Ready to get certified? Here’s what to look for.

The primary difference between certification and receiving a certificate is firsthand experience beyond training alone, usually evidenced by project completion. Certification is for the ranks of Green Belts and Black Belts, while certificates may be earned by White Belts, Yellow Belts, Green Belts, and Black Belts.

There are a variety of programs offered by Six Sigma training providers, all of which have different criteria for certification. However, there are some established standards that define what certification is as opposed to a certificate of completion. We break down the main differences between receiving a certification vs. a certificate below:

Six Sigma Certification

Certification is given to individuals, who have demonstrated their knowledge and skills through the completion of a live (real world) project, in addition to successfully completing the appropriate amount of training for their belt level.

Therefore, the Six Sigma certifications acknowledged by most organizations (i.e. future employers, current employers, etc.) will include both a required amount of training and successful completion of a live project. All programs that meet these general requirements for certificates and certifications should be considered legitimate Six Sigma providers. ISSSP believes that certifications are not valid from providers that only require an exam, since the "real-world experience" is removed from the process. The live project element shows organizations (i.e. future employers, current employers, etc.) that you have competency in the application of Six Sigma concepts associated with the specific belt level. Six Sigma certification requires that an individual demonstrate both practical and academic knowledge.

To remain valid, certifications should require demonstration of current work projects after a specified period (often three years).

Six Sigma Certificate

Certificates are awarded to those individuals who have successfully completed training at a specific belt level from a program that offers the same level of training that most organizations (i.e. future employers, current employers, etc.) would expect. Students with Green Belt or Black Belt training, who have not yet completed a live project, should receive a Six Sigma certificate. Once he/she completes a live project, the individual would be considered certified. Therefore, certificates are issued to students, who can demonstrate completion of a relevant training program and in some cases pass some sort of exam, but would not be considered certified.