Which Six Sigma Certification Is Right for You?

Six Sigma certification is based on a belt system. Like martial arts, Six Sigma offers different certifications at various levels. Each certification is matched to an employee's education, skill set, and time commitment to project work. Below we will discuss Six Sigma Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt certifications from the ground up. Six Sigma Green Belt – This is for part-time Six Sigma practitioners. Green Belts typically spend about 25 percent of their time contributing to Six Sigma projects, with the remainder working in other areas. Green Belts are highly valued for the functional knowledge they bring to project teams. Not only are they experts in Six Sigma, but they are also experts in the processes they improve. Green Belts support their project teams in collecting and analyzing data and play a critical role in identifying and implementing improvements. In addition to classroom teaching, Green Belts have acquired the following practical skills and real-world experience.

  • Have basic knowledge of statistical analysis
  • Participation in quality improvement projects
  • Collaborate with other project team members
  • Analyze and solve quality problems
  • Understand and use Six Sigma tools

Six Sigma Black Belts Black Belts lead project teams and act as mentors to individual team members. Six Sigma is their main focus and they practice it full-time. Qualifications for the black belt role include three years of relevant work experience and the completion of two Six Sigma projects. A successful black belt can do the following:

Apply leadership and management skills. Black Belts use time management, decision-making, and planning tools to keep their team on schedule. They also use team building, performance appraisal, and reward and incentive programs to motivate and encourage team members.

Anticipate resistance and implement change management techniques to overcome them and ensure Six Sigma improvement is put into practice. Learn how Six Sigma and related philosophies such as Lean, Continuous Process Improvement, and TQM complement and work together to improve financial performance. 

Consider Six Sigma projects and deliverables in terms of their impact on customers. Use benchmarks and understand how to apply business performance metrics.

Six Sigma Master Black Belt (MBB) – A Master Black Belt is the highest Six Sigma belt. They act as a liaison to management. MBBs are technical experts and Six Sigma experts who coach, train, and mentor project teams and executives the Six Sigma way. Master Black Belts must complete 10 Six Sigma projects or have five years of Black Belt experience to be eligible for certification.

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