How hard is it to get your Six Sigma certification?

taking exam

Getting your Six Sigma certification is one of the most important and satisfying certifications you can gain as a business professional.  It gives you the skills to participate in or lead a process improvement project within your company.  There are no specific requirements for getting your Six Sigma certification, although having some project experience can be helpful at the high belt levels.

A quick search on LinkedIn shows over a hundred thousand people currently list a Six Sigma certification on their resume, making it one of the most popular certifications on the platform.  It’s easy to understand why.  Companies need people who know how to keep costs low and understand process improvement.  Eliminating waste and inefficiencies is the main goal of Lean Six Sigma, so it’s only natural that companies look to hire professionals with these skills.

What Six Sigma Belt do you need?

The difficulty level depends significantly on what level of Six Sigma certification you’re trying to gain.  For example, the Six Sigma White Belt is an entry-level certification and very easy to obtain.  You can complete the training and certification exam in less than 30 minutes, even if you have no prior training.  The Six Sigma Black Belt however, can be quite challenging.  To successfully pass the Six Sigma Black belt certification exam, you must study all aspects of the DMAIC method and the tools used.  You can learn more about the Six Sigma Belts Levels on MSI’s website here, and select the one that best fits your needs and budget.

Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma?

Once you’ve decided on your Belt level, you’ll also want to select between the regular certification or the Lean Six Sigma version.  Lean and Six Sigma are two different process improvement methods, but they are almost always used in conjunction since they complement each other well.  The standard Six Sigma certification is good for those looking for a general business certification.  If you work in Manufacturing, Transportation, Healthcare, or the Government, you’ll want to get your Lean Six Sigma certification.  These industries rely heavily on Lean operations.

How hard is Six Sigma training?

Now that you’ve decided on the belt you need, and whether you’ll be taking the Lean version, it’s time to focus on your training.  The lower Belt levels for your training are relatively straightforward.  You’ll learn about the history of Six Sigma, the Belts, and some fundamental concepts of Six Sigma.  You’ll learn about Defects per Million and how a properly formatted Six Sigma process will only produce 3.4 errors per million opportunities.  You’ll also cover the basic stages of the DMAIC process.

Training becomes considerably more difficult at the Green Belt and Black Belt levels.  This is because you will start getting into statistical analysis at this level.  Statistics is an integral part of understanding how to improve a process.  It allows you to analyze a process and make decisions based on calculations.

For example, Green Belts will learn the basic function of y=f(x) and how to Identify where variances are occurring in a function.  Black Belts learn about Critical to Quality characteristics and Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ).  These processes aren’t hard to learn per se, but they do require more study time to master.  That’s why taking a free Six Sigma practice test is helpful.  It can give you an understanding of your weak knowledge areas.

How hard is the Six Sigma exam?

You’ve studied for months and are finally ready to take the certification exam.  At this point you’re probably wondering, “How hard will it be to pass my Six Sigma Certification exam?”  This really depends on how well you’ve prepared during your training.  Start by taking a free Six Sigma practice test to determine any gaps in your knowledge.  You’re ready for the real thing if you pass the practice test.

Be sure to follow best practices for taking an exam.  They include:

  • Get a good night’s sleep prior to the exam.
  • Eliminate negative thoughts.
  • Avoid cramming for the exam just 1 or 2 days prior.
  • Read the question carefully several times before answering.
  • Read all the options.
  • Prioritize your time.


With careful study and by following these simple rules, you’ll pass your Six Sigma certification exam with flying colors and add this highly valuable skill to your resume.

Rei Takako

Rei Takako

BS, Business Management
Chicago, IL