After a difficult year of serious cutbacks at many businesses due to the global economic crisis, average salaries for Six Sigma professionals around the world, including those in Europe, held steady, for the most part, according to the results of iSixSigma’s 7th annual Global Salary Survey.

While Six Sigma salaries in Europe lagged behind those in the United States, Canada and the worldwide average for nearly every role surveyed, there were no statistically significant increases or decreases in European compensation for 2009. Considering the financial turmoil of that year, maintaining the status quo could be considered a small victory.

The salary survey report, conducted by Michael Marx, a Six Sigma Black Belt and former research manager for iSixSigma, is based on the responses of 2,412 business improvement professionals worldwide. For analysis, the information was classified by region: United States, Europe, Asia and Pacific Nations, Latin America, and Canada, along with worldwide data. In this classification system, the “Europe” category includes the United Kingdom.

The Six Sigma role with highest average total compensation in the Europe category is Deployment Leader (DL), which took home an average of $117,000 in salary, plus $24,100 in bonuses. In comparison, DLs in the Unites States topped the list with $126,500 in salary and $30,200 in bonuses, while worldwide averages for DLs is $118,500 in salary and $27,200 in bonuses.

The one area where European Six Sigma practitioners outshine their American counterparts in terms of personal income is in the Master Black Belt (MBB) category. MBBs in Europe received an average bonus of $24,000, while those in the United States earned $22,000. However, the survey notes that this difference is not statistically significant, while the average MBB salary in the United States ($122,500) is statistically higher than in Europe ($112,400). This means that MBBs in Europe earn a higher percentage of their total compensation through a bonus than do their equivalents in the United States. It is also worth noting that the average salary for MBBs in the United Kingdom, at $118,851 annually, is a bit higher than the average in Europe.

Compensation rates for Quality Executives (QE) in Europe also ranked high, with $114,300 in base salary and $23,700 in bonuses. But the European figures were still well below the worldwide averages of $124,700 in salary and $30,200 in bonuses. QEs in the United States, meanwhile, earned $136,600 in average salary, plus $33,800 in bonuses, giving them a take-home total of more than $170,000 a year.

Black Belts (BB) in Europe, the survey found, earned an average $75,000 in annual salary. BBs in the United Kingdom, who made up half of the total respondents in the region of Europe, received about $9,000 more on average than their counterparts in the rest of the region. Even counting the average bonus of $8,700 each year, European BBs still don’t earn as much as American BBs make in annual salary alone ($90,600). Once bonuses are included, BBs in the United States take home $104,200 annually, on average.

Regarding bonuses, in general, the study found that, not only did the dollar figure for the average annual BB bonus worldwide ($11,100) stay statistically the same as the previous year, but also the number of BBs who said they had received a bonus fell just 5 percent. Those results, coupled with similar results for the other roles, suggest that, to some extent, Six Sigma practitioners are immune to bonus reductions that may be more widespread in other areas of a business.

Detailed information about the salary survey results is available to iSixSigma Magazine subscribers in a supplement in the digital edition of the magazine.

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