Six Sigma Belts

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Training to become a Six Sigma Belt can be one of the most rewarding undertakings of your career and one of the most difficult. Here's an overview of what it's all about...

Six Sigma is a system of improvement. It develops people skills and capability for the participants. It consists of proven set of analytical tools, project-management techniques, reporting methods and management methods combined to form a powerful problem-solving and business-improvement methodology.  

Six Sigma belts are used solve problems, resulting in increased revenue and profit, and business growth. As a business goal, Six Sigma can achieve 40% or more improvement in the profitability of a company. It is a philosophy that every process can be improved, at breakthrough levels. 

voice of the customer

The strategy of Six Sigma is a data-driven, structured approach to managing processes, quantifying problems, and removing waste by reducing variation and eliminating defects.  

The tactics of Six Sigma are the use of process exploration and analysis tools to solve the equation of Y = f(X) and to translate this into a controllable practical solution. 

What Are Six Sigma Belts

Just like a winning sports team, various Six Sigma belts have specific roles and defined responsibilities. Each person is trained to be able to understand and perform the responsibilities of their role. The division of training and skill is delivered across the organization in such a way as to provide specialists: the same way you find in the medical field between a Doctor, 1st year Intern, Nurse, etc. The end result is a knowledgeable and well coordinated winning business team. 

Six Sigma Belts Follow The Karate Metaphor. In karate, as one aquires more knowledge and skill this is recognized by awarding a higher level colored belt.

With Six Sigma the generally accepted practice is that there are Yellow Green, Black and Master Black belts. 

Six Sigma Belt Levels

six sigma belts

Six Sigma Belts

In addition to these roles all other employees are expected to understand Six Sigma quality improvement and to provide assistance and support for the goals of Six Sigma in the company. 

Six Sigma is designed to provide a structure with various skill levels and knowledge for all members of an organization. When everyone actively applyies the Six Sigma principles, the company operates and performs at a higher level.This leads to increased profitability, and greater employee and customer satisfaction.

Executive Leadership owns the vision for the business, they provide sponsorship and set expectations for the results from Six Sigma. They enable the organization to apply Six Sigma then monitor the progress against expectations.

  • They makes the decision to implement the Six Sigma 
  • They initiative and develop accountability methods
  • They set meaningful Six Sigma goals and objectives for the business
  • They attend report outs to ensures continuous improvement in the business is happening
  • They eliminate barriers

Executive leadership is not a belt role although they are highly trained.

Champions are responsible for functional business activities and to provide business deliverables to either internal or external customers. They are in a position to be able to recognize problem areas of the business, define improvement projects, assign projects to appropriate individuals, review projects and support their completion.

They are also responsible for a business roadmap and employee training plan to achieve the goals and objectives of Six Sigma within their area of accountability.

  • They own project selection, execution control, implementation and realization of gains
  • They obtain needed project resources and eliminates roadblocks
  • They participate in all project reviews

Champion is not a belt role although they are highly trained.

A Master Black Belt is a technical expert, a “go to” person for the Six Sigma methodology. Master Black Belts mentor Black Belts and Green Belts through their projects and support Champions. In addition to applying Six Sigma, Master Black Belts are capable of teaching others in the practices and tools. 

Being a Master Black Belt is a full time position. You do typically need to become a certified Black Belt before becoming a Master Black Belt.

  • A MBB provides advice and counsel to Executive Staff
  • A MBB provides training and support
  • A MBB provides in class training and on-site project mentoring and support
  • A MBB facilitates cultural change


A Black Belt is a project team leader, working full-time to solve problems under the direction of a Master Black Belt or Champion. Black Belts work on projects that are relatively complex and require significant focus to resolve.

Most Black Belts conduct an average of 4 to 6 projects a year -- projects that usually have a high financial return for the company.

Black Belts are application experts and work projects within the business. They are well versed with Six Sigma technologies and have the ability to drive results.

There are no prerequisite belt requirements to become a Black Belt. In other words, you don't need to become a Green Belt first.

Green Belts are capable of solving problems within their local span of control. Green Belts remain in their current positions, and work on Six Sigma projects part-time. Green Belts usually address less complex problems than Black Belts and perform at least two projects per year. They may also be a part of a Black Belt’s team, helping to complete Black Belt projects.

Green Belts are practitioners of the Six Sigma Methodology and typically work within their functional areas and support Black Belt Projects.

Yellow Belts participate in quality improvement and management activities. They fully understand the principles of Six Sigma and are capable of characterizing processes, solving problems associated with their work responsibilities and implementing and maintaining the gains from improvements. They apply Six Sigma concepts to their work assignments. They also participate projects when needed.

In summary, Green and Yellow Belts work on Six Sigma projects part-time as part of their regular job.  Black Belts are the project managers and work only on Six Sigma projects.

A Master Black Belt is the highest level of Six Sigma - they mentor and train others, review and consult on projects, and are involved in strategic level work. Black Belts and Master Black Belts are capable of executing project-after-project in differing functions and industries and do deep level training in change management and technical skills.

From Six Sigma Belts to Six Sigma Certification

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