ISSP Six Sigma Standards

ISSP Standards


The following document outlines the accreditation process, membership levels and training standards individuals and organisations can use to gain formal accreditations from the ISSP at:

Yellow Belt Six Sigma

Green Belt Six Sigma

Black Belt Six Sigma


Accreditation Process

In order to hold these prestigious statuses there is a strict process within the ISSP Accreditation Unit.

We have condensed this into a simple step-by-step guide, as follows:

  1. Join as a Member. All individuals must first join the ISSP as a Member: the standard level of membership. The fee at this stage is compulsory. If the candidate is successful in their later application for Professional or Fellowship status, the initial fee will be taken off their payment. In order to join as a Member please visit


  1. Sit the ISSP Exam. The ISSP has developed a 60 minute open book exam which can be accessed via email or an accredited partner. This test is designed for members to prove they have the knowledge and understanding that is required to be a successful Black Belt/Master Black Belt. Please note: The exam for Professionals/Fellows is the same. The difference between the two levels is measured by other means, see below. The exam is open book and multiple choice. The exam has a pass rate of 80%, and members who are successful will be invited to the next stage. Members who are unsuccessful are encouraged to re-sit the exam at a later date. There is no limit to the amount of times a member can sit the online exam. The ISSP is committed to providing support and feedback to those initially unsuccessful to ensure they improve and ultimately pass.



  1. Submit Portfolio. This stage requires applicants to submit their Six Sigma project work to be reviewed by the ISSP Board. It is at this stage where Professional applicants and Fellow applicants are separated. In order to continue the process, applicants are now required to submit a top up fee of either £30 (Professional) or £50 (Fellow), plus a £30 application fee. These fees are non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the application. They can be submitted via cheque made out to the Institute of Six Sigma Professionals or electronic BACs.


Professional applicants are required to demonstrate skills, knowledge and experience in the following areas:


  • Applicants must have completed at least 2 strategically significant business change projects. Evidence required: Summary of 2 projects in the last 18 months.
  • They must have mentored other individuals within their improvement projects. Evidence required: Summary of mentoring given, and references from at least one person mentored.
  • Completion of formal Black Belt training. Evidence required: Summary of course outline and copies of any certificates issued.
  • Specifically the applicant must demonstrate examples where they:
    • Dealt with non normal data in appropriate circumstances.
    • Completed measurement systems analysis to improve confidence in data collected.
    • Used advanced statistics, such as hypothesis testing to identify change.
    • Used non linear regression to build accurate models of processes.
    • Cmpleted design of experiment studies to optimise processes.
    • Please note: Evidence of the above may be covered by the required summary of two recent projects. If not, additional evidence should be submitted.

Members applying for Fellowship must provide all of the above, and in addition:

  • Applicants must have developed significant business improvement knowledge, skills and behaviours in a variety of business improvement disciplines, such as LEAN, Theory of Constraints, PRINCE2 etc. Evidence required: Summary of projects and training certificates.
  • Delivered training for, and mentored, both black and green belts within their organisation. Evidence required: Summary of training and mentoring delivered, plus references from those mentored.
  • Have gained at least 2 years industrial sector experience at black belt level. Evidence required: Up to date CV.
  • Have maintained both a professional and development record over the past 2 years, examples include updating skills to meet the rapid advances of computer processing power to perform complex data analysis, attending networking and conference events, witting research papers on six sigma tool development. Evidence required: CPD record.


  1. Results sent to applicant. Successful applicants will be notified via email within 14 days of receipt of the portfolio submission. They will receive a confirmation letter and their ISSP Certificate. Unsuccessful applicants will also be notified via email within 14 days. They will be provided with detailed feedback, including areas requiring improvement, to enable them to reapply and successfully achieve their desired level. Unsuccessful applicants who reapply within one year will not be required to pay the application and top up fees again.













Guidance Notes on Membership Grades

– Affiliate (£200 Annual Fee)* – Affiliate membership is appropriate when joining as a business. It is essentially corporate membership. Affiliates will have access to all events at a discounted member rate, including some that will be tailored for rolling out Six Sigma across a business. They will also have the opportunity to contribute to the network, and offer services to members, such as posting Six Sigma job vacancies. Affiliates can also run events through the ISSP for their members of staff. Please contact for more details.  Companies looking for their own programme accreditation must join as an affiliate to apply.



– Member (£59 One off joining fee)*. Individuals who are qualified to Yellow or Green Belt standard can apply to become Members. However, it is not essential to have any Six Sigma training at all, merely an interest in Six Sigma is sufficient. Members are entitled to attend events at a discounted rate and also will have full access to the Knowledge Centre, online CPD (Continuous Professional Development) facilities and job listings.


– Professional (£89 one off joining fee)* – In order to become a Professional member of the Institute of Six Sigma Professionals, individuals will be required to first join as a Member and then to have their Six Sigma training and experience accredited by the ISSP. Details of the ISSP standards and the process to apply for accreditation can be found in the resource library.  Professional members of the organisation will have opportunities to access the Knowledge Centre, the job listings and gain further discounts on a wide range of events and services. They will also be able to use the online CPD programme to enhance their knowledge and work their way towards Master Black Belt status.


– Fellow (£109 one off joining fee)* ­– To become a Fellow, individuals must be qualified Master Black Belts to ISSP Standard. In addition to benefiting from the wide ranges of features that the other levels of membership have access to, Fellows will also have the opportunity to contribute to the Knowledge Centre; by writing and peer-reviewing articles, run events and be invited to guest-speak at conferences. They can also monitor their development with the online CPD programme.  Potential Fellows must submit an additional application at either Member or Professional stage and will be awarded the prestigious award should they meet the ISSP Fellow of Six Sigma Professional standard.


– Student Membership (£20 Annual Fee then one off fee relating to level attained)* – Students who can provide evidence of being in full time education can gain full membership at the student rate.


* All fees are subject to VAT.

Institute of Six Sigma Professionals Standards


The ISSP define a Yellow Belt as an individual who has a good understanding of Six Sigma; it is general awareness that is useful for those who are not directly involved but will be supporting, sponsoring and resourcing Six Sigma projects. In certain circumstances they may be encouraged to run their own small projects under guidance and support from and Green or Black Belt professional.


A typical Yellow Belt programme would last between 1 to 2 days.


No formal assessment is required, however 100% attendance is expected of the training sessions.  Optional project activity is also encouraged.

Minimum Content:

Yellow Belt qualified individuals should understand the following:

  • The principles and importance of business improvement.
  • The DMAIC process as an improvement and project management model and the key activities required for each stage.
  • The importance of determining the “voice of the customer” and defining “value” in terms of customer requirements.
  • The basics of measuring and analysing performance, through key performance indicators and simple statistics.
  • The identification and evaluation of solutions.
  • The best methods to established ongoing process control and improvement through Standardisation.


Example Content:

Day 1:      Introduction to Six Sigma


Project Chart

Voice of the customer

Process Mapping, spaghetti diagrams, before pictures


Data collection plan

Appreciation of graphical and mathematical methods of describing the process

Day 2:      Analysis:

Variation studies – common cause, special cause, operator, sampling and measurement error

Understanding the link between the output (Y) and the inputs (X)


Idea generation and brainstorming techniques

Prioritisation techniques

Piloting solutions

Before and after comparisons


Control plan

Tracking process drift





The ISSP define a Green Belt qualified individual as someone who is able to solve technical and challenging problems through the Six Sigma method. They can lead projects and support Black Belts as they deliver larger more strategic change.  The main elements of a Green Belt qualification should be the use of DMAIC, using statistics to make better decisions and managing change.


A typical Green Belt programme: Study time: 5 – 8 days in the class room, plus a minimum of 3 support and mentoring days from a Black Belt while the Green Belt trainees complete their assessment.


Assessment would be through a project, lasting no more than 3 months and deliver significant business improvement.  The ISSP does not insist on delegates sitting an exam – however the ISSP have examples of Green Belt tests which can be used to assess training competencies.

Minimum Content:

Individuals will be able to understand:

  • The principles of Six Sigma and how it can be used as a powerful business improvement tool.
  • The tools and techniques needed to analysis a value chain, and subsequent process maps.
  • How to use the 7 Quality Tools to challenge and improve the status quo.
  • The concepts needed to make change stick.
  • The power of software to simulate processes and improvement opportunities.
  • Basic well known Six Sigma statistical tools such as hypothesis testing, linear regression and simple full factorial design of experiments (DoE).


Example Content:


Typically Green belt programmes are delivered in 3-4 blocks of 2-3 days.


Part 1:

Introduction to Six Sigma

Define: Project charters, project management techniques, voice of the customer, critical to quality, cost of poor quality, kano model, SIPOC, process mapping, X&Y, spaghetti diagrams, cause and effect matrix

Measure: Types of data, shape of distributions, sampling strategies, measurement systems analysis, gauge R&R studies, measures of variation, and measures of central tendency

Part 2:

Analysis: 5 whys, root cause analysis, fish bone diagrams, process capability, cpk/ppk, DPMO, sigma benchmark, yield, process stability studies, non-normal data strategies, hypothesis testing

Part 3:

Improve: Lean tools, process modelling, correlation and regression, design of experiments, brain storming, prioritisation and demonstrating change

Control: Control plans Engineering fixes, Documentation updates, training an development, measurement of drift, and change management


Both Yellow Belt and Green Belt trained individuals are entitled to join the Institute of Six Sigma Professionals (ISSP) as a Member.



A qualified Black Belt, as defined by ISSP, will not only know the topics listed above and be able to apply Six Sigma, but will also be able to manipulate the methods in order to be successful in different circumstances. Individuals with this level of knowledge will be able to select the most appropriate method depending on the situation. They will be able to generate innovative and creative ways to solve complex challenges.  They are expected to be able to champion and lead continuous improvement in their organisation and train and develop staff internal to at least Green Belt standard.


A typical Black Belt programme: Study time: 20 – 25 days in the class room, plus a minimum of 6 support and mentoring days from a Master Black Belt.


Assessment would be through a minimum of 2 strategically important projects, each lasting no more than 6 months and delivering significant business improvement. In addition delegates are required to pass an exam which is designed to test the delegates on their academic and theoretical knowledge of six sigma.

Minimum Content:

Black belt programmes are required to challenge the delegates in three areas: Leadership, Programme Management and Advance Statistics.


Example Content:

Black belt programmes are best delivered over a 3 month period, in blocks of 4-5 days.  By the time delegates complete the class room activity they will need to understand everything at Green Belt standard, and:

  • The DMAIC and other continuous improvement approaches, such as Systems Thinking, Lean and Theory of Constraints
  • Project selection, management and stakeholder analysis.
  • How to lead and implement a continuous improvement culture within their organisation
  • Alternative process mapping and modelling techniques
  • Use statistical software such as Minitab.
  • Advanced process capability studies, non-normal capability studies, Binomial and Poisson studies.
  • Measurement systems analysis, bias and linearity.
  • Measuring the cost of poor quality.
  • Hypothesis testing – normal and non-normal, continuous and discrete data.
  • Confidence intervals, correlation, non-linear regression and non-linear regression analysis and modelling.
  • Multi-variance studies.
  • Advanced DoE techniques, including Reverse DoE, Response Surface Methodology.
  • FMEA, Mistake Proofing Advance process stability and control charting.


Individuals who meet the above criteria may apply to become a Professional member of the Institute of Six Sigma Professionals after passing an online exam with a minimum mark of 80% and providing a portfolio of evidence to the ISSP accreditation unit. If a potential member has been on a Black Belt course but not within ISSP standards, they will be asked to complete a CPD programme to meet the requirements before they are granted Professional status.


The final level of Six Sigma is a Master Black Belt. ISSP characterises this as an individual who, after gaining Black Belt status, has:

  • Evidence of continuous personal development. They should be able to show they have had at least two years experience of continuous project work. They should also be seen to be attending conferences and seminars to continually develop their skills within the Six Sigma field.
  • Mentored and supported Yellow, Green and Black Belts within their organisations and/or consultancy projects.
  • Been involved with the training, or at least the steering of training, of lower levels.
  • Have significant sector experience within their chosen field and a minimum of 2 years’ service delivering projects within the sector


In order to become a Fellow of the Institute of Six Sigma Professionals, an individual must go through the ISSP Accreditation Unit.  They will need to prove they have developed a discipline and practice in the field, and pushed boundaries within Six Sigma. Essentially, they should be “ambassadors” for the subject within their sector or organisation, for example, written articles or books, given speeches etc. They should also be able to provide a Personal Development Record proving their knowledge, achievements and improvements over many years. They will have to pass an online exam as part of their professional accreditation, with a minimum mark of 80% and provide a portfolio of evidence.


Professionals and Fellows of the Institute will receive formal awards accredited by the ISSP and will therefore require formal application to the accreditation unit.