The Typical Six Sigma Belt Progression

education lean six sigma methodologies people development six sigma Dec 27, 2023
The Typical Six Sigma Belt Progression


Belt Progression:

  • Introduction & Purpose
    • Addressing the common inquiry about earnings across Six Sigma belts.
    • Objective: To dissect and elucidate income possibilities at different belt levels.
  • Belt Hierarchy
    • Overview of progression: White Belt to Master Black Belt.
    • Describes a narrowing pool of practitioners as belts advance, highlighting expertise growth.

Expectations at Each Level:

  • Knowledge and Experience
    • White Belt: Basic awareness, usually 0-1 years of experience.
    • Yellow Belt: Trained in lean methodologies, 1-2 years of experience, able to participate in teams.
    • Green Belt: Practitioner of DMAIC and Lean, with 2-3 years of experience.
    • Black Belt: Seasoned, 3-5 years of experience, adept at statistics and coaching multiple Green Belts.
    • Master Black Belt: 5+ years of experience, coaching Black Belts, and influencing organizational strategies.

Belt Levels in Six Sigma:

1. White Belt

  • Introduction level offering a basic understanding of Six Sigma principles.
  • No practical tools or applications involved, focuses on high-level concepts.

2. Yellow Belt

  • Entry-level certification involving basic understanding and application of Six Sigma methodologies.
  • Supports projects and teams led by higher-level belts.

3. Green Belt

  • Intermediate level involving deeper knowledge and active involvement in Six Sigma projects.
  • Lead or assist on smaller projects under the guidance of Black Belts.

4. Black Belt

  • Advanced level with comprehensive mastery of Six Sigma tools and techniques.
  • Leads major projects, mentors Green Belts, and drives significant process improvements.

5. Master Black Belt

  • Expert level with extensive experience and proficiency in Six Sigma methodologies.
  • Mentors and trains Black Belts, provides strategic guidance to organizations.

6. Champion and Sponsor

    • Champion: High-level executive advocating for and supporting Six Sigma initiatives within an organization.
    • Sponsor: Senior leader providing resources and direction to Six Sigma projects, ensuring alignment with organizational goals.

These belt levels represent a hierarchical progression, each requiring varying degrees of expertise, responsibility, and leadership in implementing Six Sigma methodologies within an organization.


Here's another view at it, from someone who has more experience in Lean, Chad Burroughs from Learn Kaizen.  In this video, he aims to clarify the distinctions between Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.  He gives his perspective based on his personal experience of over 20 years in the industry, coaching, mentoring, and being trained.

Yellow Belt:

  • Yellow Belts start their Lean journey, focusing on basic lean principles with minimal Six Sigma knowledge.
  • They learn to identify and improve inefficiencies in their work areas, typically with zero to one year of experience.

Green Belt:

  • Green Belts, with 1-3 years of experience, spend about 30-40% of their time applying Lean Six Sigma tools.
  • They support Black Belts in projects, learn leadership skills, and may transition to Black Belts.

Black Belt:

  • Black Belts manage projects full-time, usually for over three years, and coach others.
  • They specialize in certain areas of Lean Six Sigma and may train other practitioners.

Master Black Belt:

  • Master Black Belts are high-level leaders working closely with top management to develop strategies and assess financial impacts.
  • They have extensive experience and expertise in Lean Six Sigma, coaching, and leading projects.

Certification and Skill Development:

  • Chad reveals that one can jump from Yellow to Black Belt without going through each level, focusing on skill value over certification.
  • He advises focusing on delivering value to the company and learning what companies value most.

Chad's advice:

  • He encourages viewers to prioritize skill development and value delivery over certification. 


In a separate video, Chad reveals the typical income ranges by belt level in the United States.


How Much Money Six Sigma Belts Earn (at Each BELT Level) 

Income Ranges:

  • Provided Salary Ranges
    • White Belt: $45,000 to $60,000.
    • Yellow Belt: $50,000 to $70,000.
    • Green Belt: $70,000 to $100,000.
    • Black Belt: $100,000 to $138,000.
    • Master Black Belt: $138,000 to $197,000 (plus potential bonuses).
  • Variables Impacting Income
    • Industry influence on earnings (e.g., aerospace vs. less technical fields).
    • Job title transitions affecting income trajectories.
    • Education level's role in shaping salary ranges.

Personal Insight & Agreement:

  • Speaker's Insight
    • Personal experience: Skipped White Belt, entered at Green Belt level.
    • Acknowledges $50,000-$70,000 range for Yellow Belts based on training experience.
    • Discrepancy in six-figure earnings for Green Belts, likely related to career advancements.
  • Credibility of Higher Ranges
    • Believes $100,000-$138,000 range for Black Belts aligns with dedication and project outcomes.
    • Affirms $138,000-$197,000 range for Master Black Belts due to teaching and influencing roles.

This expanded breakdown encompasses the hierarchical progression, expected knowledge, income ranges, and the speaker's personal insights regarding Six Sigma belt earnings.




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