iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals has two unique perspectives. First, the survey provides a global view. Second, unlike other quality salary surveys, this one is focused as specifically as possible on Six Sigma professionals.
By Matthew LeVeque, iSixSigma Senior Contributing Writer
During the past 10 years Six Sigma has become one of the most widely practiced process improvement methodologies in both service and manufacturing industries. In an effort to gauge how this is affecting salaries of quality professionals, iSixSigma has analyzed information in its own Job Shop database to produce a Six Sigma-specific salary survey.
iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals, the first of what will become an annual report, has two unique perspectives. First, with respondents from 68 countries on six continents, the survey provides a global view. Second, unlike other salary surveys of quality professionals, this one is focused as specifically as possible on Six Sigma professionals – those whose salary is tied into performing Six Sigma functions on a daily basis.
The salary survey provides a first look at the average annual salaries worldwide, as well as breakouts by five regions of the globe. Each of four Six Sigma job categories are explored – Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts (MBB), Champions (CH) and Deployment Leaders (DL):
In addition, readers can look at survey details which include average salaries for each of the four job categories by level of education, years of experience and by industry in each of the five regions, plus a global total. Click on the appropriate link to see survey details.
Worldwide: Assumptions Are Supported
Details of the worldwide survey report support what most readers would consider obvious assumptions.
In terms of average salaries, Master Black Belts in general make more than Black Belts and less than Champions. While Champions are not paid significantly more, the difference confirms the assumption. Also, as expected, Deployment Leaders are at the top earning level. When reporting salaries by level of education, the survey shows that more education generally means a higher salary. Salary increases from one step on the education ladder to the next are sizable – most are double-digit percentage increases. Average salaries by years of experience also follow the expected pattern of higher pay for greater experience. Salary improvements also are usually double-digit percentage increases up the experience steps. (In both education and experience salaries, an irregular and unexplained bump exists in the alignment of Champion salaries. The bump also appears in many of the regional reports. Future salary surveys will indicate whether this is an anomaly in this survey or a factor of importance.)
Not surprisingly, these same more-is-better patterns are generally repeated in many – but not all – of the regional breakouts for average salaries, level of education and years of experience.
The average salaries by industry show that for Black Belts the top pay is in business/consulting services, chemicals, construction, insurance and pharmaceutical/biotechnology. For Master Black Belts the top-paying fields are advertising/marketing, aerospace/defense, diversified and insurance. For Champions the highest average salaries are in automotive, business/consulting services and chemicals. Deployment Leaders are best paid in business/consulting services, construction and financial services.
One interesting conclusion that can be made from this salary survey is that there are still a large number of industries worldwide that have yet to employ a full spectrum of Six Sigma professionals. Of the 32 industry categories originally in the survey only 25 percent have respondents from each role. (Industry categories were grouped into 26 somewhat broader categories in this report for statistical purposes.) Black Belts and/or Master Black Belts are prevalent in nearly every industry. But those industries without respondents in one of those two core job categories – construction, environment, hospitality/travel, machinery/heavy equipment, plastics/rubber and telecommunications – may have unmet needs for Six Sigma professionals.
United States/Canada: Generally Higher Salaries
The number of respondents from the United States/Canada region – 63.8 percent of the total – was by far the largest in iSixSigma’s 2004 Salary Survey for Six Sigma Professionals. Since Six Sigma has its roots in the United States, this is not unexpected. Average salaries for Six Sigma professionals are generally higher in the U.S./Canada region than other regions of the world. That is true without qualification for Black Belts and Master Black Belts. For Champions, the top region was the Pacific Nations region.
Salaries by level of education: Increases in average salaries for each step within job categories are generally greater than in other regions. Champion salaries provide an interesting exception at the graduate degree level. U.S./Canada, Latin America and Europe are the only regions which had a significant number of respondents whose formal education ended with a high school diploma. Thus, the report includes data for that level of education. (In regions with only a few high school respondents their data is merged with the next higher level of education.)
Salaries by years of experience: As in education, experience is well-rewarded in this region – better than in the others. Again, the Champion category provides an interesting exception, this time in the 10 to 15 years level.
Salaries by industry: Top industry salaries for Black Belts are in advertising/marketing, agriculture, business/consulting services, chemicals and telecommunications. For Master Black Belts the top-paying industries are computer hardware/software/services, energy/utilities, food/beverages and insurance. For Champions the highest average salaries are in business/consulting services and computer hardware/software/services. Deployment Leaders are best paid in business/consulting services, computer hardware/software/services, diversified and pharmaceutical/biotechnology.
One surprising data point is the comparatively low average salaries in all job categories for Six Sigma professionals in manufacturing. Survey respondents in that industry earn less on an average than any of the other 25 industry categories.
Latin America: Smallest Number of Survey Respondents
Latin America is the region with the smallest number of respondents to this survey. And, in fact, there was no respondent data from Champions and Deployment Leaders. Mexico, a significant world leader in Six Sigma practice, has the largest number of survey respondents from this region.
Salaries by level of education: While increases in average salaries for each step within job categories holds true in this region, the increases are small in dollars as well as percentage. As noted, Latin America, along with the U.S./Canada and Europe regions, has a sufficient number of respondents to allow a breakdown for the high school educational level. (In regions with only a few high school respondents, their data is merged with the next higher level of education.)
Salaries by years of experience: Unlike every other region in this survey, with the exception of the Pacific Nations region, additional experience does not seem to translate into a higher salary. Salaries within the Black Belts and Master Black Belt categories show no relationship to experience. The Pacific Nations region has the second smallest number of respondents and shows a similar static relationship between experience and salaries. This leads to the concern that there may not be sufficient data to track an experience trend.
Salaries by industry: Top industry salaries for Black Belts are in advertising/marketing, agriculture and food/beverages. For Master Black Belts the highest average salaries are in advertising/marketing, automotive, computer hardware/software/services, and food/beverages.
Europe: Experience Really Counts
The second largest number of survey respondents is from Europe. In this region, more than half are from the United Kingdom, slightly more than 12 percent from Germany and France combined, and the balance from other countries. The average salaries of European Six Sigma professionals are both below and above global averages, depending on the position. For example, the average earnings for European Black Belts are $8,030 less than the global average; yet, Champions in Europe earn $13,683 more than the global average.
Salaries by level of education: Average salaries for most job categories start on a par with global averages, but end up below average at higher levels of education. Except for Black Belts, earning a doctorate degree generally yields the largest increase in salary in this region. As noted, Europe along with the U.S./Canada and Latin America regions has a sufficient number of respondents to allow a breakdown for the high school educational level. (In regions with only a few high school respondents, their data is merged with the next higher level of education.)
Salaries by years of experience: The survey suggests Europe puts a premium on experience. The largest average salaries do not occur until a Six Sigma professional has achieved 3 to 5 years as a Deployment Leader, or 5 to 10 years as a Master Black Belt. Champions see the most sizable increase when they have 15-plus years of experience. The salary range for Black Belts is relatively small compared to global figures.
Salaries by industry: Top industry salaries for Black Belts are in agriculture, environment, healthcare, insurance and plastics/rubber. For Master Black Belts the top-paying industries are advertising/marketing, apparel, chemicals and diversified. For Champions the highest average salaries are in aerospace/defense and chemicals. Deployment Leaders are best paid in business/consulting services, construction, financial services and food/beverages.
Continental Asia/Africa: Lowest Average Salaries
Average salaries in Continental Asia/Africa for all four positions tracked by the survey are the lowest of any region. Also, role responsibilities of different job categories are not clearly reflected in average salaries in this region. In many instances, similar levels of salary are earned by Six Sigma professionals no matter what role they play in implementing the methodology – Black Belt, Master Black Belt, Champion or Deployment Leader. This region also is dominated by a single country. More than 68 percent of the respondents from this region live in India. This undoubtedly is an indication of the growing strength of Six Sigma in India and the nation’s leadership in cultivating the methodology.
Salaries by industry: The automotive industry is the only business group represented by survey respondents from all four job categories; however, half of the 26 industry categories have Black Belt respondents. Top industry salaries for Black Belts are in aerospace/defense, agriculture, business/consulting services and chemicals. For Master Black Belts the top-paying industries are advertising/marketing, business/consulting services and manufacturing. For Champions the highest average salaries are in chemicals. Deployment Leaders are best paid in business/consulting services, chemicals and computer hardware/software/services.
Near Mid-Point on List of Averages
This region has the second smallest number of survey respondents, yet its average salaries are near the mid-point on the list of region averages. The Pacific Nations region includes Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the other island nations in the Pacific Ocean. As a side note, this region features the highest average salaries for Champions of any region, thanks to a $200,000-per-year Champion being one of only two respondents in that job category.
Salaries by level of education: As in the Continental Asia/Africa region, level of education does not seem to have a significant effect on average salaries in this region.
Salaries by years of experience: Experience also seems to have little effect on average salaries, until a person reaches the 15-year-plus level.
Salaries by industry: Only seven of the 26 industry categories were represented by respondents from this region. Again, this is an indication that many companies have yet to cash in on Six Sigma opportunities. Industry salaries for each of the four job categories are fairly well homogenized. Only the average for Deployment Leaders in the computer hardware/software/services industry is head and shoulders above other industries.
All data is property of iSixSigma and may not be redistributed or published in any form unless prior written consent is provided by iSixSigma.