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ASQ Certification – is it worth my while?

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  • #53101

    Tierradentro
    Participant

    I have been a Six Sigma Black Belt for several years now and I have completed many projects with lots of finincial savings for my company.
    I have been toying with the idea of becoming certified but having researched the ASQ CSSBB I am wondering about the value of this. From what I can gather anyone can apply to sit this exam as long as they can get someone from their company to supply an affidavid saying they are trained and have completed projects. I get the impression the ASQ don’t check any references. Also at $420 to sit the open book exam plus another $150 approx for exam prep guides it seems a lot of money for a qualification that will have to be renewed in a few years.
    Lastly I have read through other postings on the forum where people say that if you can’t pass this exam then you shouldn’t call yourself a BB but when I reviewed the BOK for the CSSBB I can see that it is full of theory and topics that are of little practical use to a BB. The projects that I have completed have saved several millions for my company and I use a range of tools from statistical tools to knowledge based tools to Lean tools and Change Mgmt tools but never have I seen the need to use a stem and leaf plot … some of the CSSBB BOK seems like if comes straight out of my old college lecture books (20 years ago) and it seems completely at odds with the idea of being a BB which is all about being practical right?
    Am I the only one who thinks maybe this ASQ CSSBB stuff is not worth the hassle ?

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    #187960

    Darth
    Participant

    It may be a useful entry ticket for those who can’t claim that they have done something. If you have DOCUMENTED proof of your accomplishments and project work then I would pass and just start saying that you have served in the role of BB and then quickly move the conversation to what you have done. If someone asks whether you are certified tell them the truth and quickly move the conversation to what you have done. If the company and hiring manager really know what is going on, they will be more interested in what you have accomplished than some POS certificate that any dufas can get.

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    #187964

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    Unfortunately, I have to take exception to the comments by my esteemed colleague, Darth. 
    For all it’s drawbacks (and there are quite a few), the ASQ cert is still the only widely accepted cert out there and too many orgs make this a non-negotiable hurdle.  I agree that if you know your stuff and can communicate it to someone who also has somewhat of a clue, you will quickly pass that gate.  However, you need to get to that person, and there needs to be such a person.  Too many companies do not actually have such a person, or they are shielded by an HR org that filters out those not cert’d.
    If you can get your org to pay for it, then go for it.  If not, then you need to assess your cost/benefits situation.  If you’re going to be looking for a new job, then will this be table stakes for entry?  If you’re doing it for your ego, I can send you a much prettier cert with a fancy title and signature for a 10% less.   Send me your e-mail and I’ll tell you where to send the cashiers check.
    BTW – if you don’t know your stuff, when you get to someone who does you will quickly be sniffed out and sent packing.  I’ve interviewed plenty of folks who had a cert (even from ASQ) who couldn’t spell DMAIC let alone actually complete a meaningful project.  They don’t pass the tech review part of the hiring process.

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    #187967

    Tierradentro
    Participant

    Thanks Guys,
    I hear what you are saying. If I read correctly what you are saying is that ASQ certification is really only useful as a door opener if I am going for an interview with an organisation that is probably not all that clued in to Lean Six Sigma. However assuming I can get in the door then I should move quickly along to discussing my actual project portfolio. That’s sort of what I was thinking too. Also since I am based in Europe there is probably a low enough proportion of BB’s that go the ASQ certification route in any event. I have asked a bunch of my contacts about it and very few of them (all BB’s) have bothered with the ASQ exam. Actually there are a few countries that have national certification bodies where a third party assessor reviews and audits the programme and projects before giving an award. While this route might lack the international certification appeal I think that within the particular countries that do this it might be a better certification option. I am planning to research this further. Apparently in Ireland the award is one that is associated with Process Engineering (like a Diloma or a Certificate in Process Engineering). If anyone has come accross other countries with their own National academic recognition I’d love to hear about them.
    Thanks again guys! 

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    #187968

    Kluttz
    Member

    I had a BB cert (and project experience) via the company I worked for.  When I decided to leave that role, I decided get ASQ certification as well.  For me, the cost of the certification was insignificant relative to the potential value.  Right or wrong, some companies and/or hiring managers just don’t know any better.  And contrary to what may be the opinion of some here (you shouldn’t work for stupid people/companies), I wanted to work for a company without a lot of process improvement maturity and the ASQ cert would help me get in the door.  But again, it only helps you get in the door.  It won’t help if you can’t back it up with knowledge & experience. 
    My opinion?  Get the ASQ cert.  The cost isn’t substantial ($350-ish bucks, as I recall) relative the the competitive advantage it might give you versus other similarly experienced BB’s without the cert. 

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    #187973

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    It’s not only useful in opening doors at clueless companies, it is often a requirement for companies with more of a clue (remember, they use a recruiting company or HR dpt that are clueless so they need some criteria to use to filter).  I tried to get my info to a hiring mgr once at a company that seemed to have a clue.  Because I didn’t have ASQ cert (still don’t, but I’ve been lucky) the HR folks wouldn’t pass along my resume.  A sales rep for a software company who I befriended and called on the hiring mgr dropped my resume on his desk and I was hired almost instantaneously. 
    Sometimes ya gotta jump through the right hoops, sometimes ya get lucky.

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    #188046

    Blacklabel
    Participant

    It has been worth it to me. When they ask if I am certified I say “yes I am” and then it is easy to move on to what I have actually done. Before I was certified, I had to spend a lot of time justifying why I wasn’t and that was less time that I had to talk about what projects I had done, classes I had facilitated, etc.
    If someone already calling themself a “Black Belt” it is assumed that you have a certain level of Six Sigma knowledge so should be no issue for you to pass the ASQ exam without even studying.
    To me, its like a driver’s license. Sure we all are capable of driving and have driving experience but you still go get your license and pay a little money to certify that you really can. Is the driver’s test easy and does it really show that you are any good at driving or cover all aspects of driving? No, but it shows you have at least the basics covered. To me that is the same for people who have the ASQ cert. I won’t know if you are really any good at Six Sigma but I will at least be 100% sure you have the basic foundation and the potential to BE good based on what documented experience you bring with you.
     
     
     
     
     

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    #188049

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    Not sure that I’d say you can take the exam without studying (except, maybe for Stan).  It does tend to be an academic type exam (when’s the last time anyone actually plotted a control chart by hand and needed to know the formulas for establishing CL’s?) so if you don’t like to commit specific formulas to permanent memory (I don’t), then you’ll want to bone up some prior to the exam.  Otherwise, if you know your stuff, shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

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    #188056

    Blacklabel
    Participant

    Being new here I dont want to insult anyone. But by reading the comments the past month or so when the topic comes up it almost seems to me that a lot people would prefer to just keep calling themself a Black Belt than to actually take the test and prove it. If there is a test out there that is recognizable by the majority of your fellow practicioners  then why not take it? (almost everyone who works in SS has at least HEARD of ASQ)
    The cost is minimal, the test is available often and in many locations so those arent issues. So is it (a) people think the test is beneath them and their wealth of experience so they just say the could pass it if they want to but choose not to be bothered with it or (b) people see the BOK and convince themselves all that “stuff” in there they dont recognize really has nothing to do with being a Black Belt or (c) something else?
    In my experience being cerified has changed my entire interview process. Used to always have some Master Black Belt guy of unknown capability himself asking me:
    “what is DMAIC?”
    “what are the 8 wastes?” 
    “what is Gage R&R?”
    “what is the difference between repeatability and reproducability”?
    “what is TOC?”
    Now when I reply that I am certified, I get meatier questions like what types of projects have I done, what where the results, how many GB/BB have I trained/mentored and how many of those have I mentored to their own certifications. The answers I can give to these types of questions makes me look better than when I wasnt certified and was only asked questions that if I got wrong made me look incompetent, but if I got right did nothing to distinguish me from anyone else. 
     
     
     

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    #188058

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    1) why should I shell out my hard-earned money for something I already know?
    2) anyone accepting a piece of paper without investigating the actual capabilities themselves deserves what they get.
    3) having interviewed plenty of folks who wave one of these certs around but can’t discerne how to identify an “opportunity” (to cite a recent thread – not picking on anyone, but you’d be surprised how few “certified” belts understand this, they look at every instance of a failure as an opportunity – sheesh) let alone actually achieve substantial improvements.
    4) I’ve looked at the career progression of some of these “ASQ certified belts” who I’ve come across over the years.  They spend a year to 18 months at any one job then they’re at another one.  Makes you wonder what they’ve actually accomplished.  Methinks their just competent at flashing a piece of paper in front of those who don’t know any better, then when the can’t deliver, have to move on, leaving a bad reputation behind about those who have this “certification.”
    5) Having started applying these methods since 1991, perhaps I’m a bit arrogant about my practical application/implementation vs. what I see as an academic exam.  I don’t give a rip about the specific formula needed to plot a control chart.  I have Minitab to do that for me.  I’d be much more impressed if the exam presented a real case study asking for when and how to apply a control chart, what to look for and how to interpret various patterns, etc.  But that is much more difficult to fit into a multiple choice format.
    Don’t get me wrong, I believe that some sort of confirmation of skill set and demonstrated capability is desperately needed in this field.  Too many charlatains are out there.  ASQ is the most widely recognized, but it is a very mediocre standard.
    I choose not to be judged to a mediocre standard and rather seek to get to those in orgs for whom I’m interested and demonstrate my skill set directly to them, not let a piece of paper do so.  Doesn’t always work (took me over a year to get linked up with the right person last time), but that’s my choice.  I now have had my skills evaluated by some of the true Titans of the industry and value their judgement over any exam.  And I’m confident that they will provide many more open doors than a piece of paper ever could.
    P.S. If having a cert changed the interview, then the folks conducting the interview were lightweights to begin with.

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    #188060

    Blacklabel
    Participant

    Thanks a lot for the insightful reply, it is good to think about it from other points of view. Yes, I was kind of surprised how my interviews changed once they found out I had certification. All the academic and knowledge type questions went away, I was kind of automatically getting credit for knowing that when maybe I didnt. It was helpful in just being able to move forward and talk about things I have actually done, which is what I wanted to talk about anyway, so in this case being certified has really helped me out so far.
    I am not one of those people who are JUST certified and dont know anything, I have done a significant number of events/projects with quite a lot of verified money and time savings. I have also facilitated courses up to the Green Belt level (dont have 5 weeks free to teach a Black Belt course so I am not ready for that yet). But on the other hand I dont mistake the fact that I am “certified” to mean that I know it all or even half of it all.  I still have lots to learn, so that is my primary focus moving forward. But so far being certified has been good as a supplement to the things I know how to do and the things I have done.
    Thanks again for the insight
     

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    #188062

    Mikel
    Member

    MBB,Give Blacklabel their due.There are signs of intelligent life here. Blacklabel, welcome to the
    forum, although I prefer Bluelabel (and grappa).I agree with you about an ASQ cert changing the interview process,
    must be lack of competence on the interviewers side. The
    questions should have always been open ended and in the form of
    – “tell me about your results”

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    #188065

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    Thought I was reasoned, rational, and detailed.

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    #188069

    Kluttz
    Member

    When I took the ASQ BB exam, it had been a few years since I had finished BB training or really cracked a stats book.  But I had been a dedicated BB for a while and considered myself technically competent so I really wasnt worried about passing…….. until I opened the test. 
    To your point, its easy to forget all the formulas and equations once you start doing projects and using SPC software that does the math for you.  But there’s value in refreshing those skillsets if only to reinforce the concepts and be better prepared to teach them through the course of your career.  And while I wouldn’t want to have to calculate my control limits, I think any solid BB should be able to answer a multiple choice question about where they should be when given a set of data points.  If they understand the concepts of range, variance and standard deviation, they should be able to ballpark the answer without having to do all the math. 
    I passed the test the first time, but that doesnt mean I wasn’t sweating the results for 2 weeks while I waited for my score.  Did it make me a better BB?  Heck no.  If I was a crappy BB before the test, Id still be a crappy one afterwards.  But I do know that I did receive more job callbacks after I had the certification than I did before I had it.  And that what it boils down to for me.  It gave me an opportunity to sell my experience and skillsets. 
    I get the distaste an experienced non-“certified” BB would have in their mouth if they felt they had to jump through some ASQ hoop, but for me it was worth it. 

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    #188112

    Blacklabel
    Participant

    Thanks for the welcome to the forum Stan, and thanks again to the MBBinWI for the reasonable response. I feel where you guys are at in your careers and what you bring to the table as far as SS and I see why you have decided what you have. Yeah I guess the MBBs that always get called in to interview me arent very solid then because I never got to the open ended questions that I wanted to answer until after they found out I was certified. (Or maybe they wanted to keep asking me those academic questions until I missed one and then use that as a disqualifier or as a way to confirm to themselves that they are better than me?)
    I work in a service environment so I am continually doing transactional projects or simple RIEs so I am not really getting the full SS experience yet. I am pretty much “the guy” for 5 geographic locations with thousands of people so I am just trying to get where I need to be. I really have to be up on the academic portions more than the real world project work because I keep getting side tracked into teaching Yellow Belt and Green Belt courses because I guess they found out I am a decent instructor.
    Hopefully I can be of some assistance in this forum from time to time and at the same time learn from all of you so that someday I can afford something better than Johnny Walker Black :-)
     

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    #188115

    Mikel
    Member

    Blue is a very nice step up.

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    #188117

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    A fine, upstanding (I’m guessing) fellow.  Once you get a little experience, you’ll be drinking Glenfiddich like the best of us (the ich is pronounced ick, like in Loch – they are Scottish, you know).

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