'executives.'

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) conducts a battery of examinations to confer nationally recognized Six Sigma certifications (www.asq.org). Many online schools offer Six Sigma training courses, and some include their own levels of certification along with their training.

Six Sigma Information

Six Sigma training is traditionally offered in business schools, extension or trade schools and is conducted on-site for interested business clients looking to train their own employees. Distance learning training programs are a natural extension of these delivery systems, offering students the added efficiencies of arranging online lessons to suit their own schedules.

Online courses come in several configurations. Some are Internet-based, self-directed interactive courses, some offer online text materials and presentations, and some mail out textbooks and conduct examinations online. Analytical and statistical software is sometimes included for students to evaluate the effectiveness of their own projects.

Other than a computer with audio-visual support, a browser and a high-speed Internet connection, online Six Sigma training courses generally do not have additional hardware or software requirements. Some programs may specify a particular browser, but most support both Windows and Mac platforms.

Some Common Six Sigma Courses

Courses at each level of Six Sigma certification typically include a basic training primer and an exam preparation guide. Other courses review the bodies of knowledge covered by specialized positions within the Six Sigma hierarchy, such as calibration technician, biomedical auditor, quality inspector and quality expert.

Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training

Yellow Belts have a basic knowledge of Six Sigma methodologies and can participate as project members or subject matter experts, but not as project leaders. The first part of Yellow Belt training incorporates the more basic White Belt training, then continues with how to develop process maps and run small process improvement tasks.

Six Sigma Green Belt Training

Green Belts are trained in the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) model of problem-solving. Graduates learn to lead small-scale improvement projects, and conduct analyses or collect data for larger Black Belt projects.

Master Six Sigma Black Belt Training

Black Belts are the project leaders of the Six Sigma system, acting as trainers and coaches for project teams. With experience, Black Belts can qualify as Master Black Belts, in order to supervise several projects and become more involved in their company's product strategy decisions. After completing training and passing the examination, candidates must demonstrate three years of work experience or two completed projects to qualify as Black Belts; five years of experience or ten projects leads to Master Black Belt qualification.


Career Information for Six Sigma

According to PayScale.com, the median annual wage for Six Sigma Black Belts with 5-9 years of experience was $85,300 in 2016. However, the range of jobs for which an employee might seek Six Sigma certification is varied, and the figure should be viewed in the context of a specific position.

Certification Information

In order to sit for an ASQ Six Sigma certification examination, candidates must meet prerequisite and experience criteria. A degree from a school accredited by ASQ may be used to fulfill part of the experience requirement. ASQ offers each examination at least twice yearly out of their many regional offices, but the exams are not available online. Exams may last as long as five hours, and are open-book.

ASQ certification lasts for three years. Submitting documentation for 18 recertification units - earned from employment, courses, committee involvement, workshops and publications - can automatically recertify applicants for another three years. Applicants with insufficient recertification units must retake the certification exam.

Independent certification is also offered through other training organizations, but it typically certifies that the applicant has completed the training, and may not command the same respect as ASQ certification.

There are multiple levels of Six Sigma programs that offer process improvement training. Because online courses are typically self-paced, these programs are ideal for working professionals who need to schedule their studies around full-time jobs.

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