Candidates for black belt status are technically oriented individuals held in high regard by their peers. They should be actively involved in the process of organizational change and development. Candidates may come from a wide range of disciplines and need not be formally trained statisticians or engineers. However, because they are expected to master a wide variety of technical tools in a relatively short period of time, black belt candidates will probably possess a background including college-level mathematics and the basic tools of quantitative analysis. Coursework in statistical methods may be considered a strong plus or even a prerequisite. As part of their training, black belts receive 160 hours of classroom instruction, plus one-on-one project coaching from master black belts or consultants.
Successful candidates will be comfortable with computers. At a minimum, they should understand one or more operating systems, spreadsheets, database managers, presentation programs and word processors. As part of their training, they will be required to become proficient in the use of one or more advanced statistical analysis software packages. Six sigma black belts work to extract actionable knowledge from an organization’s information warehouse. To ensure access to the needed information, six sigma activities should be closely integrated with the information systems (IS) of the organization. Obviously, the skills and training of six sigma black belts must be enabled by an investment in software and hardware. It makes no sense to hamstring these experts by saving a few dollars on computers or software.