Six Sigma Green Belt Vs. Black Belt

Green Belts and Black Belts work together
Green Belts and Black Belts work together (Image: Image by, courtesy of D'Arcy Norman)

Six Sigma methodologies strive to eliminate defects in processes that lead to customer dissatisfaction. One aspect of Six Sigma that makes it unique from other quality management programs is the certification of individuals qualified to implement, lead and carry out Six Sigma initiatives. The certifications achievable are Master Black Belt, Black Belt, Green Belt, Yellow Belt and White Belt. The two primary certifications are Green Belt and Black Belt, and each differs in certification requirements, responsibility, income opportunity, cost and recognition.

Certification Pre-Requisites

Candidates need to complete Six Sigma Black Belt training and pass the exam with a minimum average of 80 percent. They are required to lead and complete two projects and submit appropriate reports and summaries. Black Belt candidates should be able to document project successes.

Green Belt candidates are usually supervised by a Black Belt while participating in quality problem projects for at least three years. They need to be able to demonstrate their understanding of Six Sigma processes and tools and pass an exam that test the Body of Knowledge.


The Black Belt is a leader, a mentor, a coach and a trainer. As professionals they are in charge of project teams and can explain principles, philosophies, systems, tools, and Define, Measure, Analyze, Interpret and Control (DMAIC).

Green Belts support the deployment of successful projects, gather data and execute experiments. They spend 25 percent to 50 percent of time on their own projects or supporting Black Belt projects.

Income Opportunity

Working in the United States, Black Belts earn more than $100,000 per year, an average of $38,000 more than non certified professionals. It is common for Black Belts to receive bonuses based on their positive impact on the company. Median Green Belt salaries range from $60,000 to $80,000, depending on the industry.

Certification and Training Cost

Black Belt certification costs around $7,500 and normally takes four weeks to complete. Some companies offer on-site training for companies. Institutions like Emory University offer Green Belt certificates. The Green Belt candidate receives 20 hours of online education and four days in the classroom, and the charge is $3,995.


Certified Six Sigma Black Belts are few in number, making them sought after and respected, but they could not do what they do without the soldier in the trenches, the Green Belt. Many companies recognize the value of having Green Belts on their staff.

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