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SME Certification

Lean Certification


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Steps toward Earning Lean Bronze Certification

Step 1: Assess your knowledge and experience

To earn the Lean Bronze Certification, you must demonstrate your understanding of the Lean Certification Body of Knowledge (PDF) by passing the Lean Bronze Certification exam, for which you’ll receive a Lean Knowledge Certificate. To become certified, you must further demonstrate your lean training and development by creating a Lean Bronze Portfolio (PDF) that contains three tactical projects and activities.

You should understand the basics of lean, including:

Autonomation (Jidoka)
Cells, one piece flow
Continuous improvement (Kaizen)
Cost, productivity results
Customer demand pace (takt time)
Customer requirements, satisfaction
Distribution, logistics, delivery
Identifying value added/non-value added work
Identifying waste
Lean product design
Load leveling/production leveling (Heijunka)
Mistake proofing (Poka-yoke)
Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA)
Problem solving (5 Whys)
Pull systems (Kanban)
Quality methods
Quick changeover, setup reduction
Root cause, corrective action
Standard work
Total productive maintenance (TPM)
Value stream mapping
Visual factory

Visit for additional information and preparation resources. You may want to consider finding a mentor as you begin your lean journey. This is an informal relationship between you and someone with advanced lean knowledge and experience. Look to find a mentor within your own company, through the Lean Registry, Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) leaders in your area, or, if you are an SME member, your local chapter may be a good resource.

Step 2: Read the Core Reference Material

Exam questions are based on specific Core Reference Material selected by knowledgeable and experienced individuals. You can save 10% by purchasing the Lean Bronze Certification book package, which includes:

Step 3: Evaluate your lean knowledge

These resources can help you assess and evaluate your lean knowledge before you take the exam:

  • Online Self-Assessment: This online self-assessment evaluates your lean knowledge and identifies strengths and weaknesses to determine where further study is needed.
  • Online Review Program: This online review program is comprised of eight classes mapped to the Body of Knowledge (PDF).
  • Classroom Review Program: This collaborative, instructor-led review program helps solidify your understanding of the Body of Knowledge (PDF). It is an invaluable opportunity to prepare you for the exam and provide you with a foundation for completing the Lean Certification program.

Step 4: Apply

The Lean Bronze Certification exam is offered in online and paper/pencil formats. You have one year to take the exam from the date you apply.

Click here to apply

Step 5: Schedule and take the exam

The Lean Bronze Certification exam is a three hour, open book and open notes exam. It consists of approximately 165 multiple-choice questions mapped to the Body of Knowledge (PDF). Exam questions are taken from the Core Reference Material.

You must submit your Proctor Form and Agreement (PDF) to SME at least two weeks before your scheduled exam date. You can find exam preparation tips at

To pass the exam, you need to score 75% or higher. After your exam is scored, you will receive official results by mail, which includes an Examination Analysis Report (PDF) that provides a breakdown of your results by knowledge area.

Upon passing the exam you will earn your Lean Knowledge Certificate (not a certification) that serves as a base in your pursuit of Lean Bronze Certification. Your Lean Knowledge Certificate is valid for three years and is not renewable.

Step 6: Submit your Lean Bronze Portfolio

To earn your Lean Bronze Certification, you must demonstrate your ability to apply lean principles and tools. This is accomplished through the development of your Lean Bronze Portfolio. You have three years from receiving your Lean Knowledge Certificate to submit your Portfolio, which must document and include:

  • 80 hours of education and training requirements (PDF)
  • Three tactical projects where specific lean principles and tools were applied (events, projects, activities)
  • A reflection statement that captures your lean journey and what you have learned through the certification process.

Visit for the Portfolio Requirements and Forms (PDF), Portfolio Information and Instructions (forthcoming), Portfolio Writing Tips, and additional resources.

Step 7: Plan your next step

Upon passing your Portfolio review you will earn your Lean Bronze Certification (LBC). During this time you may choose to pursue recertification or another certification rank. Your Lean Bronze Certification is valid for three years.

If you have questions or need additional information email us, complete an online inquiry form, or call SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000.