There are three common ways you can get trained and certified in Lean Six Sigma (LSS). Let’s discuss what they are and some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Training and Certification by your Employer

The most common method of being trained and certified in LSS is through your employer. This assumes they are deploying a comprehensive LSS program in your organization. Of course, the first challenge is to be selected to participate in the training. In many cases, participants are selected by senior leadership rather than relying on volunteers. To be selected, you must be perceived as having interest, demonstrated capabilities, and the potential of working on a project of value to the organization. This would apply to the Green Belt (GB) and Black Belt (BB) levels. There are lesser requirements for inclusion as White Belt and Yellow Belt participants.

The advantages of being trained and certified by your employer are there is no cost to you, you will be in a class of peers and the training materials should have been customized so you should be familiar with terms and concepts. Additionally, your training should be scheduled during your normal work hours rather than evenings or weekends. You will also have a network of fellow employees who have already been trained and certified who can serve as a source of information and assistance should you need it.

Initial training and certification are usually provided by external consultants who have been retained to help develop your organization’s LSS program and training content. Many programs include a “Train the Trainer” component where the external consultant transfers knowledge to internal resources who then takeover the training and certification. These internal organizational resources will be Black Belts or Master Black Belts who have previously been trained and certified by the external consultants. Your certification will be from your organization.

Work Directly with an External Consultant

Being trained and certified by your employer is best suited for an organization that wishes to train and certify a large number of employees. In the case where the organization only has a few people they wish to train and certify or you want to be trained and certified for personal and professional reasons, working directly with a consulting organization might be a better avenue for you. Keep in mind not all external consultants do both training and certification. Some organizations just provide training while others only do a third party certification if you have already been trained by someone else. It is important to confirm this before considering using an external consultant.

The consultant direct approach may consist of attending public training classes, doing the training and certification online or possibly a hybrid of both approaches. Since there is no centralized accreditation body who provides certification and recognition it is a matter of buyer beware. Here are some questions to help you decide if this approach will work for you:

  • What is the credibility and reputation of the consulting organization?
  • What are the credentials and competency of the trainers?
  • Is the training and certification consistent with best practices in the LSS industry? Most GB training is about 80 hours in length with BB being 160+ hours. If you are looking at time frames which are considerably less, then you may need to reconsider your choices.
  • How comprehensive is the training content?
  • Does the consultant also provide certification or only training? If they provide certification, do they require a project? Is it a project simulation or a real one based on what you do at work? Is there adequate coaching to help you through your project?
  • What is the class size? How diverse is the class makeup with respect to different industries?
  • Is the price competitive and of value?
  • When is the training scheduled? Is online training synchronous or asynchronous?

One of the advantages of this approach to training and certification is the flexibility and variety of how consultants provide their services. Other advantages are the diversity of organizations which might be in your class and the networking you might establish with people outside of your organization. This model is suited for organizations seeking one-off training or an individual wanting to acquire LSS credentials on their own.

Some of the disadvantages may be:

  • Cost, since you may have to pay for this yourself
  • Generic nature of training content
  • Lack of common interest with other participants
  • Less individual attention depending on the size of the class and whether you are in a classroom or online.
  • Scheduling may be inconvenient and require doing this outside of work hours
  • Variety of consultant capabilities and skills including teaching skills, technical skills, coaching skills and experience in LSS
  • Certification will likely be from the consulting firm which may or may not be good depending on the credibility and reputation of the consulting firm and your instructors

Educational Institutions

Over the past few years, many educational institutions have identified LSS training and certification as a profitable revenue source. The training and certification are usually based in the Continuing or Executive Education departments. The institutions range from well-known universities to local vocational or junior college institutions.

In most cases, the training and certification are provided by outsourced locally based consultants rather than faculty. Since there is no LSS standard for training and certification, there is a wide variety of capability and quality in the programs offered by educational institutions. The main advantages are the cost is usually less expensive and if you are attending classroom training, the proximity of the facility might be convenient.

The disadvantages are:

  • Uncertainty of instructor quality. Since most of the instructors are local consultants, educational institutions often pay less than the going rate for highly credentialed and nationally recognized consultants.
  • Training is usually scheduled on the weekends thereby not interfering with your work schedule. This could be perceived as a good thing or not.
  • Since your certification will come from the educational institution you must consider whether that institution is perceived as sufficiently prestigious for your certification to be accepted by a future hiring manager or even your own organization.

FAQs: Where to be Trained and Certified in LSS

What are the most common ways I can get LSS trained and certified?

You can get trained and certified by your employer, an external consultant or an educational institution.

If I get trained by a consultant or educational institution will they also certify me?

Not necessarily. Some organizations only provide training while others only provide certification.

Does where I get trained and certified impact the value of my training  and certification?

It may. Given the variation of reputation, credentials, and competency of where you receive your training and certification, it may have an impact on whether it is recognized as credible and valued.

In Conclusion

You have several options for how you can get trained and certified in Lean Six Sigma. The best and least expensive may be with your employer if you are fortunate enough to be selected to receive the training and certification as a part of an ongoing LSS deployment.

If you are seeking to be trained and certified for personal and professional reasons, then working directly with an external consultant or educational institution might be what you are looking for. But be careful! There is wide variation in the capability and competence of instructors so do your due diligence and use some of the hints above to carefully choose where you want to be trained and certified. If you are going to spend your time and money to complete a program, be sure it will be recognized and accepted as one of value.

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