Can I get a six sigma certification if I’m unemployed?

We recently had a customer ask us if he could get Six Sigma certified, even though he was unemployed.  He then said he was told by several people that “you need to be working on a project” to be certified.  These types of myths are common in the world of “continuous Improvement” so we thought we’d take some time to help dispel them.

Yes, you can get Six Sigma certified if you are unemployed.  There are many different organizations you can get your Six Sigma certification through because there is no centralized governing body for the Six Sigma industry (That’s another article all on its own).  Some of these organizations will require work experience, some will not.  Some will require a certain number of projects to be completed, and some will not.  That’s why doing your research will be important when selecting which certification company to go through.

A professional development certification is something you can obtain on your own, or through a company you’re working for.  There is no “wrong” way to do it.  In fact, getting your certification independent of the company you work for has several benefits:

  • Self-initiative – By getting your certification on your own, it shows perspective employers that you are self-motivated and understand the value of personal improvement.  Getting your certification outside of work means that you completed a training program on your own time, with your own money, to add to your skillset.
  • Continuous Improvement – Continually improving your skills is more important today than ever.  Employers look for people who understand how important it is to keep the cycle of learning active.  The Six Sigma methodology can be complex, especially at the Black Belt level.  These certifications are a great way to show employers you’re a thought-leader and innovator.

Now let’s look at the other aspect to getting certified – Do you need a project?  The answer to this question is a little more complicated because some certification bodies require it and others do not.  The Management and Strategy Institute has a policy that we do not require a project for certification.  In our view, the path to learning follows this trajectory:  Training > Certification > Project Simulation > Real-world Application.

You can’t work on a project until you’ve learned the fundamentals.  Therefore, it makes sense to do your training and take your certification exam based on your knowledge of those fundamentals.  Once you’re certified, you can then start applying your knowledge in a project simulator, or real life application.  Some certification companies have a different view on this, which is why require projects be completed before certification.  There is no “right” answer to this, it just depends on the certification body you pick.

Keep in mind that even though you can get your certification without project experience, you may still find that employers want someone with both.  This is why the Management and Strategy Institute offers Six Sigma certification and Six Sigma project simulators.