What Students Should Know About Lean Six Sigma Certificates vs. Lean Six Sigma Green Belts

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Engineering manager poses in her workplace.

Developed by Motorola engineer Bill Smith and popularized by General Electric CEO Jack Welch in the 1990s, Six Sigma is a process improvement method that attempts to minimize product defects and maximize worker productivity. The name Six Sigma refers to a mathematical guideline that specifies a maximum number of acceptable product defects. “Sigma” is another word for standard deviation, and businesses that maintain their quality within six standard deviations of a normal distribution process can limit their total errors to 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Six Sigma is a rigorous process to keep businesses and service providers well-tuned and effective. “Lean” Six Sigma incorporates an aspect of Japanese business practice that reduces wasted resources and efficiency and improves workflow.

Lean Six Sigma is a practice that is widely applicable across industries. Experience with Lean Six Sigma is highly sought after by employers, and prospective managers have several ways of demonstrating experience with this practice available. Students pursuing a Master of Engineering Management can gain Lean Six Sigma credentials while they earn their graduate degree. However, there are different types of certification. Here we consider a Lean Six Sigma certificate vs. a Lean Six Sigma green belt.

Six Sigma Certificate vs. Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

Engineers who wish to demonstrate their mastery of the Six Sigma method commonly pursue either a Lean Six Sigma certificate or a Lean Six Sigma green belt.

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

Organizations such as the American Society of Quality (ASQ) and the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC) offer certifications in Lean Six Sigma. They certify different levels of expertise, beginning with a yellow belt and continuing with a green belt, black belt, and master black belt. Green belts can lead projects part time, assist with statistical analysis, and support project improvement. For ASQ, a minimum of three years in a Six Sigma role is necessary to take an examination based on its Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. IASSC is a third-party certification body, and there are no prerequisites to sit for its examination.

Certified Lean Six Sigma Graduate Certificate

A Certified Lean Six Sigma certificate covers the same skills as a green belt certification, yet it has the added benefit of learning through simulated projects that reinforce the curriculum. Credits earned pursuing certification will also count toward a master’s in engineering management degree. Ohio University’s Statistics for Engineering Management course helps prospective managers create experiments and analyze the results to increase the productivity of their organizations. Principles of Six Sigma covers how Six Sigma can be applied for process improvement, and Lean Thinking Methods introduces students to lean processes that can reduce waste in workflow systems.

Engineering Management Lean Six Sigma Benefits

Lean Six Sigma teaches students a variety of methods and techniques to improve their skills in improving processes. Benefits include the following.

Tool Utilization

Six Sigma offers statistical tools to drive progress. These include statistical process control (SPC), control charts, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), and process mapping. These techniques drive the focus and productivity of qualified Six Sigma certification recipients.


Six Sigma emphasizes the DMAIC approach to process improvement: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. Incorporating this method sets and executes efficient and well-defined goals. Further, Six Sigma teaches how to turn these goals into actionable, data-driven results.

Deeper Understanding

The core philosophy of Six Sigma measures business processes and their effect on inputs to outputs. Constant measurement and improvement guides Six Sigma engineering projects and can produce valuable results.

Value of Statistical Tools

Lean Six Sigma demonstrates to employees and managers the value of statistical tools. Featuring teams with common goals and an understanding of workflow analysis, the Six Sigma method allows for team members’ involvement in the process of measuring and improving outcomes.

Choosing a Certification Right for You

Engineering managers use their expertise to meet goals and lead their teams. A certification in Lean Six Sigma demonstrates to employers that you have mastered a technique that has been employed for decades by some of the largest and most successful businesses in modern history. Ohio University offers a Certified Lean Six Sigma certificate that can help you move forward with your career goals.

The program has the same admission requirements as the online Master of Engineering Management: a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or physical sciences from an accredited four-year program in the U.S.; a GPA of 3.0 or higher; and, if applicable, TOEFL or IELTS scores. Visit the website today and learn whether Ohio University is the right choice for you.


Recommended Readings

Engineering Management vs. Project Management

Four Critical Tools in a Quality Management System

Master of Engineering Management: Creating Leaders in Engineering



American Society for Quality, “Certified Six Sigma Green Belt”

American Society for Quality, What Is Six Sigma?

Business News Daily, “Six Sigma Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths”

International Association for Six Sigma Certification, About

International Association for Six Sigma Certification, General Questions

International Association for Six Sigma Certification, Green Belt Certification

Ohio University, Online Master of Engineering Management Graduate Certificates