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Six Sigma certification is divided into belt levels, much like the kind you’d find in the martial arts. Let’s go over each now to help you better understand this powerful system.

Yellow Belt

A Six Sigma Yellow Belt is someone who has passed the certification and examination for their Green Belt, but hasn’t yet completed an actual Six Sigma project. A big part of certification in this methodology is real-world proficiency, not just passing tests. While Yellow Belts are still going to be big assets to a company, they are not going to be as effective as Green Belts.

Green Belt

The Green Belt designation is for those who work on projects part-time (25%). Their role is either as a member of a team working on a complex project or being the leader of a team tackling a simpler one.

Either way, a Green Belt is going to be treated as the work horse of a Six Sigma project. Often, their job is running numbers and calculating statistics for the Black Belts above them. Nonetheless, this is important training to help them grow and become better with Six Sigma.

In a Six Sigma organization, Green Belts are often managers, so even though this is the bottom rung, it still involves a lot of responsibility and an impressive skill set.

Brown Belt

Like Yellow Belts, Brown Belts are those who are Green Belt certified, but haven’t done the necessary project to gain them Black Belt status.

Black Belt

As you can imagine, the Black Belt is the highest level to Six Sigma. Actually, there’s one more level, which we’ll cover next, but for all intents and purposes, if you’ve gotten your Black Belt in Six Sigma, you are considered adept in the methodology and capable of running a team focused on a unified goal.

Aside from having received their Green Belt, most Six Sigma Black Belt applicants have certain attributes in common. This includes things like:

  • Excellent communication skills – both oral and written
  • A passion for statistics
  • A mastery for managerial and technical process improvement
  • Experience working with teams
  • A people-person

Those with Black Belts also tend to share the same type of workload. This may include things like:

  • Preparing project charters
  • Leading project teams
  • Scheduling and holding meetings
  • Coordinating logistics
  • Recommending Six Sigma projects
  • Leading and coaching Green Belts

This last part is extremely important. Six Sigma is easier to learn when someone from the belt above you is actively helping. That’s why organizations that want to implement Six Sigma need their Black Belts to mentor those under them.

Master Black Belt

Finally, the Master Black Belt is someone who is seen as the keeper of the company’s Six Sigma processes. They are the advisor to executives and/or business unit managers and may even report to them directly.

Becoming a Master Black Belt takes years of study and working under another Master before getting to this level.

As you can see, there are many levels to Six Sigma, which is yet another example of how well it is organized. Though it will take a lot of work, improving your belt level will be a huge help to your company and will improve your employment prospects as well.


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