Which Certification Has More Value: PMP or Lean Six Sigma?

People who are unsure whether to pursue Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification or Lean Six Sigma (LSS) certification often ask, “which is better?” These two distinct methodologies are complementary, so framing the question in “Lean Six Sigma vs. PMP” terms may be misguided. Additionally, employers often list both certifications as job requirements, and many professionals hold dual certification. To determine which one is right for you or whether to pursue both of these high-value credentials, there are important factors to consider.

This article outlines the similarities and differences between the PMP and LSS certifications, provides guidelines for choosing between them, and discusses the benefits of dual certification for project management and LSS professionals.

Similarities Between LSS and PMP Certifications

PMP or Six Sigma?
Both certifications:

  • Help professionals improve process performance
  • Employ a five-phase methodology
  • Are globally recognized and in demand by employers
  • Apply to various function areas across industries
  • Help employees add value to their organization
  • Expand career opportunities
  • Lead to higher earnings potential

Differences Between LSS and PMP Certifications


LSS certification provides individuals with a problem-solving framework, drawing heavily on statistical analysis to reduce or eliminate waste, lower defects, and improve customer satisfaction. With LSS projects, the emphasis is on developing and implementing a process that ensures quality. The five phases of the Lean Six Sigma process are: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.

PMP certification teaches individuals how to lead and direct a team, and use a set of processes to effectively plan, orchestrate and control complex projects. They learn how to gain buy-in, manage risk, and establish effective stakeholder communication, among other skills. With project management, the emphasis is on developing and implementing processes to ensure a project is successfully completed on time and on budget. The five phases of project management methodology are: Initiate, Plan, Launch, Monitor and Control, and Close.

Earning and Maintaining Certification

Lean Six Sigma is a trajectory. Individuals gain mastery by progressing through a hierarchy of certifications that includes Lean Six Sigma Green Belt online certification and Six Sigma Black Belt online certification. These certifications have no expiration date, and no single organization administers LSS certification exams.

Individuals earn the PMP designation by passing the PMP exam, which is administered solely by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. To take the exam, individuals must meet PMI eligibility requirements, which include professional project management training and experience. To pass PMI’s rigorous PMP exam, individuals must demonstrate thorough knowledge of the Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The PMP certification process can take several years and the certification must be renewed every three years through professional development units.

How to Choose Between PMP Certification and LSS Certification

The right choice depends on your current role or the position you are seeking and your long-term career objectives. If you want to be a project manager, the PMP designation immediately validates your competence and commitment to serving in this role. At many companies, this credential is mandatory for project managers. Additionally, the 2018 PMI Salary Survey of 33,000 certification holders from 37 countries, showed that PMP certification holders earn 23% more than their peers without the credential.

A Lean Six Sigma online certification is essential for Individuals working in or pursuing quality assurance roles in industries, including manufacturing and finance, that are heavy users of Lean Six Sigma. As with PMP certification, LSS certification can expand your job opportunities and provide you with knowledge and skills that enable you to perform your job better. Additionally, your earnings potential increases with each level of LSS certification. PayScale reports that in the United States an operations manager with a Green Belt earns an average annual salary of $80,726 and a project manager with a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification earns an average annual salary of $92,886.

Keep in mind, though, that choosing which credential to pursue often isn’t a Lean Six Sigma vs. PMP proposition. They complement each other, and many professionals choose to earn both.

How Professionals Can Benefit from Dual LSS and PMP Certification

The benefits of holding both LSS certification and PMP certification include:

  • Improved hiring potential and eligibility for positions that require both credentials
  • Competitive advantage for positions that require only one of these credentials
  • Expanded professional networking opportunities through membership in PMI and organizations including the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and International Society of Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP).
  • Greater career flexibility, enabling professionals in process improvement or project management to shift their career in either direction
  • Ability to add even more value to an organization through proficiency in both disciplines
  • Ability to integrate project management and LSS strategies
  • Ability to train others in either methodology

Wherever you are on your career path, Purdue University offers online LSS and online Project Management training and certification courses that help you stand out in the crowd. These 100 percent online, university-based courses are developed and taught by leading industry professionals who meet Purdue’s high standards of academic excellence. They provide online learners with personalized, hands-on instruction and are dedicated to student success. Many of Purdue’s instructors hold both PMP certification and Black Belt or Master Black Belt certification.

You can choose one or more of these project management and LSS courses to take your career to the next level:

Project Management Professional, PMP and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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