Motorola designed the Six Sigma program in 1986 to help businesses reduce process variations and decrease waste and repairs. Students of Six Sigma earn different colored belts as they progress in their training, similar to earning belts in martial arts programs. In order to earn a Six Sigma green belt, a person has to pass a stringent exam and have at least three years of experience. He or she works under the supervision of black belt recipients. A person with a green belt can participate in projects and perform tasks that project leaders assign, but only Six Sigma black belts can actually run the projects.
The foundation of the Six Sigma program is to use mathematic calculations to measure the variations and determine how to improve processes. Green belt holders play a significant role in the successful execution of projects. They have a thorough working knowledge of the Six Sigma metrics, as well as the Lean principles, which is another system for improving productivity. Many green belt holders train the workers on improving productivity and continuous improvement of their manufacturing practices. Often, it is the Six Sigma green belt who identifies the problems by analyzing the production processes.
The written exam for the Six Sigma green belt generally is four hours long, has 100 questions, and is an open book test. The certificate is valid for lifetime, and a person seeking a black belt does not need to earn the green belt first. Most of the theories and definitions that are on the test are covered in Six Sigma training courses. The Exam Development Committee normally uses the Six Sigma Body of Knowledge to write the test questions. Studying the latest version of the Body of Knowledge may improve a person's chances of passing the exam.
Six Sigma green belt holders use the Six Sigma methodology to define a company's weak or faulty processes, develop a plan of improvement, and then share the plan with the workers. Convincing people to participate in improvement plans is a major part of the task because people do not always accept change easily. After the plan is implemented, the Six Sigma green belt documents the progress, analyzes the risks involved, and helps the black belt to close the project. A green belt performs all of this work under the strict supervision of the black belt project leader.
Several businesses offer training for the Six Sigma program. Some offer the program through online classes. Others have campuses where trainees stay while completing the course. Many training centers offer off-campus training sessions. An applicant should research the company before paying any tuition.