Taking Lean Six Sigma training and getting certified will cost you time and money. Is it worth it? Will you earn more money with the additional credential of a Lean Six Sigma belt? Let’s check it out.

What is the impact on my compensation if I am Lean Six Sigma trained and certified?

While some people will want to get Lean Six Sigma (LSS) trained and certified for personal and professional development, many others hope their efforts will be reflected in increased compensation and monetary reward. Of course, any financial reward will be a function of the level of training and certification you get. Let’s explore the financial benefits of each level of LSS certification.

White Belt

White Belt (WB) is the introductory level of LSS certification. A WB certification can give you a basic working knowledge of LSS in a short period of time. The typical WB certification course may involve just a few hours of online training watching videos and reading specific materials, then passing an exam.

In many companies who have deployed LSS, the WB training and certification is part of an onboarding process. Their role is to work on local problem-solving teams that support LSS projects with a basic, yet solid understanding of LSS. WB is not considered a professional level of LSS so you shouldn’t expect any increased compensation, especially if it is part of a required onboarding process.

Yellow Belt

The next level of LSS achievement is Yellow Belt (YB).. As a certified YB, you will acquire some basic knowledge and skills in the foundational elements of LSS concepts and methodology. You will have the ability to lead limited improvement projects and/or serve as a team member on more complex improvement projects led by a certified Green Belt (GB) or Black Belt (BB). Your participation as a YB is only part-time and is not a specific job title.

To be certified, you will need to receive some training. There is a wide variety of training options where you can accomplish this, including online instructor-led, online self-paced, videos, educational institutions, consultants, and within your own company. The length of the training can range from a few hours up to 28 hours, with 16 hours being quite common. An online course could be spread over weeks, while classroom training might be done in two days.

Again, the YB is not considered a professional LSS certification. While there might not be any significant increase in compensation for becoming a YB, it is a great way to see if you would like to pursue further LSS certification. By showing your interest in expanding your professional skills, you will be viewed by your employer in a better light than someone who isn’t supportive of your organization’s LSS deployment. This may open up promotional opportunities not available for those without the YB certification.

Green Belt

After Yellow Belt, you can progress to Green Belt (GB).  One of the criteria for a successful deployment of your LSS program is the use of engaged, qualified, and competent LSS resources. One key resource needed to drive a successful implementation of LSS in your organization will be your GBs.

The GB is a part-time position dedicated to the successful LSS deployment of continuous improvement. It is not a specific job title. While there might not be any significant increase in compensation for becoming a GB, it is a great way to see if you would like to pursue further LSS certification to become a Black Belt. Given a choice, with all things being equal, a hiring manager will often select a GB for promotion over someone without the certification.

Black Belt

Finally, you have reached the professional level of LSS certification. Black Belt (BB) may be a part-time job title but is typically full time and thus a specific job title. While you won’t see job postings for WB, YB or GB, you will see a specific job posting for BB positions. Once becoming certified as a LSS BB, you will move from whatever job position you had to one titled Black Belt.

There is a wide range of salary levels for BB depending on the size of the company, geographic location, industry, your experience and sophistication of your organization’s LSS deployment. It will also depend on whether you are employed as an internal resource or working as a consultant.

Here is BB salary information on the website salary.com for the city of Chicago, IL:

Here is some salary information from the website glassdoor.com along with some actual job postings from the site.

Master Black Belt

The Master Black Belt (MBB) is the highest professional level of LSS certification. It is a specific job title and postings for these jobs can be seen on all major job posting sites. It is a full-time job and most often a career landing point although many MBBs, because of their unique and valuable skills and knowledge of organizational processes, will be promoted to senior management levels. Here is some information about compensation levels in Chicago for MBBs from the website salary.com.

Here is additional information from the website comparably.com.

It is obvious that the higher certification you achieve, the more valuable to your organization you become and the higher compensation you will be paid.


Will my company pay me more money if I get certified as a Lean Six Sigma White Belt, Yellow Belt or Green Belt?

Probably not. Those three belt levels are not considered a professional LSS certification and are part-time activities associated with your normal job. But these certifications enhance your value to your employer, and you might be picked for more advanced professional LSS certification or be the person of choice for a promotion.

If I am already a Master Black Belt, what future job opportunities exist for me?

While many Master Black Belts (MBBs) decide that being an MBB is where they want to spend their career, others strive for more advancement. Because of the unique and valuable skills which an MBB possesses, they are often first in line for promotion to senior management levels in both staff and line positions. From there, there is no limit to what they can achieve both professionally as well as monetarily.

What is the outlook for employment as Lean Six Sigma Black and Master Black Belts?

The future looks good for ongoing employment as a LSS Black or Master Black Belt. The recent impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic with the resulting reduction of staffing levels in many industries make the improvement skills of a BB or MBB even more important. Reducing waste, driving down costs, improving throughput and doing more with less has made the unique skills of the BB and MBB even more valuable in today’s job market. Bottom line is that there will always be a need for skilled professionals who can help organizations work more effectively and efficiently.

Bottom Line

All levels of LSS certification are of value both to you and your organization. But like most industries, the apprentice, junior associate or Padawan (Jedi apprentice) have not yet acquired the skills or experience to command the highest pay. As a WB, YB and GB, you are important to your organization but have not yet reached the professional full-time level to receive the higher levels of compensation.

If you continue your education and improve your skills, you can be certified at the BB and MBB levels where you will be considered a full time professional and therefore get paid accordingly.

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