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To thrive even in times of economic tumult and supply chain disruptions, organizations need to be built from the top down with efficiency and quality in mind. Common problems such as shipping delays or manufacturing faults ultimately harm relationships with consumers or clients and can put an entire enterprise in jeopardy. However, leaders who develop insights into essential processes and strategically deploy plans for improvement make all the difference in a business’s success. Lean Six Sigma is a powerful means for these leaders to harness team collaboration to eliminate waste and promote consistent results.

If you already have Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training or plan to complete a course soon, you may be looking into taking your education a step further by earning your Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, you can be a more effective leader, improving the workplace by applying risk reduction principles and eliminating errors and defects in organizational processes. 

Green Belts vs Black Belts

Lean Six Sigma combines the Lean management approach to waste control, quality control and team leadership with Six Sigma methods focused on lessening defects through statistical analysis and scientific reasoning. The Green Belt certificate signifies the mastery of basic LSS principles, including tools, techniques and methodologies to streamline production and services. This certificate is often a requirement to gain a Black Belt.

  • Green Belts focus on local projects, with the collaboration of a Black Belt in collecting and analyzing data. They introduce steps for improvement based on the obstacles in their current processes.
  • Certified Black Belts are experts in transforming their organization into a more efficient and Lean operation. These are team leaders who often work cross-functionally. Their efforts directly impact customer satisfaction, financial gain and productivity growth; they’re responsible for evaluating, investigating, refining and directing processes within their organization.

From an outsider’s perspective, the knowledge of Green Belts and Black Belts can seem relatively similar. However, the Black Belts are often the individuals leading team meetings and deciding courses of action when there’s a defect. Green Belts take on roles analyzing weaknesses, leading data collection and considering team dynamics. 

Green Belts are primarily involved with quality improvement projects and brainstorming sessions within the company. Whereas Black Belts tend to run improvement projects, Green Belts can support Black Belts.

A Lean Six Sigma certificate can generally take up to 16 weeks to complete. According to salary data reported by PayScale, Black Belts can earn an average of $16,000 more per year than their Green Belt counterparts, with an annual average salary of $96,000.

Read More: Learn about LSS certificates.

4 Reasons to Become a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

  1. You can gain a deeper understanding of the tools and concepts relevant to your field.

When process issues arise in their organizations, LSS Black Belt professionals are the experts in assessing and analyzing current strategies and implementing improvements to reduce waste, increase efficiency and improve productivity. Fundamentally, the goal of the LSS method is to eliminate waste in production by implementing the following tools within a company’s processes. 

  • DMAIC: Standing for define, measure, analyze, improve and control, DMAIC is a five-step Six Sigma process that improves quality and process efficiencies. 
  • 5S: A Lean methodology designed to establish a quality work environment, both physically and mentally, in which the workplace is clean, safe and organized.
  • Seven wastes: Another Lean methodology, this tool focuses on preventing overproduction and taking the necessary steps to create a product with minimal waste.
  • Value stream mapping (VSM): A visual tool for working out the flow of a process, VSM allows the professional to draw out production paths and map how a more efficient process should flow.
  • Visual workplace: A visual report of current operational data to ensure that human and machine performances are secure, precise, dependable and repeatable. 

These LSS tools achieve results in multiple industries, including automotive and manufacturing, as well as electronics, healthcare and transportation. A case study from researchers at the Cardiff School of Management and the University of Alexandria School of Engineering found that the ways these tools and resources are implemented differs significantly per industry, but can be successful when implemented correctly and with the right leadership. 

For example, an aerospace engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility struggled with its operational build cycle due to deficient internal processes, failing to meet deadlines. After conducting internal workshops and meetings to identify the issues involved, the organization improved its processes through training and technical updates, rearranging maintenance teams and ensuring new staff was properly supervised. The presence of a Black Belt is essential to keep projects on track in circumstances like these.

Some Black Belt training programs offer tracks for learners to apply LSS tools in their field. With the knowledge gained in this course, professionals can implement the right concepts to address a variety of challenges. 

  1. You can lead an organization’s Lean and quality improvement initiatives

The Black Belt marks a professional’s capability to implement improvement processes in the workplace. Black Belts know the “nuts and bolts” of their organization, recognize and analyze obstacles and ask the right questions. Often known as casual thinkers, they constantly ponder cause-and-effect relationships. Whether it is an issue with low-quality products, late deliveries or medical errors, Black Belts perceive what is faulty with the current approaches utilized in their organization. 

By implementing the DMAIC process, Black Belts can improve existing processes, reducing and eliminating barriers and providing efficient solutions. From their participation in a certificate program, professionals will be able to recognize the flaws in an organization’s quality improvement initiatives with the application of the DMAIC process. 

  1. You can distinguish yourself when seeking a promotion or new role.

The five levels of Lean Six Sigma training show how much time and effort working professionals have invested in mastering the quality and improvement skills of the LSS methodologies. Employers know that Black Belts have successfully applied this knowledge of LSS within their field and spurred the organizational change to achieve the highest-level belt. This certificate offers learners distinction through hands-on experiences like:

  • Completing numerous improvement projects within their functional areas
  • Working as in their previous LSS position for about three years
  • Helping Champions (the upper-level managers who lead LSS deployment) with select projects
  • Leading, preparing and mentoring several Green Belts

Black Belts understand customer needs and are passionate about their work, marking them as capable leaders with strong communication and project management skills. Hiring managers will know to look for Black Belts in their process due to technical aptitudes and knack for being team players and leaders who always work with successful results in mind. A report from Lightcast showed that between October 2021 and October 2022, U.S. employers posted 10,415 unique job listings seeking individuals with LSS training.

  1. You will complete and learn from a project that applies to real-world situations.

Black Belt certificate programs often feature required projects that allow learners to apply the DMAIC process in real time to address an issue relevant to their company. This experience can kickstart a portfolio to demonstrate a learner’s strengths and success with implementing LSS into their organization. 

A Black Belt course equips learners to select one of four types of projects from a matrix: external customers, internal customers, Six Sigma propagation and the corporation’s bottom line. Learners who collaborate with an employer or nonprofit execute an appropriate project using the tools and concepts they’ve learned. The online instructors at Purdue University work closely with each learner to select an appropriate and suitable project providing advice and instruction to help overcome obstacles along the way. 

The Benefits of Earning Your LSS Black Belt Certificate

Working professionals complete a Black Belt training program by demonstrating advanced knowledge and skills in LSS tools. They are able to implement changes in an organization through DMAIC and complete high-impact projects that result in concrete benefits within their organization.

Learn more about LSS certificate series from Purdue University:
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A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certificate means professionals have the tactics and knowledge to gain leadership roles and achieve more for their organization, along with a personal sense of accomplishment. These learners can master the tools and concepts relevant to their field, lead their institution’s Lean and quality improvement initiatives, distinguish themselves when applying for new jobs or roles, and execute lessons from their projects in real-world situations. 

About Purdue University’s Online Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Certificate Program

Purdue University offers comprehensive online Lean Six Sigma (LSS) certificate programs designed for working professionals with varying levels of Lean Six Sigma experience. The online Lean Six Sigma certificate courses prepare professionals to satisfy the immense demand for Lean expertise, skills and certification.

Purdue offers the following courses 100% online:

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