Process Improvement Degree and Certificate Programs with Career Info
Research process improvement certificate and degree programs. Get information about courses, education requirements and certification as well as career options, employment outlook and salary information to make an informed decision about your education.
Certificate in Manufacturing Process Improvement
Students in these 1- to 2-semester programs learn to minimize cost and waste while improving productivity and product quality. Because quality in manufacturing requires knowledge of a variety of job functions, programs may require visits to manufacturing facilities as part of the curriculum. Applicants to these programs are required to have completed high school.
Students learn to set goals, satisfy customer requirements and create ways to perform a job properly the first time. Other topics covered in these programs may include:
- Internal auditing
- Quality assurance
- Work cell design
Popular Career Options
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2010 there were 416,100 quality control inspectors in the U.S. (www.bls.gov). Among these, entry-level workers were employed in the following posts:
- Materials inspectors
- Mechanical inspectors
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) certifies Quality Inspectors who have two years of relevant experience and a high school diploma (www.asq.org). Those who have not completed high school are required to have an additional three years of professional experience in mechanical inspection or a related field.
Earning the credential requires that applicants pass a 4-hour, 100-question, open-book examination. Recertification is not required as the Quality Inspector credential is a lifetime certification.
Graduate Certificate in Lean Six Sigma
These 1-semester programs are offered through business administration or engineering management departments. Students prepare to improve efficiency by defining problems, measuring achievement, analyzing and improving shortcomings as well as controlling future processes in a variety of workplaces. Online training options are available.
Applicants to these programs are required to have completed a Bachelor of Science degree in a scientific discipline. Some programs require that students already be enrolled in a graduate program prior to admission or have at least two years of relevant experience
Improving processes requires knowledge of data analysis, analytical tools and business management. Additional topics that might also be available to students include:
- Design methodology
- Management strategy
- Manufacturing systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS employment projections from 2010-2020 showed that inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers were expected to see an eight percent increase in job opportunities for the decade. These professionals earned a median annual wage of $27,390 as of the May 2011 BLS report. According to the same source, the highest paying wages were found in the natural gas distribution industries.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The ASQ also certifies quality managers, auditors and engineers. While certification requirements vary by credential, applicants are commonly required to have at least eight years of related experience, with at least three years of this experience in a decision-making position. Recertification requirements must be met every three years; recertification requires that applicants either take an examination or prove a certain amount of continuing education credit.
A variety of types of Six Sigma Certifications are offered through ASQ, for both the project level and the organizational level. Some credentials - like the Six Sigma Green Belt certification - are lifetime certifications, while others require renewal.
Master of Business Administration Programs Covering Process Improvement
In addition to looking at case studies, students in these 18- to 24-month programs learn about how quantitative methods and supply chain fundamentals relate to process improvement. Programs may either be called process improvement programs or take their name from the name of an industry method of process improvement, like Six Sigma. Some programs offer students the opportunity to serve as unpaid quality improvement consultants at various worksites.
Applicants are required to be college graduates, though not necessarily from a specific type of program. Candidates for admission are generally also required to submit GMAT scores and a professional resume to complete their admissions packet.
Programs prepare graduates for employment in health care, manufacturing, retail, finance, logistics and consulting services by focusing on the underlying principles behind business administration and process improvement. Topics commonly covered in these types of programs include:
- Project management
- Quantitative methods
- Supply chains
Continuing Education Information
Doctoral training in business administration is available both as Doctor of Business Administration and Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration programs. These programs generally take 4-6 years to complete.
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