How many Black Belts are there and how can it improve my career?

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Sometime in the not too distant past, I recall that Quality Progress magazine reported on a study that considered annualized Black Belt earnings.  For the exact information on this, you would obviously have to reference the original article.  However, my less-than-perfect memory seems to inform me that a Black Belt earns about $9K(US) to $10K(US) more per year than their counterpart. 

I seriously doubt that any one person (or organization) could provide the exact number of Six Sigma Black Belts currently practicing in the US.  I even doubt that a second order approximation could be rationally set forth.  However, as a first-order approximation (wild eyed estimate) without the benefit of some research time, I would say there is somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000 Black Belts working full-time in US organizations.  Of course, this estimate only considers those “in the main stream.”  Naturally, this figure does not include those individuals that are practicing on the fringe (part time).  Quite possibly, another 150,000 Black Belts are working full-time outside the United States.  Again, this does not include “part-timers.” By taking into account Green Belts, the world wide number might approach 1,500,000. 

At this point in time, I would forecast that only 3 to 5 percent of the global business community has a rudimentary understanding of Six Sigma.  Perhaps this is a liberal number.  In support of this, I still run across employees of General Electric, Honeywell, Ford, Motorola (and so on) that never heard of Six Sigma.  I speak to senior business executives that never heard the name “Dr. Deming.”  But then again, we are often reminded how big the world really is. 

We all have a need for estimates.  Even the Fed publishes an estimate of what the government must have to keep operating.  To this end, I am sure that we are all virtually certain there must be someone, somewhere, that also knows that Elvis is still alive and singing (in a small Costa Rica bar).

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