Six Sigma certification is the endorsement issued to either individuals within a corporation that have been trained in Six Sigma or to the corporation itself that is using the methodology. The quality improvement program developed by Motorola in the 1980s and is used by many corporations, and certification is granted upon completion of a training program offered by several schools. For individuals, Six Sigma certification borrows rankings from the martial arts: champion, master black belt, black belt and green belt.
Green belts are the workers who are trained in the mechanics of and perform most of the hands on work. They must demonstrate the ability to understand the value of and processes involved in Six Sigma certification. Green belts will work under a black belt but may not be assigned full time to the project.
Black belts are trained to be able to explain the philosophy and principles of Six Sigma and are called upon to lead specific projects on a full time basis. In addition to the knowledge that green belts possess, black belts are required to master the applications of the system to create and modify projects. They are usually assigned to spend 75% or more of their work schedule on the project to which they are assigned.
Master black belts are individuals with the additional experience and training to oversee multiple projects or to serve as a coach for black belts. This Six Sigma certification is more involved with statistical analysis and the development of the procedural elements of a project. Master black belts may oversee several projects and the black belts assigned to them.
Champions are usually designated by the corporation that is employing the Six Sigma program and are responsible for the oversight of all the projects involved. They are usually master black belts that are chosen by management based on experience and education. While champion Six Sigma certification is offered by any number of entities, there are, as yet, no formal criteria for that certification.
Six Sigma was extremely popular as a concept in the 1990s with the success of Motorola, Honeywell and General Electric in using the process to add billions to their bottom lines. It does not lend itself too easily to formal implementation within small- and medium-sized businesses as the higher ranking belts and champions are completely dedicated to their function within the program. Therefore, positions that require Six Sigma certification are generally found in larger corporations or organizations.