Six Sigma Certification Belts – Is it Worth It?

six-sigmaAs more and more companies move toward six sigma standards, millions of individuals are evaluating whether or not they should attain their certification belts.  Companies are also looking at whether or not it is worth it to send their employees through the training necessary to earn any of the various belts.  This isn’t an easy question to answer, because you need to measure the costs (both in time and money) against the benefits that you’ll receive.

What are the Certification Belts?

Before you can decide whether or not it is worth it to pursue the Six Sigma certification belts, it is important to understand what they are.  This will not only help you to see if it is worth it, but also to determine which level of belt you should be going for.  The certification belts are:

  • Six-Sigma-Certification-1004x954-300x285Yellow Belt – This is the lowest level of belt, and it is actually not used by all companies.  Individuals with a yellow belt should have a rudimentary understanding of the six sigma system, but don’t need to be an expert.  There is also only minimal experience required to attain this level.
  • Green Belt – The green belt holder should be very knowledgeable about the entire six sigma system, and how it works.  To earn this belt, one must have three years of experience using six sigma tools, as well as have a detailed understanding of the Six Sigma system.  Holders of this belt will most often work under the supervision of an individual with a black belt.
  • Black Belt – In addition to all the requirements for a green belt, the black belt holder must possess strong leadership skills.  The bulk of the black belt’s job will be supervising and mentoring green and yellow belt holders.  They will also be teaching others the Six Sigma system.
  • Master Black Belt – This is the highest certification belt in the Six Sigma system.  Those who attain this level are recognized as experts in their field.  They may be involved in reviewing and updating Six Sigma teaching materials, and will spend a lot of time teaching lower level individuals about the Six Sigma system.

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Understanding Your Needs

Figuring out whether or not these belts would be beneficial to you is important.  In many cases, employees and employers can work together to understand what an individual’s goals should be.  Depending on your role in a company, or where you feel your career should be going, it is very likely that getting at least the yellow belt will be very beneficial.

Companies that have adopted the Six Sigma systems will often want most of their employees to have at least the yellow belt.  Even if they aren’t directly involved in many Six Sigma projects, the knowledge and understanding that they will have from earning the Yellow Belt will help individuals understand how things are being done.

In addition, this level of certification can help encourage a culture that embraces the Six Sigma mindset.  This can result in people identifying problems, and presenting solutions to benefit the company.  Given the fact that the yellow belt can be earned without too significant of an expense, it is often a good idea to seek this belt.

How High to Go

how-high-to-go-six-sigmaOnce you’ve decided to get your yellow belt, it will be necessary to figure out how high up the certification chain you would like to go.  The green belt requires significantly more time and effort to complete.  Unlike many types of certifications, it is not simply a matter of studying for a test.  You typically need a lot of experience working on Six Sigma projects, as well as classroom or book experience.  While difficult, however, earning the green belt is a very valuable accomplishment.

The black and master black belts are long term goals that can be very helpful to companies and individuals.  Once you’ve gotten the green belt, moving toward the black belt can be done over the course of years.  As you gain experience running projects, and work with existing black belts, you will often learn whether or not this level of certification is right for you.  In most cases, you’ll be mentored by a black belt, who can help you make this decision.

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Antonio Ferraro

On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+