Six Sigma Belts

Six Sigma is a statistical business system that, by using data, helps smooth out a companies processes and controls variances that can cause waste. The system was first used in the manufacturing industry to eliminate errors and faulty products before they were shipped out. However, the successes of Six Sigma and its versatility allowed it to be incorporated into other business sectors.

What makes the Six Sigma methodology work is that the system is broken up into several levels that all have their own function yet support one another. Six Sigma is divided up into Executives, Champions, and various Belts. The belts are actually modeled after the different levels of the martial art known as karate. In this form of martial art, every time you raise to a higher rank, you graduate to a different color. The lowest is a white belt while the highest is a black belt. In the Six Sigma system, these Belts all have their own function and job tasks. An employee must undergo certification training to reach a new belt ranking. If your company has just started using this business system but you are unsure how the different Six Sigma belts work, here is some information to help you out.

Six Sigma Black Belt

The highest level of all the belts is the Six Sigma Black Belty Certification. Black Belts are team leaders and are often in charge of company projects. Not only are they responsible for overseeing ongoing projects but they often act as coaches to other team members. There are two levels to this rank. There are Black Belts and Master Black Belts. Black Belts operate under Master Black Belts and focus on the execution and delivery of a project. Black Belts devote 100% of their time to Six Sigma projects.


The duties of a Master Black Belt mainly focuses on identifying projects for use with Six Sigma. Also, they spend much of their time overseeing and making sure that Six Sigma applications are consistent across a company’s various departments. Master Black Belts work to assist Champions and act as coaches to Black Belts and Green Belts.

Six Sigma Black Belt Certification is designed to give an employee working knowledge in these areas:

  • Identify and lead Six Sigma projects
  • Select team members for a project
  • To help increase company efficiency that is designed to exceed customer expectations
  • Act as an internal consultant
  • Act as a coach to Green Belts and project teams
  • Communicate with project sponsors to develop a stratgey
  • Full knowledge of how to implement Six Sigma tools
  • Work closely and report to management

Six Sigma Green  and Yellow Belts

Green Belts are the next ranking down from a Black Belt. They work closely under the guidance of Black Belts and use the tools of Six Sigma along with their normal job responsibilities. The main duties of Green Belts is to assist with data collection and analysis for projects led by Black Belts. Green Belt Certification gives an employee a working knowledge of Six Sigma principles and teaches a Green Belt how to lead certain projects.

Some companies use Yellow Belts. These belt rankings are similar to a Green Belt and are sometimes referred to as a green Belt in certain companies.  Yellow Belts have a basic working knowledge of Six Sigma but they do not lead projects on their own. Yellow Belts act as the core group of a team for projects. The responsibilities of Yellow Belts include the development of process maps to support Six Sigma projects as well as running smaller process improvement projects using Six Sigma methods. Their main focus is to gather data and to participate in problem-solving.

The certification process for Green and Yellow Belts are similar. The Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification involves a training process that usually takes several days. It provides an introduction to the processes and basic tools used with Six Sigma methodology. Green and Yellow Belt Certification gives employees a stronger understanding of how Six Sigma can be implemented into their duties and daily work. This allows employees to be able to provide assistance in achieving a company’s overall objectives.

Who Is Higher Than Belts

Besides the various Belt rankings, the Six Sigma system also provides higher levels of support for their employees. Other than belts, Six Sigma has Champions and Executives rankings. Six Sigma Executives and Champions are in charge of selecting projects and overseeing their direction. They ensure that all projects are conducted properly using Six Sigma methodologies and that they meet a company’s objectives and company plan.

Champions – Champions oversee all the different belt rankings and work closely with Black Belts. The responsibilities of a Champion include translating a company’s mission and goals in order to create a strategy that will meet those goals. Champions also are responsible for identifying  resources that a company can use as well as dealing with any obstacles.

Executives – Executives are the highest ranking in the Six Sigma system. This is upper management that is tasked with overseeing the company. They provide overall supervision for implementing Six Sigma into their company and provide focus of the system within the organization. Champions report directly to Executives in order to keep them informed of how well the system is progressing.

For more information, check out this article on six sigma rankings.