Six Sigma or PMP - Which is better?

If you’re currently looking to add a professional certification to your resume, you may be considering two certifications: Six Sigma or Project Management Professional (PMP). It’s not a surprise that you’re considering one of these certifications, Six Sigma and Project Management are two of the most highly used skills in 2022.

Before discussing each method, we need to break down the difference between project management and the PMP.   The Project Management Professional (PMP)™ is a certification issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI).  PMI is widely regarded as the leader in project management development since they dedicate all their energy to this one subject.  They have also developed the Project Management Body of Knowledge that most organizations refer to for best practices in project management.

With that said, PMI is not the only organization that issues a project management certification.  No single certification body exists for business skills like Project Management, Six Sigma, Scrum, TQM, etc.  This is important to understand because we’re going to discuss project management in general, not just the PMP certification.

Professional man in suit

What's the difference between Six Sigma and PMP?

Let’s briefly break down the difference between these two popular business skills:

Six Sigma Certification

Six Sigma is a process improvement method.  It uses mathematical models to determine how a process can be improved.  Getting a Six Sigma Certification shows that you understand the methods used to implement a Six Sigma improvement project.

Six Sigma certification isn’t a single certification, it is broken down by project function.  These different functions are typically designated as “belt levels.” The lowest belt level is a Six Sigma White Belt, and most professionals start here.  The other belt levels include Yellow, Green, Black, and Master Black Belt.  You do not need to get a certification at every belt level.  It is common in Six Sigma to only be certified at the project level in which you intend to work.

Six Sigma uses many popular business tools, so having your certification demonstrates that you have a diverse set of skills.  Here are a few examples:

  • Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) is a statistical technique for analyzing experimental data. It subdivides the total variation of a data set into meaningful component parts associated with specific sources of variation to test a hypothesis on the model’s parameters or to estimate variance components.
  • Hypothesis Testing is used in Six Sigma to screen for potential causes of a problem. Two Population Means, Matched or Paired Samples, and Two Population Proportions.
  • Normal distribution is a bell-shaped curve, and most of the data falls in the center. Exponential distribution is used for reliability engineering, where the failure rate is constant.

You can get your Six Sigma certification from many different organizations.  The important thing to consider when making your choice is the respectability of the certification within the workforce.

PMP Certification

As mentioned earlier, the PMP certification is the Project Management certification issued exclusively by PMI.  They have developed this certification and are the only organization that issues it.  You will find many organizations that offer training for PMP, but PMI always issues the certification itself.

Project Management is using tools and techniques to properly manage business processes and people to complete a project.  A project is anything that delivers value to people or an organization.

Project Management uses tools similar to Six Sigma.  Here are some examples of skills you’ll develop with the PMP certification:

  • Project Scope – You’ll learn how to properly manage a projects timeline and keep track of tasks.
  • Budgetary Needs – All projects have strict budgets that must be adhered to. A certified project manager knows how to manage the budget and develop a plan for budget overages.
  • Team Leadership is one of the most important tasks of Project Management.  You’ll learn the skills required to manage a team and lead them to project success.

As mentioned previously, there are other options for project management beyond the PMP.  You can also consider certifications from Comptia, EC-Council, or IAPM.

Which is better, Six Sigma or PMP?

As we’ve discussed, both certifications are highly valued within the business community.  The one you select really depends on the types of roles you’re interested in at work.  Here is MSI’s recommendation for when you should select a specific certification:

Get your PMP certification if:

  • Any job positions within the organization mention project management.
  • Your company has a lot of internal departments.
  • Your company has a lot of external vendors.
  • Your company deals in B2B and has a large number of companies as clients.


Get your Six Sigma certification if:

  • Your company is a federal contractor or has any federal/state contracts.
  • Your company is in, or works with, any of these sectors: Manufacturing, Logistics, Healthcare.
  • Your company has more than 5000+ employees
  • Your company deals with international vendors or organizations, or relies on an international supply chain.


Get both certifications if:

  • You’re looking for a leadership position (Director or above) for a large organization, like a Fortune 500 company.
  • Know the organization had a large distribution network.
  • The organization has 10,000+ employees.