The Six Sigma methodology can be used in any industry. In fact, Ford Motor Company, Cisco Systems, and other global organizations have benefited from a quality improvement project executed by Six Sigma professionals.
In the quality assurance field, Six Sigma certification follows one’s career path from a junior-level specialist to a senior-level manager. So, you would start as a Six Sigma Yellow Belt early in your career, then move up to Green Belt, and eventually become a Black Belt.
If you’re a quality assurance professional ready to earn your first belt, here’s an overview of the Six Sigma certifications.
What do the colors mean?
The Six Sigma belt colors are designed to make roles within the Six Sigma team easily identifiable.
Certified Six Sigma professionals can be found at all levels of an organization. You may notice that Six Sigma belts sound like a martial arts practice. This is for good reason: Six Sigma founders Bill Smith and Mikel Harry, engineers at the Motorola Inc., along with company CEO Bob Galvin, realized that belt titles were a great way to signify how much someone knew about the Six Sigma methodology.
So, each belt requires a highly specialized skill set and increasing level of responsibility.
Even if you’re starting out with a Yellow Belt course, just knowing Six Sigma methodology will take your career along way. In fact, the Six Sigma methodology is one of this year’s most in-demand workplace skill sets.
Understanding the role of each Six Sigma belt color
The Six Sigma Yellow Belt signifies that you possess a basic understanding of Six Sigma methodology.
However, you are not yet ready to lead a Six Sigma project. Yellow Belts support the Six Sigma team by creating process maps and carrying out smaller projects with direction from Green Belt team members.
Why are Yellow Belts important?
Yellow Belts play a key role executing the tactical aspects of a process improvement project.
Who should become a Yellow Belt?
An ideal Yellow Belt candidate is serious about making quality improvements within their company. Earning this certification is an initial step to making an impact at your organization without managing teams or projects. While this role is less strategic than Green or Black Belts, it’s a great place to start understanding process improvement.
Earning a Six Sigma Green Belt demonstrates a solid understanding and practice of the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) process.
Why is are Green Belts important?
Green Belts are a great intermediary between role players and project leadership. Green Belts analyze and identify process gaps and lead a smaller team of Yellow Belts. However, Green Belts typically work under the guidance of a Six Sigma Black belt.
Who should become a Green Belt?
Green Belt certification is ideal for Yellow Belts who want to take on more leadership within a project. Although it is important to master the fundamentals of Six Sigma methodology before pursuing this more advanced belt.
A Six Sigma Black Belt professional is an expert in these Six Sigma principles:
- Design of experiments
- Analysis of variance
- Hypothesis testing
- Probability distribution
Furthermore, Black Belts use support tools such as Voice of the Customer (VOC), Lean, failure mode and effects analysis, and statistics. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, you will be responsible for initiating projects and directing the efforts of company quality improvement teams.
Why are Black Belts important?
Black Belts are a change agent in the organization. A Black Belt will be the project owner of an organizational quality improvement process. As project owner, they allocate team member responsibilities and resources, effectively overseeing a team of Green and Yellow Belts. In addition, they must effectively reduce non-value-add activities and navigate stakeholder management.
Who should become a Black Belt?
Veteran QA professionals with Yellow and Green Belt certification make great Black Belt candidates. These professionals typically hold managerial titles, and have successfully led some aspect of a larger quality improvement project. Six Sigma Black Belt is an advanced role, but a great goal to strive toward in a QA career.
No matter where you are in your career today, earning a Six Sigma certification is an important career step.
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