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Greenbacks For Black Belts

Six Sigma isn't embraced widely for business technology, but certification can boost salaries
It's less common in the United States than it is in Europe for the Six Sigma "belts" to be part of an IT professional's title, Foote says. So an individual with master black-belt training might be identified by title as a quality-assurance manager or a project manager. It's the total quality-management methodologies that the professional brings to the work that make the individual so valuable, Foote says.

Many managers aren't convinced the process rigor and continuous measurement and analysis associated with Six Sigma are the best fit for IT operations.

Six Sigma is most closely identified with manufacturing. The original quality-measurement and -improvement plan was popularized in the late 1980s by Motorola Inc. and gained greater fame with its embrace by General Electric Co.

But these days, many nonmanufacturing companies are applying Six Sigma to their businesses. For example, Foote says, a diversified financial-services firm that's a Foote Research client is looking to hire 100 to 200 Six Sigma experts at salaries of $120,000 to $140,000. Says Foote, "Companies are bringing more rigor to improving the quality and success of their processes."