Last Updated on 11 September 2023
Green Belts are part time Six Sigma professionals, who are skilled in Six Sigma, but usually work in the Six Sigma teams, rather than run the projects (a role usually reserved for Black Belts, although Green Belts can run projects with Black Belt supervision). It can be a stepping stone on the way to being a Black Belt, or a role for people who want to be involved in projects, so that they can bring their new expertise back to their main role, and help spread process improvement knowledge throughout the business.
Green Belts have usually had at very least a week’s training, and so have fairly thorough Six Sigma skills, although still falling far short of the Black Belts. They can however help run the projects and keep them on track, and do specific high level tasks for the Black Belts. Green Belts generally spend about a week (full time) training to be a Green Belt, and may take part in projects during that time.
What role does a Six Sigma Green Belt play in an organization?
Generally speaking Green Belts will have roles in the company that have nothing to do with Six Sigma, which will take up most of their time. They’re Six Sigma part timers, who have a lot of the skills, and will usually spend on average about one day a week working on projects under the supervision of Black Belts.
They will usually be working towards being a Black Belt, and as they get more experienced (and often, as they are training for the Black Belt exams), they will start running smaller Six Sigma projects, mentored by the existing Black Belts.
You will also likely be responsible for supervising and training the Yellow Belts, making sure they meet their deadlines and helping them become Green Belts.
You will have responsibility for:
- Having a thorough knowledge of Six Sigma
- Helping others in your organization to improve their Six Sigma skills
- Discover and recommend potential Six Sigma projects
- Lead small Six Sigma projects
- Work on larger Six Sigma projects under the direction of a Black Belt
- Completing regular Six Sigma projects to maintain your knowledge (Green Belts only spend a relatively small proportion of their time on projects compared to Black Belts, so it’s important that it remains a priority and skills are kept current)
What will you learn?
Before you can become a Green Belt you’ll need to go through a training course and pass exams, to test your Six Sigma knowledge. To be a Green Belt you’ll need to gain a good understanding of the DMAIC framework and a lot of the tools involved:
This will usually involve knowledge of:
- Identifying issues that need improving
- Doing cost/benefit analysis and prioritization to choose the project to be worked on
- Defining the issue
- Choosing the deliverables of the project and getting them agreed with sponsors
- Choosing your team
- Creating a Project Charter
- Stakeholder Mapping
- Mapping the current process
- Basic Statistics
- Root Cause Analysis
- Data Collection methods
- Value Stream Mapping
- Creating possible solutions
- Process Improvement tools
- Minimizing variation in processes
- Creating an implementation Plan
- Deploying your solutions
- Protecting the gains
You will also need to show the following skills:
- Analyzing data to come to logical conclusions
- Using the analysis to formulate improvements that can be utilized by the organization
- Using Six Sigma methodologies to achieve material measurable improvements to your organization’s operations
- You will often have to have completed at least one real project
- Working within required time, budget and operational needs, overcoming obstacles and resistance where required
- Leadership skills to supervise and mentor junior members of the team.
That’s just a core though – a Green Belt will usually require knowledge of most areas of Six Sigma. Many Green Belt courses now include a knowledge of Lean principles and tools.
Is it worth it?
Green Belt is the first big step towards Black Belt, and will add greatly to your skill set and employability. It will cost much more than White Belt or Yellow Belt, but in my opinion the time and money invested will be more than repaid.
A large number of organizations require Six Sigma knowledge, and so they will see employing you as a ‘safe bet’ compared to having to train someone up. You will be able to show that you can ‘hit the ground running’, making you much more employable.
Even if you don’t work for a Six Sigma organization, I’ve worked for many companies not interested in Six Sigma, where employing Six Sigma techniques and process improvement methods I’ve achieved praise from management, pay rises and promotions from the results that has achieved.
The benefits of a Six Sigma Belt to you are:
- You can use the tools to achieve efficiency and cost savings in your own department, making your life easier and improving your reputation
- It will make a great addition to your resume, making you much more employable and command higher salaries
- You will get much more interesting roles on Six Sigma projects compared to a Yellow Belt
How do I become a Green Belt?
The easiest way is to see if your workplace runs a scheme, as it would be cheapest if they can put a large number of people through the course at the same time. If you’re self-training, online is probably the best value for money. You sometimes get a discount if you sign up for Black Belt at the same time.
Although this is the third Six Sigma belt, a large number of Green Belt courses will train you starting from the basics, so you won’t usually need to have completed either White Belt or Yellow Belt before tackling Green Belt.
Depending on who you train with, the training usually lasts between five days and five weeks. It will usually involve several examinations, and you may need to prove that you have worked on Lean Six Sigma projects.
After the course (and usually revision), you will need to complete several exams to prove your knowledge. After successfully completing these, you will get certificated a Six Sigma Green Belt.
What do I do after Green Belt?
Once you’ve achieved Green Belt, you can:
- Take a much more active role on projects, performing planning, analysis and improvement rather than the primarily data collection of Yellow Belts
- Start to lead smaller projects
- Start working towards being a Black Belt, where you can lead projects and pursue Six Sigma full time
- Put ‘Green Six Sigma’ on your resume, greatly improving your employability