How many people are Six Sigma certified?

six sigma professional women

I was recently asked an interesting question, how many people are six Sigma certified?  The short answer is:  There is no way to know.  There are a few reasons for that.

  1. There is no governing body and no singular certification source.
  2. Many people work with Six Sigma but have no formal certification or are certified directly within their company.
  3. There is no singular database that lists certified professionals. LinkedIn is the best source for information, but even that is very limited.

We’re not willing to just give up however, so MSI decided to try digging into the numbers to determine how many people are Six Sigma certified.  It wasn’t easy, and the number we reached is just an estimate.  Nevertheless, let’s dig into the numbers!

Six Sigma certifications listed on

When we search LinkedIn, we find over 8.7 million mentions of Six Sigma.  Many of these however, are not on resumes.  There are thousands of articles that mention the term, as well as hundreds of companies that have mentioned it.

We need to dig deeper to find the number of people who actually mention Six Sigma certification on their resumes.  We started by searching for some of the well-known certification bodies and then determining how many Six Sigma certified professionals listed those companies.  For example, over 39,000 people list an MSI six sigma certification on their LinkedIn profiles.

This method was quite time-consuming, taking several hours of searching, recording the results in Excel, and then generating reports to sort it all out.  In the end, it was reasonably successful.  We were able to estimate that 1.2 million people have some form of a Six Sigma certification on their Linkedin profiles.  We didn’t try to differentiate between the belts.  We treated a Six Sigma White Belt certification the same as a Six Sigma Black Belt certification since we’re trying to measure the total number of certifications, not a per-Belt breakdown.  1.2 million is an impressive number and exciting for several reasons.

  1. It shows the incredible popularity of this improvement method.
  2. It shows there is a long way to go.
  3. Only a small percentage of people update their Linkedin profile.

Open Six Sigma job positions

Once we were done searching Linkedin, we asked ourselves what other data can we mine for certification information.  It occurred to us that looking at open job positions for Six Sigma might yield some additional information.

We started by searching for all open job positions mentioning Six Sigma on popular job search engines.  Here’s what we found:

  • – 23,534 open positions
  • – 14,433 open positions
  • – 19,425 open positions
  • – 110 open positions
  • – 10,000 open positions
  • – 26 open positions
  • – 14,485 open positions


Added together, these equal over 82k open positions for Six Sigma certified professionals.  The issue of job-posting overlap quickly arose when we saw the same job posting on several sites.  We exported as much data as possible and worked to eliminate duplicates.  When this was complete, we estimated that there were over 62k open positions that mentioned Six Sigma.

How can we use this data?

We’re going to have to make some assumptions to use this data.

  • Assumption #1 – Open job postings represent 15% of the total number of Six Sigma jobs.
  • Assumption #2 – 50% of the applicants that fill a Six Sigma job position do not have a certification.

Using these assumptions, we can estimate that there are a total of 413,330k jobs in the US for some type of Six Sigma job role.  This does not include jobs in Continuous Improvement, which would increase the number of jobs tremendously.  We can also estimate that someone without a certification will fill 50% of those jobs.  This means they would not list a Six Sigma certification on their resume or LinkedIn profile.  This gives us an additional 206K people that we can add to our 1.2 million estimate from earlier.

The answer to how many people are Six Sigma certified.

MSI estimates that approximately 1.4 million people in the U.S. hold some form of Six Sigma certification.  These certifications can range from a simple White Belt all the way to a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  It’s safe to assume that number can easily be doubled to 2.8 million six Sigma certified professionals when you include international holders.  Six Sigma continues to be very popular outside the US, especially in countries like the UK and Japan.

Several facts we do know:

  • The number of Six Sigma certified professionals is growing daily. MSI issues new certifications daily at every belt level.  Six Sigma White Belt certifications make up the majority of these certifications, which is great news for the industry.  It means new professionals are taking an interest in learning about process improvement.
  • Six Sigma came to prominence in the mid-1980s.  That means in the next 7-10 years, the first practitioners of Six Sigma will start to retire.  As this happens, we’ll begin to lose some of the experienced Six Sigma Black Belts and Six Sigma Champions throughout the country.  Let’s hope the incoming professionals continue to grow the field of process improvement and utilize the benefits of Six Sigma for years to come.