Of all of the business management strategies being used today, Six Sigma is one of the most popular. It has been particularly effective in areas such as manufacturing and production but is widely used by other industries. Companies are always interested in increasing productivity while cutting back on costs. To this effect, they prefer that their employees have some knowledge of Six Sigma.
Six Sigma certification and education is often a requirement at most jobs. If you are not already trained in the systems principles and methods, then you will need to be before you can be hired. If you are already working for a company that uses the system, the company often pays for further Six Sigma training. So what all is involved in Six Sigma certification and education? How do you get proper training? First you need to know what a certification in Six Sigma is and what it means.
What Is Six Sigma Certification?
Six Sigma is divided into various levels, named after the levels of expertise in karate. There are Green Belts, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, and Champions. The Green Belts, as in the martial arts, is the lowest level of trained employees. Black Belts are some of the highest, answering only to Champions. Each of these levels requires training and testing in order to receive a certification.
Like other forms of certifications, it alone does not mean that an employee is ready to take on any project or has unlimited knowledge of Six Sigma principles. Full knowledge only comes with experience and learning how to use the Six Sigma tools to accomplish company goals. A certification only means that an employee has completed the minimum training necessary to reach that level.
What Is Six Sigma Training?
To achieve a certification, individuals must go through Six Sigma training. Training involves learning the tools and subject matter of Six Sigma. Employees take a training course that can last anywhere from a week to a standard college semester, depending on where you take the training course. Most often the company you work for will pay for the training.
Each level of belts, whether its Green or Black, requires training in order to achieve that level. The required knowledge that you must learn gets more detailed the higher up you go. For instance, Green Belts learn to collect and analyze data. They learn to work in teams and to lead teams of other Green Belts. Black Belts learn to supervise projects and make sure that Six Sigma tools are properly used to complete them. So every level is different.
After completion of the training course, individuals must take a written exam. Questions are multiple choice and some tests, depending on where you take it, are open book. The test has a time limit of four hours but most candidates do not need the entire time. But after the test, you still are not done. You must take what you learned and successfully use it to complete a company project. This final project is supervised by someone from the next level (such as a Black Belt or Master Black Belt) who can act as a coach and guide you through the project. Only after the project has been completed do you get your certification.
Where Can You Get Six Sigma Certification?
Private companies, trade schools, and some universities offer Six Sigma training. There are even websites where you can take training courses online. Not only is the coursework for each level different, but the training session may also be different depending on where you take the training program.
There is no standard for Six Sigma training. This is the drawback to the system. There are no rules or regulations that dictate exactly what schools and companies must teach in their training programs. Often employees receive a certificate but do not possess the knowledge that should go with it. For this reason, it is important to check out and compare schools and companies to see exactly what they offer.
Why Is Six Sigma Training So Important?
Six Sigma has many benefits. On the company level, it can help to reduce defects and waste of resources. It can improve productivity that increases customer service while keeping costs to a minimum.
On the employee level, Six Sigma certification and education can help workers to better achieve company goals. It can help you to understand the mindset of the company that you work for and what they expect in terms of production.
Six Sigma also makes individuals more employable. It looks good on a resume and shows that you understand Six Sigma principles which most companies are interested in. It can potentially increase your salary, especially as you advance up the levels of belts. Most companies require that their employees are at least trained as Green Belts. Having a Six Sigma certification is a professional asset that can help to take you further up the corporate ladder.
What Is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is the next evolutionary step in the Six Sigma methodology. It combines principles of lean manufacturing with the Six Sigma system. It improves a business by achieving a faster rate of customer service, leading to better customer satisfaction, and speeds up productivity more efficiently than with Six Sigma alone. The bottom line is that it improves on a company’s invested capital.
Why combine lean manufacturing with Six Sigma? Because Six Sigma, for all its benefits, cannot lower a company’s invested capital and cannot improve on the speed of productivity. Lean manufacturing, by itself, cannot bring a process, such as manufacturing, under statistical control. But by combining the two, you get a much more efficient system.
With lean Six Sigma, you get the best of both concepts. Six Sigma reduces waste and defects by recognizing that variations can hinder production quality. Six Sigma also uses data for decision-making. Lean, meanwhile, focuses on maximizing the speed of production. Lean also eliminates complexity and analyzes process flow.
The concept has been embraced by many companies that rely on heavy production. To make sure the principles are applied correctly, the companies require that their employees receive additional lean Six Sigma training.