Six Sigma vs. PMP Certification: What’s the Difference?

Differences between Six Sigma and PMP certifications

Six Sigma focuses more on the elimination or reduction of defects within a certain process, rather than managing project work. In contrast, the PMP aims to improve the success rate of completed projects according to budgets, deadlines and project scopes.

One of the most well-known certifications in the management world is the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. Another is the Six Sigma certification. For aspiring project managers, the PMP certification provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is regarded as the benchmark. You can improve business processes with the knowledge of tools and techniques provided by the Six Sigma certification. If you have a PMP certification, should you think about getting your Six Sigma certification as well? Alternatively, if you don’t have a PMP certification, which should you choose: PMP or Six Sigma?

Project management and Six Sigma have been promoted together and contrasted on occasion. Which certification is preferable—Six Sigma or Project Management Professional (PMP) certification—is one of the most frequently asked questions. PMP vs Six Sigma – the struggle is very real.

In many organizations, both certifications are almost equivalent to successful project management. While they share many similarities, there are also a few significant differences that could help you make a decision. By first understanding both, you can choose between the PMP and Six Sigma certifications. Let’s start with PMP.

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Differences between Six Sigma and PMP certifications

Despite the fact that both credentials are relevant to project management, there are some significant differences between the Six Sigma and PMP credentials:

Certification focus

The primary distinction between the PMP and Six Sigma certifications is how each one is intended to be used. Instead of overseeing project work, Six Sigma places a greater emphasis on the elimination or reduction of defects within a particular process. The PMP, in contrast, aims to increase the success rate of projects that are completed in accordance with budgets, deadlines, and project scopes.

Project and process management

Despite the fact that project managers can benefit from both credentials, each has a different overall goal. The Six Sigma certification’s goal is to support data-driven techniques for identifying and resolving operational risks. This method of process management identifies particular activities that may be problematic for effectiveness and quality. Contrarily, the PMP’s goal is to support project work at all stages, from the beginning to the end of a project’s life cycle. Along with workflow management, this project management methodology also employs techniques that diverge from the Six Sigma methodology.

Industry applications

The use of the credentials in various industries is another significant distinction between the PMP and Six Sigma ones. Your project management skills can be demonstrated using the PMP in any industry, including technology, business management, and sales and marketing. In the manufacturing sector, where the methodology helps businesses achieve higher levels of product quality, Six Sigma is more prevalent.

Availability and requirements

Another significant difference between each certification is the availability. While there are numerous organizations that offer the Six Sigma certification, only the PMI offers the PMP. The eligibility requirements for each exam also differ. Having roughly 4,500 hours of professional project management experience and completing project management training from a PMI-approved provider are frequently prerequisites for being eligible to sit for the PMP exam.

Contrarily, Six Sigma requirements differ depending on the certification level you’re pursuing. For instance, obtaining a green belt typically requires several years of project management experience, whereas obtaining a black belt typically necessitates actual experience utilizing the Six Sigma methodology.

What is the Six Sigma vs. the PMP certification?

Six Sigma certification

The Six Sigma certification denotes proficiency and knowledge in the Six Sigma project management methodology. The PMP is a general credential for project managers across industries, whereas the Six Sigma certification is unique to this manufacturing process management methodology. Six Sigma practitioners concentrate on particular project components or operations to minimize variations, production flaws, and manufacturing defects. This helps businesses improve quality and increase successful outcomes.

The total number of certifications is another difference between the Six Sigma and PMP certifications. Contrary to the PMP credential, the Six Sigma certification consists of a number of levels, each of which corresponds to a different colored “belt” for which you can obtain a certification. Professionals who use Six Sigma to manage teams and projects frequently hold a Six Sigma master black belt, which is the method’s highest level of certification. The levels below the master black belt are represented by the white, yellow, green, and black belts, but you can earn any Six Sigma certification in any order.

PMP certification

Another advantageous certification that project managers can obtain to demonstrate their abilities as leaders of people and in overseeing projects to completion is the PMP certification. It is a single certification, as opposed to the multiple levels of Six Sigma certifications, and it denotes mastery of a number of fundamental project management concepts, such as the initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing phases.

Similarities between Six Sigma and PMP certifications

Both certifications can have similar characteristics, including:

Project management focus

Despite applying fundamental principles differently, both certifications are focused on enhancing project management methodologies. Due to their recognition of competence and knowledge in the nuances of project management processes, the Six Sigma and PMP credentials are both advantageous for project managers. Managers can better plan and direct activities to achieve key objectives with the help of Six Sigma concepts to find and eliminate waste and defects and PMP principles to initiate, oversee, and successfully complete projects.

Levels of expertise

Your level of project management expertise is another aspect of the Six Sigma and PMP credentials that overlap. To be eligible for the exams for both certifications, candidates must have experience managing projects, processes, and workflow. No matter which certification you’re considering, it’s crucial to develop your skills in team leadership, integrating improvement strategies, and supporting business objectives.

International recognition

International recognition is granted to the PMP and the Six Sigma certifications. This implies that individuals with Six Sigma or PMP certifications can transfer their credentials to other nations where employers outside of the country do so. The benefit of this international recognition may result in more job opportunities in a variety of work settings.


Additionally, both certifications have many benefits that can help you advance your career. Employers frequently favor project managers with Six Sigma and PMP certifications over applicants without these credentials. Both certifications have the potential for higher income, as some employers may pay professionals well when they can demonstrate their skills through these certifications. Your career advancement can be supported by Six Sigma or PMP certification, with the possibility of promotions into more senior roles.

Tips for choosing a certification path

Taking into account the following factors can help you decide which certification path to take:

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


Is Six Sigma better than PMP?

As a result, the PMP and Six Sigma methodologies work well together. In actuality, both approaches are essential to a successful business model. While project managers work to meet deadlines and manage risk, Six Sigma is more effective at producing results of higher quality.

Should I get PMP or Six Sigma first?

I advise the candidate to start with Six Sigma training because PMP requires more detail in other areas and memorization for the certification. They will be significantly more ready for the PMP training. Additionally, they will display a Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

Does Six Sigma training count towards PMP?

Yes, it counts; simply access your dashboard and complete the necessary fields.

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