Six Sigma is split up into different levels of attainment, using different color belts, which relate to the level of expertise that you’ve reached, using a similar system to martial arts.
The belts are:
- White Belt – a very basic level of knowledge primarily for members of the organization not involved in Six Sigma. This is not normally a level for people who want to get involved, but more to see if it’s something you might be interested in.
- Yellow Belt – the ‘ground level’ of knowledge to enable you assist on Six Sigma projects. This is the level that a Six Sigma organisation might train all non-project staff in, so that they can assist in, or at least understand the projects.
- Green Belt – a Six Sigma professional who can have an in depth role and occasionally lead on Six Sigma projects
- Black Belt – a knowledgeable Six Sigma professional who can lead Six Sigma projects and usually works on Six Sigma (or at least quality control) full time
- Master Black Belt – an expert in Six Sigma methodologies, who can lead projects and advise Black Belts when they run into issues
In my experience, often in small organizations you often just have Black Belts, and in large organizations you have Black Belts and Green Belts, but all levels are used (often Master Black Belts are used, but without the Master Black Belt title). Personally I got heavily involved in Six Sigma with no belt at all, and only after several years went to White Belt to Green Belt (missing out Yellow Belt), and am now training for my Black Belt.
WHICH SIX SIGMA BELT IS RIGHT FOR ME?
The belts build on each other, so you can work your way up the stages without having to choose now where you’re going to end up. Which belt you want though depends on your attitude / what you want to get out of it. The stages are:
I’m not sure if Lean Six Sigma is right for me – White Belt
I’ve seen other people doing Lean Six Sigma projects and find it interesting, and want to be useful if a project affects my area – Yellow Belt
The Lean Six Sigma projects in my organization look interesting and worthwhile, and I want to learn some useful tools and get involved on a few projects – Green Belt
I think Lean Six Sigma is great and I want to learn all the tools, help drive the company to embrace it more and lead projects – Black Belt
I think the other Black Belts would benefit from my experience and want to help run the Lean Six Sigma organization – Master Black Belt