This is the basic of knowledge level, for anyone who wants to have an effect on a Six Sigma project (even if just allowing others to work around them, knowing the benefits). Yellow belts have a basic grounding in Six Sigma and can have small roles in projects, but nowhere near the impact that you can have using Green or Black Belts. They are generally the people gather data, leaving the in depth analysis to the higher belts.
Before White Belts existed, Yellow Belt was the base level, for people who wanted to know about Six Sigma, but not get too involved. Many companies still have Yellow or even Green as their base level, with White Belt often ignored (treated as more for solo learners).
What role does a Six Sigma Yellow Belt play in an Organization?
Yellow Belts will have usually have a job title not connected to Six Sigma, and will spend the vast majority of their time (at least four days out of five) on their ‘day job’ rather than Six Sigma projects, occasionally taking time out to assist on Six Sigma projects.
Yellow Belts are the lowest of the three levels that actually work on the Six Sigma projects (Yellow, Green and Black Belts). This means that they will not be leading the projects, but instead act as assistants to the other members of the team. Their roles usually include:
- Interviewing affected staff in order to gain information
- Data collection for the ‘Measure’ stage
- Taking part in brainstorming exercises
Why get a Yellow Belt?
Yellow Belts are great for when you want to start getting involved in projects, but you’re not confident enough to start leading projects yet. Yellow belt will also give you some basic process improvement techniques, which you can use in the rest of your job, even if not as part of a Lean Six Sigma project.
What will you learn?
A Yellow belt course is usually around 2 days, making it a lot more in-depth than the White Belt (which is usually less than half a day).
A typical course will teach you:
- The history and aims of Six Sigma
- What the Six Sigma standard is and why it is essential to modern business
- Know how to identify, evaluate and choose Six Sigma projects
- Understand what DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) is, and know the key aims of each stage
- Understand basic process mapping methods (such as flowcharts, and the essentials of Value Stream Mapping)
- Understand and take part in basic Six Sigma tools and methodologies (usually with supervision) such as Project Charters, Gantt Charts and basic analysis tools.
- Be able to use some Six Sigma tools to improve the processes in your departments.
- Basic project management and reporting methods
- A large proportion of Six Sigma Courses are now ‘Lean Six Sigma, and so will teach you the history and basics of Lean such as a knowledge of the types of Muda and some methods of reducing waste.
Due to the short duration of the course, you will usually only learn either basic tools, or a brief overview of the more high level tools.
Is getting a Yellow Belt worth it?
Yellow belts are great if you want people in your organization to understand and be cooperative with Six Sigma, but not necessarily get involved. Six Sigma requires a buy-in from people throughout the organization, not just the people directly working on the projects, so this is a useful course to get people on board, without taking up too much of their time.
Yellow belt will also give you some basic process improvement techniques, which you can use in the rest of your job, even if not as part of a Lean Six Sigma project.
To be honest this belt probably isn’t worth it if you’re a solo learner (I’d use White Belt then go straight to Green, which looks much better on your resume), but is great to spread awareness around your company (for which white belt is probably too basic). If you need to get experience urgently, Yellow Belt will enable you to start getting involved in projects earlier than you otherwise would do, so can be worthwhile then.
If you’re doing it as part of a company, yellow belt is often your ticket to start getting involved in projects, so is worth getting it cleared.
The other value you may get from it is if you’re still not sure after White Belt if Six Sigma is for you, as Yellow Belt will enable you to get involved (although in a low level) in Six Sigma projects, getting you experience and giving you the full experience before you go for the much more difficult Green Belt or Black Belt.
How do I become a Yellow Belt?
There are no prerequisites to going on a Yellow Belt course – some students will already have White Belt, but it is usually expected that they will be going onto the course with no prior knowledge. You can therefore expect to be taught from the beginning of Six Sigma.
The courses range in price, but are usually in the range $150 – $1,500. The price level greatly depends on how the course is delivered (online and self-taught courses are towards the bottom end of the range, classroom courses are towards the higher end).
Depending on who you train with, the course is usually between one and five days (two days is most common). You usually (unlike Green and Black Belts) won’t need to be involved in Six Sigma projects before you complete your Yellow Belt.
There is usually (but not always) a certification exam at the end that you will need to pass to show that you’ve retained what you’ve learned (which will vary according to who you’re training with). Once you’ve passed you are a Six Sigma Yellow Belt; congratulations!
What do I do after Yellow Belt?
- Start assisting on Six Sigma projects, supervised by Green Belts or Black Belts
- Put ‘Six Sigma’ as one of your skills on your resume, improving your employability
- Start using Six Sigma methods to improve your work outside of Six Sigma (in your ‘day job’)
- Start working towards a Green Belt and finally Black Belt, so that you can get more involved in the planning, analyzing and eventually Leadership of Six Sigma projects