Can I Learn Six Sigma On My Own and Get Certified?

I found a question online that asked, “Can I learn six sigma on my own and get certified on my own?”


Yes, of course you can!  But be careful which path you choose.  First, a few words about how to do it on your own, then a warning about errors to avoid.

As an example, our company delivers Six Sigma training and coaching in three different ways:  Organizations usually choose either on-site live classroom training, or the same training delivered in a web meeting format.  Both are excellent approaches.  Individuals usually choose a course based on video-on-demand.  That’s a lot less expensive and is a good alternative for a self-motivated person.  We supply textbooks, videos, software, project coaching, and certification.  Follow the Take a Self Study Course at this link for more information.

Now about that warning…..

People who do our self-study program do succeed if they persevere.  In contrast, a few years ago, we delivered instructor led classroom training to a large company.  We had about 15 students in the room, half of whom had already completed a very well known university Six Sigma video-on-demand program.  Both of the Master Black Belts leading the class and the corporate sponsor of the program all agreed that we could detect no difference in apparent understanding of the students who had completed the university course vs. those who had not.  That was shocking.  

How could such a thing happen?

When Six Sigma was young, and undergoing explosive growth, high demand and limited supply drew many unqualified suppliers to the marketplace.  Six Sigma was a hot item, and suppliers would take whatever they had to sell, give it some window dressing, and market it as Six Sigma.  The result was many courses that had more fluff than substance.  Now that is certainly not intended to paint all suppliers with the same brush.  There are some excellent courses out there.  The trick is distinguishing them from the poor ones.

Things to check when choosing a self-study course:

  • Does the course content reasonably conform with the Body of Knowledge in The Six Sigma Standard?  That Body of Knowledge was arrived at by carefully observing which tools helped people complete projects.
  • The strength of Six Sigma is not so much in the individual tools as in the way they are used in concert.  Check to see that the course makes clear how the tools fit within the DMAIC framework.  If the course just hands you a sack of tools and leaves it to you to figure out how they fit, move on to another choice.
  • One quick check on the technical competence of the author is to check the module on Control Charts.  If they teach that Control Charts require normally distributed data, or that the Moving Range chart must be in control before you can interpret the Individuals chart, or if it teaches Xbar and R charts without mentioning rational subgroups, it is a technically deficient course of study.  If there is no module on Control Charts, that’s another major issue.
  • Check to see if the provider offers textbooks that support the videos, support software, coaching to help you complete your project, and certification when you succeed.


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