Selecting a Six Sigma Training Program

I am often asked how one should go about selecting a Six Sigma training provider and training program.  Because there is no universal standard for Six Sigma certification, you should ask the following questions about any certification program that you are considering whether it is delivered online, in a classroom setting, or at the company where you are employed.
First, what curriculum is being used?  When I developed the Six Sigma courses for Key Performance I followed the recommendations of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), the International Society of Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP) and the Fisher College of Business Center for Operational Excellence at Ohio State University. Our courses were also extensively benchmarked against a number of widely recognized and respected training organizations such as Villanova University, the Six Sigma Academy, and North Carolina State University.
Second, who is doing the instruction and what is their level of experience?  Look for broad and deep experience in business and industry as well as formal education and training in the field.  You should expect your instructor to be a Master Black Belt with many years of experience in both business and in training.  Your instructor must have strong presentation and teaching skills to complement his or her technical skills.  Please refer to the instructor biographies at for the qualifications and experience of our Six Sigma instructional staff.
Third, how rigorous are the programs as far as requiring you to demonstrate that you understand each lesson in the program?  Six Sigma is implemented by planning and executing projects. You need to know how to use the tools in a real world environment, not just pass a test on them.  In our programs, every lesson has a learning objective, and your grasp of that learning objective is assessed through some sort of exercise or application to a real-world problem.
Regarding online programs – our Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt online programs deliver the exact same content and use the exact same curriculum and instructors as our classroom programs. They are also designed to create, to the extent possible, the same type of interaction between participants as you would experience in the classroom.  You should not expect a watered down version if you choose an online course.
Regarding studying on your own and then taking the American Society for Quality examination for a Belt certification – allow me to make an analogy. You can study at home and pass a written test on everything that you need to know to fly an airplane. This does NOT mean that you are competent to go out and fly commercially for a living.
I am a private pilot with an instrument rating.  When I decided to learn to fly I sought out a highly experienced, certified flight instructor who used the FAA recommended curriculum to teach me how to fly.  I can tell you from personal experience that flying an airplane is far different from reading about how to fly an airplane!
In the same manner, passing the ASQ test does not mean that you are competent to practice Six Sigma professionally. You will benefit greatly from the mentoring and instruction of a professional in the field who will encourage your progress and correct your mistakes, which will be many.   Potential employers will be MUCH more interested in what you have accomplished in the real world by planning and executing improvement projects than they will be interested in what score you achieved on a test.
I wish you well in your pursuit of knowledge in the field of Six Sigma.  Your comments or questions about this article are welcome, as are suggestions for future articles.  Feel free to contact me by email at
About the author:  Mr. Roger C. Ellis is an industrial engineer by training and profession.  He is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 45 years of business experience in a wide range of fields.  Mr. Ellis develops and instructs Six Sigma professional certification courses for Key Performance LLC.   For a more detailed biography, please refer to