Articles & Resources > Lean Six Sigma >

Six Sigma Green Belt vs. Six Sigma Black Belt

Six Sigma Green Belt vs. Six Sigma Black Belt

A cluttered desk with glasses, binder clips, a keyboard and a piece of paper that lists out the Lean Principles in a checklist, next to two binders with "Six Sigma" and "Lean Thinking" printed on the spines.

Last Updated April 8, 2024

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology that provides proven tools and techniques to help businesses streamline operations and provide customers with higher quality products and services.

Its primary focus is on eliminating defects and variation from organizational processes. Part of what helps make that happen is the human element. Education and training is key to successful implementation of Six Sigma.

Because of the complexities of the methodology, Six Sigma offers training at distinct levels that are specified by color-coded belts. The belts range in ascending order, from White to Yellow, Green, Black and Master Black Belt. The belts offer increasingly higher knowledge and expertise in Six Sigma strategies and techniques.

Two of the most common and important levels are green and black. Though differences exist between the two, Green Belts and Black Belts often work very closely together.

What a Green Belt Does

By the time someone earns Six Sigma Green Belt status, they have in-depth knowledge of the tools and techniques involved in implementing Six Sigma. This includes an understanding of how to leverage the Six Sigma methodology DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control). DMAIC is used when optimizing an existing operation to reduce defects or variation.

To earn Villanova University’s Green Belt certification, you must meet the following requirements:

Green Belts often do much of the heavy lifting on project teams, leading the data collection and analysis efforts. They also oversee much of the testing of new strategies and analyzing the results. In some cases, a Yellow Belt will assist with the data-related work, under a Green Belt’s supervision.

Green Belts generally function on a Six Sigma project part-time and typically work closely under the supervision of a Black Belt.

What a Black Belt Does

Black Belts possess all the detailed knowledge that Green Belts have in the data-driven process improvement projects that support much of Six Sigma. In addition, they have attained an expert-level knowledge of how and when to apply Six Sigma to improve a process.

To attain Villanova’s Black Belt certification, you must meet these requirements:

  • Complete Villanova’s online Lean Black Belt coursework that offers expert-level knowledge on Six Sigma philosophy, principles and leadership, and pass unit exams
  • Successfully complete required Lean Black Belt simulated course project
  • Pass a 150-question multiple choice exam

The leadership training is significant for a Black Belt. They guide a team throughout a project, and while they pay close attention to its details, they must also maintain a team’s focus on achieving the ultimate outcome. They typically work full-time on Six Sigma projects.

Black Belts coordinate with executives and provide information on the developing results of a process improvement project. They also are often called upon to mentor other managers in Six Sigma methodologies.

Both Green Belts and Black Belts play important roles within an organization and on a project team. While there are differences between the two, both have critical duties in assuring a project’s success. Earning a Green or Black Belt certification validates your commitment to quality, and can help increase your salary, career potential and marketability in the workplace.

You may also enjoy: The Differences Between Black Belts and Master Black Belts