An advanced degree is one way to level up your aerospace engineer salary, but if you're not ready to go back to school, then consider obtaining your Six Sigma certification. The training can enhance your resume and put you in a position for a high-paying job at JPL, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX or other top aerospace company. If you’re not super familiar with Six Sigma or how to get certified, then keep scrolling, we’re about to tell you everything you need to know.
While there’s no universally accepted definition, generally speaking, Six Sigma is a data-driven approach to improving the capability of an organization’s business operations. Its techniques are used to detect process problems and design effective solutions. A Six Sigma process tolerates just 3.4 defects per million steps – that's 99.99966% flawlessness. When successfully applied, Six Sigma reduces waste while increasing efficiency and performance, resulting in greater profits, better quality of products or services, and higher company morale.
In 1986, Motorola engineer Bill Smith, with the help of psychologist Mikel Harry, first introduced the Six Sigma Initiative. Smith was inspired by statistical and quality control methods taught by influential thought leaders. By 2001, Motorola had saved a cumulative $16 billion by applying the efficiency-improving techniques. In 1995, legendary CEO Jack Welch instituted the initiative at GE, and by 2000, the company was saving $2 billion annually. American aerospace, automotive and engineering company Allied embraced Six Sigma in 1998 and saved $500 million. These days, household names including Amazon, BAE Systems, Boeing, Ford, General Electric,Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon are all reported to have adopted Six Sigma into their operations.
Six Sigma certification validates engineers, technicians, and other professionals who are skilled in identifying risks, errors, or defects in business processes and developing solutions to eliminate them. As an employee, the training expands your skills set and makes you more valuable, perhaps even indispensable, to an organization as you understand how to improve processes and sustain quality improvement.
Six Sigma uses a karate-inspired level system which includes a Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, all the way up to Master Black Belt. Devoting some time and effort to the training can put you in position to command a higher aerospace engineer salary.
Six Sigma Yellow Belt: As a yellow belt you should be able to understand the specifics of Six Sigma and how to apply the techniques in a real-world application. You should also be comfortable with providing support on problem solving projects.
Six Sigma Green Belt: Leveling up to a Green Belt requires three years of full-time paid work experience in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Green Belt Body of Knowledge. Green Belts typically work closely under Black Belts on process or quality improvement projects, and are responsible for doing most of the Six Sigma data collection.
Six Sigma Black Belt: At this level you’re basically the Kung Fu Panda of Six Sigma. You won’t be able to make it this far without mastering complex concepts and calculations. Professionals at this level lead projects to achieve process excellence, optimize logistics, improve product quality, and increase profits. As a leader, you’ll be directing yellow and green belts who will look to you for direction and training.
Six Sigma Master Black Belt: Very few individuals reach this rarified level. These Master Jedis serve as consultants and technologists of this special methodology. They also mentor and train students when not initiating and leading problem-solving projects.
If you’re interested in working for one of the top aerospace companies, then a Six Sigma certification can do wonders for your earning potential and help your job application shine. Remember that every master was first a beginner. A number of organizations can provide training to start you on your journey.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) Catalog, IASSCC, the Council for Six Sigma Certification,USC, and CalTech all have programs for candidates looking to earn their certification. Most programs cost a few hundred dollars, which is an investment in yourself that can really pay off in higher wages and a senior level position at the aerospace company of your dreams.
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