Six Sigma is a specific field of knowledge in the field of quality management. It is focused on quality measurements aiming to get as close as possible to perfection when it comes to quality. It is a very disciplined field of work, driven by data. The goal is to identify and fully eliminate defects, with the focus on the six standard deviations (Six Sigma) found between the mean and the nearest limit that has been specified. This can be applied in any type of process or industry, from services to products and from transactions to manufacturing.
A Six Sigma defect is anything that is deemed not to be within the range of specifications of the customer. Basically, to attain Six Sigma, there must not be more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities within the process.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies Six Sigma quality managers as industrial production managers. They enjoy an average salary of $97,140 per year at the bachelor’s degree level. The BLS has also projected that there will be a 4% decline in demand for these professionals for the period from 2014 to 2024, however, which translates to the loss of 6,300 jobs.
However, the classification of the BLS does not present a perfectly accurate picture. The reality is that consumers place increasingly big demands on the quality of the products and services that they need. This is while the field of quality assurance and industrial production may be declining, the field of Six Sigma is actually growing.
Payscale.com has released a report on interesting career paths for those with Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification. Those roles, and their associated salaries, include:
- Production Supervisors, who earn annual salaries of between $46,900 and $76,444.
- Business Analysts (Unspecified Type), who earn annual salaries of between $45,875 and $70,441.
- Data Analysts, who earn annual salaries of between $44,115 and $81,403.
- Business Analysts, IT, who earn annual salaries of between $47,888 and $84,058.
- Industrial Engineers, who earn annual salaries of between $50,008 and $84,866.
Geographical location has been found to affect how much someone can earn. That being said, it is important to understand that areas with comparatively high salaries also often have a higher cost of living.
The Payscale.com report also looked at average earnings in different cities across the country, which demonstrated that those working in:
- Dallas, Texas, earned an average annual salary of $60,489.
- New York, New York, earned an average annual salary of $79,947.
- Chicago, Illinois, earned an average annual salary of $62,653.
- Cincinnati, Ohio, earned an average annual salary of $64,425.
- Atlanta, Georgia, earned an average annual salary of $70,688.
- Raleigh, North Carolina, earned an average annual salary of $63,226.
- San Antonio, Texas, earned an average annual salary of $58,958.
They also provided salary data for various states, showing that those working in:
Texas, earned an average annual salary of $61,764.
Ohio, earned an average annual salary of $61,368.
California, earned an average annual salary of $70,460.
Florida, earned an average annual salary of $62,164.
Illinois, earned an average annual salary of $59,933.
North Carolina, earned an average annual salary of $63,884.
New York, earned an average annual salary of $67,456.
What is perhaps of greater importance than geographical location when it comes to the expected salary is the company that someone works for.
The Payscale.com report also looked at the most popular companies to work for, and their average annual salaries. This showed that those working for:
- Cisco Systems Inc., earned an average annual salary of $62,000.
- Deloitte Consulting LLP, earned an average annual salary of $75,000.
- The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., earned an average annual salary of $63,993.
- Harris Corporation, earned an average annual salary of $68,000.
- TJX Companies Inc., earned an average annual salary of $59,198.
- Merck & Co., Inc., earned an average annual salary of $73,640.
- McKesson Corp., earned an average annual salary of $73,500.
- The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BNY Mellon), earned an average annual salary of $66,825.
- The Lincoln Financial Group. earned an average annual salary of $59,050.
- Harley-Davidson Motor Company, earned an average annual salary of $85,150.
- Florida Power & Light (FPL) Company, earned an average annual salary of $61,741.
- Polyone Corporation. earned an average annual salary of $65,634.
- Tenneco Inc., earned an average annual salary of $59,344.
- Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, earned an average annual salary of $100,421.
- Geico, earned an average annual salary of $50,000.
- Kraft Heinz Company, earned an average annual salary of $60,000.
- Florida Power and Light Company, earned an average annual salary of $65,000.
- DTE Energy Co., earned an average annual salary of $78,324.
- Aluminum Company Of America (ALCOA), earned an average annual salary of $54,429.
- UnitedHealth Group, earned an average annual salary of $58,000.
- The U.S. Marine Corps, earned an average annual salary of $27,205.
- Centric Consulting, earned an average annual salary of $63,250.
- The U.S. Department of Defense, earned an average annual salary of $36,220.
- Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, earned an average annual salary of $68,730.
- American Airlines, earned an average annual salary of $77,950.
- PPG Industries, Inc., earned an average annual salary of $62,531.
- Lowe’s Companies, Inc., earned an average annual salary of $56,250.
- Amazon.com Inc., earned an average annual salary of $85,000.
- Capgemini, earned an average annual salary of $86,000.
- NXP Semiconductors Inc., earned an average annual salary of $71,944.
In order to gain a lucrative career in the field of Six Sigma quality, you will certainly need a good education. It should be noted, however, that Six Sigma Quality does not exist as a bachelor’s degree at present. Rather, it is recommended that people complete a bachelor’s degree in a field such as quality assurance, after which they can study towards a master’s degree, or complete certification.
One excellent example of a bachelor of science in quality assurance is offered by Cal State Online. This degree is available 100% online. The curriculum focuses on safety & reliability, manufacturing, technical communications, statistics and engineering. The program blends the basic sciences with technology, management principles, quality concepts and statistical tools needed to prepare professionals for careers in quality assurance.
To really advance your career, however, you should consider completing a master’s degree, particularly when it comes to the field of Six Sigma quality. This will give you the opportunity to gain the relevant advanced skills and knowledge in this challenging field, and set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. Fortunately, many master’s programs are now also offered online, which allows graduate students, who are likely to be already working, to better integrated their studies with their work schedules.
A very good example of a degree program suitable for those with an interest in Six Sigma Quality is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Six Sigma Online offered by Southern New Hampshire University. This degree is offered 100% online for the convenience of its students.
Each school is entitled to set its own admission requirements. However, they are usually quite similar across the board due to the fact that these requirements have to determine whether or not the applicant has the academic capacity to complete a program at graduate degree level. The admissions requirements for Southern New Hampshire University’s degree are:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Official transcripts
- TOEFL/IELTS for non-native English speakers
Uniquely, Southern New Hampshire University does not require GMAT/GRE scores, nor have they set a minimum GPA. Many other schools, however, would have those requirements.
Schools are allowed to specify the courses that make up their curriculum as they see fit. This is why it is very important to study with an accredited university, as this guarantees prospective employers that your degree included courses that meet the minimum requirements for the profession. For instance, the curriculum for the Southern New Hampshire University’s MBA in Six Sigma includes:
- Applied Statistics for Managers
- Six Sigma Quality Management
- Project Management
- Mathematics and Statistics for Business
- Economics for Business
- Financial Reporting and Analysis
- Business Law
- Human Behavior in Organizations
- Business Environment, Innovations and Entrepreneurship
- Accounting and Financial Analysis
- Leading in an Organization
- Marketing and Strategy
- Ethics, Corporate Culture and Social Responsibility
- Finance, Economics and Decision Making
- Government Impact on Business
- Operations Management and Technology
Obtaining an education, particularly a master’s degree for Six Sigma quality, is very expensive. First of all, you have to invest a substantial amount of time. While this can be mitigated to a degree by studying online, you will find that the amount of time required will still be quite substantial. The second major investment is a financial one. Fortunately, most colleges and universities will be able to signpost you to financial aid, and they may also have scholarships and grants available that you can apply for. At the same time, there are a number of external scholarships that you may want to consider. These include the:
- Creato Lean for Vets
- Mikel J. Harry Scholarship
- LSS Green Belt at UCSD Extension
- Lean Six Sigma Scholarship Value Scholarship for Veterans and Active Duty Military Personnel
- Six Sigma Wings for Heroes
- Lean Six Sigma Scholarship Program – iBPAP
Generally speaking, applying for a scholarship means that you have to comply with certain requirements. These include studying at a certain school, taking on a certain concentration, aiming to work in a certain field, demonstrating financial need, holding a minimum GPA, belonging to a certain minority group, being a member of a professional organization, or being of a certain gender.
Certification is certainly required in the field of Six Sigma quality. Through certification, you demonstrate that you are committed to your own professional development, and to the advancement of the field in general. Obtaining a certification requires further investments of time and money, and you often have to maintain certification through continuous education credits. However, most people would agree that this is a very worthy investment, as it opens new career doors in quality management. Six Sigma quality comes with a number of possible certifications for you to choose from, some of which will be offered to you as part of your master’s degree program, although you can also choose to complete them after your bachelor’s degree. Certifications available include the:
- Six Sigma Champion
- Six Sigma Yellow/Green Belt
- Six Sigma Brown/Black Belt
- Six Sigma Master Black Belt
It is advisable to become a member of professional organizations as soon as you decide to get a Six Sigma certification, or even at while you are at the bachelor’s level. This is because professional associations and organizations often offer scholarships and grants that you could then become eligible for. Also, by being a member of associations, you will always be at the forefront of new developments within your field, ensuring your skills are always up to date. Additionally, you may be able to complete certifications and continuous education credits. Finally, by being a part of a professional organization, you can build a professional network that will serve to further your career.
Some of the associations in the field of Six Sigma quality you may want to consider becoming a member of include:
- The International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC)
- The International Society of Six Sigma Professionals Certification (ISSSPC)
- Lean Six Sigma International Association of Professionals (LSSIAP)
- Lean & Six Sigma World Organization
- The Council for Six Sigma Certification
- What Is Six Sigma? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.isixsigma.com/new-to-six-sigma/getting-started/what-six-sigma/
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Industrial Production Managers. (2016, May). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/industrial-production-managers.htm
- Average Salary for Certification: Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt. (2017, Apr. 29). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Certified_Six_Sigma_Yellow_Belt/Salary
- Bachelor of Science in Quality Assurance. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.calstateonline.net/Degrees/BACHELORS/Dominguez-Hills-Bachelor-of-Science-in-Quality-Assurance
- MBA in Six Sigma Quality. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/mba-online/mba-in-six-sigma