A Guide to the Six Sigma Belts from White Belt to Black Belt
Have you heard of the Six Sigma belts? Learn what roles you’ll play in a project with our guide to every Six Sigma level.
If you’re in the business management world, you’ve likely heard of Six Sigma.
It’s one of the most utilized, influential and respected management methodologies worldwide.
But, like many management strategies, sometimes the famous name can obscure the specifics. People assume they understand Six Sigma, but depending on their level of experience with it, they may have misconceptions about it.
If you’re someone who is either unfamiliar with it, or slightly familiar with it but lacking in details, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we go over some of the basics of Six Sigma and get into the details of the Six Sigma Belts.
Sound interesting? Keep reading to find out more!
Six Sigma Basics
The most intriguing part of Six Sigma is that it’s a tool that can be applied across almost any industry with equal effectiveness.
It’s a set of tools and methods gearing specifically towards improving management and business processes.
At its core, Six Sigma is a mechanism for finding flaws in systems and locating their origins. Once the causes of these flaws are determined and corrected, Six Sigma tools can then be utilized for a consistent repetition of this process.
It, therefore, allows business to not only detect and fix problems but establish a systematic approach to combat the same problems from occurring in the future. Or at least a method to systematically address them when they arise.
White Belts are the bare bones achievement of Six Sigma. They are reserved for those completely new to Six Sigma methodologies.
People can attain a white belt with only a few hours of Six Sigma training. And, since the belt doesn’t require any testing, it’s largely ceremonial.
The more substantial belts begin in the next levels.
The Six Sigma yellow belt training is most commonly used by companies who are implementing Six Sigma fundamentals in their management process.
Having employees all have at least a baseline of Six Sigma training allows for everyone to have basic fluency in the principles, and reduces confusion as they are put into use.
Yellow belt training in Six Sigma involves learning the basics of the training and provides participants with a baseline of literacy with regard to the language used. It also teaches them the core principles of the process.
Some people choose to stop at the yellow belt level. But most people who are looking to become leaders in their field and applying the Six Sigma methodology down the road choose to advance to the next belts.
The first requirement for attaining the green belt level is that the participants have to have completed at least three years of employment in projects that have a direct relationship to improving processes.
This employment has to be full time and doesn’t count any time spent as an intern. And at the end of the course, you have to pass a 100-question multiple choice exam.
The training specifics for a green belt can vary somewhat, depending on where the training occurs, but it largely focuses on case studies. These case studies are meant to highlight the processes and tools utilized in Six Sigma as a whole.
During the green belt training, you learn about the five main categories of Six Sigma, which are: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.
This is where trainees are taught the skills to charter a project. They are expected to either develop a new case study or take a look at one already in existence.
In the “define” segment, professionals learn how to put together teams and divvy up responsibilities to team members. They also learn how to assume the point of view of a customer in order to establish goals.
In this segment, you also learn how to be constantly evaluating the process and make any necessary adjustments.
In the “measure” segment, you learn the nuances of collecting data, reporting it, and analyzing it. In doing so, you are learning how to chart out the basic processes of Six Sigma.
Because of the focus on data collection in this segment, you are better equipped to measure performance towards specific goals, as well as to prepare reports that guide others towards these goals.
As the name suggests, the “analyze” segment puts a focus on interpreting data. You’ll be taught specific Six Sigma principles for data analysis.
Through these, you’ll be able to show cause and effect relationships throughout the Six Sigma processes.
In this segment, you learn how not only to apply specific improvements into the previously analyzed data but also the strategies for making sure those improvements continue.
This is accomplished by setting up specific standards and then having systems in place to monitor those standards.
The final area teaches more advanced tools that are geared more towards performance consistency over time.
This ranges from slight alterations to improved processes or the transitioning from one stage of the process into another.
The black belt employment requirements are the same as the green belt. And black belt trainees must also have completed two Six Sigma projects.
You’ll need to take a 150-question exam, as well. But you don’t necessarily have to have taken green belt training.
The black belt level is meant to focus more on leadership, so it teaches a more leadership specific set of strategies and tools.
You’ll be expected to master Six Sigma principles, and then show an ability to lead teams through various strategies of process improvement.
You’ll also be challenged with a wide variety of problem-solving and improvement challenges. This is essential since other belt levels will be ultimately led by black belt holders.
Master Black Belts
Once you achieve a black belt, you are eligible to start training for a master black belt. You’ll also need 5 years of full-time experience or proof of 10 Six Sigma projects.
This is the most elite level of Six Sigma training, and it entails application of all of the Six Sigma tools and skills to tackle a wide variety of projects.
Trainees will be expected to show proficiency in leading large projects, and an ability to analyze data, risks and improvement processes.
People at the master black belt level are relied upon to mentor other professionals and exhibit an ability to comprehend and utilize the most complex Sig Sigma principles.
Six Sigma Belts
You now have a breakdown of the Six Sigma methodology, and what is required for each of the Six Sigma Belts.
If you have questions or would like to learn more, visit our site today!