You now understand what role Six Sigma belts play in an organization and how much employees with belts get paid. But what else should you consider before embarking on certification?
“If you’re considering certification, you want to know that this is something you’re interested in continuing with because once you get trained and you don’t use it you kind of lose it,” advises Williams.
White, Yellow, Orange, and Green belts usually have no prerequisites. Black Belts need a Green Belt, although some aspirants with previous process enhancement experience go straight into Black Belt training. Master Black Belts require a Black Belt.
Though, thoughts go beyond certificates, statistics, and class time. Expert says that project management experience and skills are essential. “If you are unable to communicate properly or successfully, or even to influence others, you will fail,” says Williams. “It does not matter how much you can do hypothesis testing, or any of the different types of analysis – if you don’t know how to leverage those softer skills or achieve those softer skills, it will be hard to be a practitioner.”
- 75 – 80 hours of class time needed for Black Belt.
- 35 – 100 hours of class time needed for Green Belt, and may contain assignments.
- Training and curriculum are much smaller, ranging from as short as 7 hours to as long as 2 days for Yellow Belt.
- The curriculum is typically limited and can last only 7 hours for Orange Belt.
- Training takes as little as 2 hours and does not include a testing component for White Belt.
Format for Certification
Some companies offer their training customized to meet their circumstances. Companies may also pay for employees to attend training offered by outside companies. Finally, individuals may also choose to enroll in private training.
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Training is available in a variety of formats. On-demand video is one option and is sometimes combined with interactive exercises and scheduled virtual forums. Aspirants and trainers communicate through email, VOIP conferences, and remote whiteboards. Another option contains in-class training that might provide online exercises and communication.
Body of Knowledge
Definite basic principles are common to all Six Sigma training, but no single, agreed-upon body of knowledge exists. That said, many use the ASQ Body of Knowledge. The particular application can differ between training bodies, and some material is patented.
Some organizations offer separate Lean Six Sigma training. The ASQ provides coursework for Six Sigma but mentions aspirants to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for Lean certification.
Because the curriculum is not necessarily applicable in every situation, some articles assert that students should choose a program based on where they wish to work.
Tests are held fairly frequently throughout the year, but you must register in advance. Some tests are available every day on-demand. You must also take the exam within a certain period after completing the training. There is also an exam fee that you will have to pay each time you take the exam.
Exams are multiple-choice, may be taken online or in-person (note that online exams may have more questions), and are usually timed. If you complete the training online, you may still choose an in-person exam, depending on the school. Model practice examples are obtainable online and from training providers.
Also read: Principles of six sigma process
About 50 questions exams are there for white, Yellow, and Orange Belts and duration is one hour. The exams include 60-plus questions to be finished in 3 to 4 hours for Green Belt and above. While the exams are open book, notes may be limited to approved books or notes. You may also be able to use a laptop with mathematical software to make calculations. During in-class exams, you may be required to show your notes to the exam proctor.
You may pay for and take a recertification exam every few years.
Training and certification can be expensive. As expert advises, seek certification only if you know you will use the training in your current or future job. The cost alone also suggests not doing so just to add letters behind your name.
Training costs for Yellow, White, and Orange Belts are generally well under $500. For Green Belts and above, costs increase dramatically. A Green Belt ranges from around $1,500 for about 35 hours of online training to $3,000 for eight days of in-class training. In-class Black Belt training may cost as much as $8,000, and suppose to cost over $10,000 for a Master Black Belt.