What is certification?
A professional certification is a voluntary process by which candidates are assessed against predetermined and standardized criteria for knowledge, skills, competencies, and/or abilities required of a profession. Those successfully completing certification requirements are granted a time-limited credential. To retain your certification, recertification is required after a finite period and involves continuing training and development.
Why become certified?
Whether you are just starting out, or a seasoned professional, certification can help you become a high-value commodity to your employer and be among the most sought-after individuals in your industry. Certifications not only help you attain knowledge, they prove it. Certifications are a recognized and respected industry credential.
- Validates your knowledge against industry standards.
- Provides a portable, industry-recognized credential that travels with you throughout your career.
- Enhances your career opportunities — certification can provide a competitive advantage in the job market.
- Improves your marketability by demonstrating your commitment to continuous learning.
What are SME’s certification standards?
As a certifying body, SME is held to rigorous standards to ensure certification integrity. SME’s Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee, comprised of member volunteers representing industry and academia, works to ensure that every question on each exam is routinely evaluated for its performance, relevance, currency, and integrity.
In the case of Lean Certification, the Lean Portfolio, Accomplishment Record, and interview process is routinely evaluated for performance, objectivity, and integrity. Additionally, the bodies of knowledge for every certification are periodically evaluated by industry-at-large through a significant qualitative and quantitative study, and updated as indicated by the market. This ensures certifications are “normed,” meaning they are relevant regardless of geographic location. This continuous improvement process and norming is what differentiates a true certification from a certificate program.
What is the Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee?
Each certification program has an oversight body
comprised of no fewer than five practitioners and subject matter experts from industry and academia. The oversight bodies evaluate exam performance on a yearly basis making sure that each item is performing accurately. They are responsible for responding to all requests for certification appeals. The oversight body
also ensures that candidates are offered proper tools needed to prepare for the examination and makes recommendations for the development of said tools.
How is a Body of Knowledge developed?
To create a Body of Knowledge (BOK), extensive research is conducted including role delineation studies, job task analyses, and knowledge requirements to perform specified job functions, from which a Body of Knowledge is derived and validated through further industry research.
How do I list my certification credential(s)?
Once you successfully achieve your certification, the credential may be added after your name as follows:
Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT): John Smith, CMfgT
Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE): John Smith, CMfgE
Lean Bronze Certified (LBC): John Smith, LBC
Lean Silver Certified (LSC): John Smith, LSC
Lean Gold Certified (LGC): John Smith, LGC
Can my certification be applied toward an undergraduate program?
SME and the University of Phoenix have established an articulation agreement through which certification holders may qualify for specific college credits toward a degree program with the university. Those earning a Lean Certification, Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT) and/or Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE) qualify. To learn more about this opportunity, check out the Apollo Quick List (PDF)
I do not live in the United States; can I be certified in my country?
Yes, our certification programs are internationally recognized.
What are the requirements to obtain a certification?
Experience requirements are specific to each certification, certificate, and outcome assessment program. To challenge for a certification, certificate, or outcome assessment, you must meet the requirements stated.
How do I apply for certification and schedule an exam?
You can apply online or by mailing/faxing a completed application to:
One SME Drive
Dearborn, MI 48128-2408
Purchase the exam online or download an application:
What happens after I apply for a certification exam?
You will receive a notification from SME once your application is processed. Your confirmation will include details on your next steps, along with hyperlinks to an exam Proctor Form and Agreement that you provide to your exam proctor to complete.
What is the cost for certification?
The cost for certification is different depending on the program. Program pricing is subject to change without notice. Current pricing information is available below.
Do I have to be a member of SME to become certified?
You do not have to be a member of SME to become certified. Members of SME
receive significant savings on the cost of the exam, recertification fees, books, videos, and other training and development opportunities.
Lean Certification partner organizations (ASQ, AME, and the Shingo Institute) receive the SME member rate for the Lean Bronze, Lean Silver, and Lean Gold Certification programs (exam and recertification fees).
Where can I find resources to prepare for the certification exams?
What are some tips for taking the certification exams?
Who can proctor my exam?
Your exam proctor can be your manager, supervisor, Human Resources representative, or a key administrator. They can also be a member of an SME chapter, ASQ section, or AME region, staff at your local college/university, library, or an authorized facilitator at the exam after a review program. All exam proctors must be approved by SME in advance.
What are the roles and responsibilities of an exam proctor?
All exam proctors must be approved by SME in advance. The exam proctor must complete and sign the Proctor Form and Agreement designated for the certification/assessment he/she is administering. In addition, the exam proctor must complete and follow the guidelines in the Proctor Guide:
What is the exam cancellation policy?
If you wish to cancel a scheduled exam sitting, you must notify both SME and your exam proctor within 10 business days of your examination date. You may reschedule your exam within one year from purchasing your exam (application) by coordinating a mutually agreeable date with your exam proctor and SME.
What is the policy for rescheduling an exam?
If you would like to reschedule your exam, it must be within one year from the purchase of your exam (application date). You must coordinate your new exam date with both SME and your exam proctor and provide SME with a new Proctor Form and Agreement. SME will confirm your new date with both you and your proctor.
In what formats is the exam available?
What are the computer requirements to take an online exam?
You must have a Windows® or Apple® laptop or desktop computer, iPad®, or other tablet to take an online exam. At this time, you cannot take the exam on a smart phone. Test your computer
by clicking Get Computer Ready for Testing.
What level of computer skills are required to take the online exam?
General keyboarding skills are required to take the online exam.
With the online exam, can I mark questions?
You will have the ability to mark questions that you want to revisit. At any time during the exam, you can click summary to revisit the questions you marked.
How do I get my paper/pencil exam?
The paper/pencil exam will be mailed directly to your exam proctor. Your proctor will provide you with your exam and answer sheet on the day and time you are scheduled to take the exam. Once your exam is complete, your proctor is responsible for mailing the materials back to SME for grading. SME will mail your results within 30 days from receiving the exam from your proctor.
When and where can I sit for a certification exam?
SME allows individuals or groups to take the exam anywhere, anytime, at a predefined set of recommended locations. Candidates are required to secure an exam proctor, which can be a manager, supervisor, human resources representative, key administrator, instructor, college professor, or staff at a local library, local college, SME chapter, ASQ section, AME region, or at the end of a classroom review program.
Once you have secured a proctor, schedule an exam date that works for both of you. SME must receive your completed Proctor Form and Agreement at least two weeks prior to your selected exam date.
What time does the exam start? Is there a time limit?
The exam starts after your proctor has provided you with your exam materials and clear instructions for completing the exam. Your proctor will time your paper/pencil exam and provide periodic updates of time remaining. For online exams, your time begins once you click the button to start the exam. All exams, except the Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE), allow three hours for completion. The CMfgE allows four hours for completion.
If you have special needs and need more time granted to complete the exam please email us or call us at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Eastern time. Special needs include, but are not limited to, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, dyslexia, or other cognitive conditions.
Note: Technical support is only available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Eastern time for online exams. Although we do not anticipate any technical difficulty, we recommend you schedule your exam when technical support is available, if possible.
How many questions are on the exam?
Below is an approximate number of multiple-choice questions on the exams.
- Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT) – 130
- Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE) – 180
- Lean Bronze – 165
- Lean Silver – 150
- Lean Gold – 150
- Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate – 120
- Electrical/Electronic Technology (EET) – 120
What can I bring to the exam?
You must bring your own materials to the exam. Sharing of books, notes, and other materials is not permitted.Lean Certification Exams
Technical Exams (CMfgT and CMfgE)
- Core Reference Materials
- Notes and documentation (i.e., Body of Knowledge, Blueprint, Essential Body of Work)
- Several #2 pencils, pencil sharpener, and an eraser for taking the paper/pencil exam
- A basic calculator can be used as long as it is quiet, hand-held, and non-broadcasting or receiving.
All programmable memory must be cleared before and after the exam.
Note: Technical support is only available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Eastern time for online exams.
- Recommended Review Books
- Several #2 pencils, pencil sharpener, and an eraser for taking the paper/pencil exam
- A basic calculator can be used as long as it is quiet, hand-held, and non-broadcasting or receiving.
All programmable memory must be cleared before and after the exam.
Although we do not anticipate any technical difficulty, we recommend you schedule your exam when technical support is available if possible.
Is the exam open book?
Yes, the exams are open book and open notes.
What are the benefits of groups sitting for the exams?
If you are part of a corporate group, college, university, or SME chapter and would like to schedule a group sitting for the exam, please email
or call SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Eastern time to schedule.
If you are involved in evaluating or developing a workforce, you understand the importance of having credible data on knowledge and competency. Certification and assessment programs can help identify knowledge gaps and aid in developing continuing education plans. Each exam provides reporting, both at a group and an individual level, that will help identify strengths and areas of improvement for your students and/or workforce. Ultimately, it will help tailor training opportunities and development plans.
Quick feedback is provided after the exam, which includes documented evidence of an individual's strengths and weaknesses (pending waiver). When used for larger groups of employees, you will gain an overall picture of your workforce’s performance.
After an individual or group of individuals completes the certification exam, a detailed report provides a breakdown of the results by key knowledge area. Use the exam results to make decisions about your workforce's professional development. Your examination analysis report will inform you about opportunities for future learning and development.
How will I find out my exam results?
If you take the online exam, you will learn your results immediately. If you take the paper/pencil exam, your results will be mailed within 30 days from SME receiving the exam from your proctor. Regardless of exam type, you will receive a letter and a detailed score report in the mail. Upon passing, you will receive your certificate.
Once your scores are uploaded, you can log into your SME account
and view your score. Click View Your Profile and then click My Certification under My Account on the left side of the webpage. Your score will appear in your online account within ten business days of being scored for paper/pencil exams and within three business days for online exams.
What are the passing scores for the exams?
- Lean Bronze – 75%
- Lean Silver – 75%
- Lean Gold – 75%
- Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT) – 60%
- Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE) – 60%
- Green Manufacturing Specialist – 70%
- Electrical/Electronic Technology (EET) – All candidates who take the exam will receive a certificate of completion
Note: Exam scores are not rounded.
What is the process for grading exams?
If you sit for the paper/pencil exam, your proctor is required to return the exam to SME within 24 hours. Once we receive the exam, we will perform a quality check and then send the exam for scoring. Online exams are scored and results provided immediately.
If I do not pass the exam, how soon may I retake it?
If you do not pass your exam you may retake it 30 days from your original exam date. Candidates may use this time to study and prepare for the retake. There is a reduced fee each time you retake the exam. If you take the online exam, you will learn your results immediately. If you take the paper/pencil exam, your results will be mailed within 30 days from SME receiving the exam from your proctor. Regardless of exam type, you will receive a letter and a detailed score report in the mail.
Do you offer certification exams in other languages?
The Lean Bronze Certification paper/pencil exam is the only exam available in North American Spanish and Continental French. The translations are not available for online testing. SME uses a professional translation service that complies with the American Translation Association guidelines for translation.
What is the refund policy?
You must submit a written request for a refund to SME, which must be received less than one year from the date you purchased the exam. Refunds will be issued less a $50 processing fee. Mail your written request to:
One SME Drive
Dearborn, MI 48128-2408
When will I receive my certificate?
You will receive your certificate within 30 days of completing your certification requirements. Your certificate will be mailed to the preferred mailing address you provide on your exam application.
How can I get a new certificate if there is an error, if I lose it, or if I want my name changed?
or call SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Eastern time to request changes and a new certificate.
What is recertification?
Recertification involves participating in continuing education to accumulate recertification credits. Credits are earned through a multitude of educational activities. Each certification program has its own recertification requirements and fees. Visit sme.org/recertification
for additional information.
The educational requirements of certification are both a prerequisite and requirement for recertification. Your certification shows employers you are a leader in your field and are committed to continuing your growth and professional development. Note: At this time, you cannot pay your recertification fee online.
What is the cost for recertification?
Note: At this time, you cannot pay your recertification fee online.
You can also contact SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Eastern time, to request this information.
How do I check my certification status and expiration date?
Log into your SME account
to view your certifications. This will allow you to view your status, exam results, Lean Portfolio details, Accomplishment Record details, and certification expiration date(s). You may also add your recertification continuing education activities here. Note: At this time, you cannot pay your recertification fee online.
Will I be notified that my certification is expiring?
SME will mail you a statement informing you of your expiration date, the number of credits you have accumulated toward recertification, your recertification fee, directions for logging into your SME account, and directions to upload your recertification activities. Note: At this time, you cannot pay your recertification fee online. You can also contact SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Eastern time to request this information.
How will I know if I need to recertify by exam?
The only time you will need to retake the exam to recertify is if you have not acquired the necessary recertification activities needed for recertification or you have let your certification lapse.
What are recertification activities and when should I submit mine?
A variety of activities for recertification credits are accepted. You are certified for a three-year period and can submit recertification activities at any time during that period. All recertification activities must align to the certification's Body of Knowledge. Visit sme.org/recertification
for additional information. Note: At this time, you cannot pay your recertification fee online.
What if I do not have enough recertification credits to recertify by my expiration date?
You will be granted a three-month grace period to submit your recertification credits and payment. If you do not recertify within that timeframe, you have the option to retake and pass the exam to recertify.
When should I expect my new certificate after recertifying?
Within approximately 30 days of recertifying SME will mail your new certificate that includes your new expiration date.
What is the history of Lean Certification?
This industry-leading certification program is the result of an alliance between the American Society for Quality
(ASQ), Association for Manufacturing Excellence
(AME), Shingo Institute
, and SME
. These organizations partnered to create the Lean Certification program to set the globally recognized standard for lean principles and practices. As a result, the Lean Certification program provides individuals, companies, and educators with a benchmark for achievements and a common roadmap for continuous improvement and workforce development.
The Shingo Institute model was used as a basis for the Body of Knowledge (PDF)
and modified for an approach to individual professional development. This approach to the Body of Knowledge was validated through research and continually evolves with the profession.
What does Lean Certification assess?
Lean Certification assesses:
- What candidates know about the principles and tools of lean through examinations
- How candidates practice lean through a Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record
- How candidates mentor and coach others in lean for Lean Silver and Lean Gold Certification
- How candidates embody lean through a comprehensive interview for Lean Gold Certification
Where can I find information on what knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed for Lean Certification candidates?
As part of the development of the Lean Certification criteria and process, the practitioners involved took on the substantial task of describing lean practitioners. The resulting Lean Certification Competency and Behavior Model (PDF)
has been a staple to individuals seeking Lean Certification).
The Lean Certification Blueprint provides candidates with additional information beyond the Body of Knowledge specific to each certification rank. Where the Body of Knowledge specifies the competencies, topics, and subtopics required by lean practitioners, the Blueprint goes a step further by specifying relevant segments of the Body of Knowledge providing additional detail on the proficiency expected for each certification rank.
The Essential Body of Work, specific to each certification rank, describes the tasks conducted by lean professionals and lays the groundwork for understanding and evaluating requirements for Lean Certification. The Essential Body of Work helps candidates envision their role and evaluating their readiness for certification.
For additional information on these documents visit sme.org/prepare
Is there a hierarchy to acquire Lean Certification?
Lean Certification candidates can apply for certification at the rank that is most appropriate to their career, knowledge, and experience.
What happens after I pass my Lean Bronze exam?
After passing the Lean Bronze exam you will receive a Lean Knowledge Certificate, which is valid for three years. You then have this time to assemble and submit your Lean Portfolio. If your Lean Portfolio is not submitted within the three years from receiving your Lean Knowledge Certificate, you will be required to start the process again by retaking the exam. The same rules apply when completing the Lean Silver and Lean Gold Certification.
What is a Lean Bronze Portfolio?
When striving for Lean Bronze Certification, submitting a comprehensive Portfolio of experience is critical to the process. While passing the exam demonstrates your knowledge, the Portfolio is the most tangible and important evidence of your lean experience. Your Portfolio is peer reviewed and used as verification of your ability to implement lean processes and principles and hands-on application of the knowledge you demonstrated in passing the exam. You have three years from passing the Lean Bronze exam to complete and submit your Portfolio.
What is a Lean Certification Accomplishment Record?
For Lean Silver and Gold Certification, candidates are required to submit an Accomplishment Record. The Accomplishment Record is a narrative format addressing competencies found in the Blueprint for the Silver and Gold certifications.
The Accomplishment Record is a well-respected technique for examining how candidates have applied their knowledge. The Lean Certification Alliance
recognizes the importance of having candidates demonstrate their application of knowledge and skills to actual real-world situations. The Accomplishment Record format allows candidates to validate their ability to apply lean knowledge, skills, and concepts specific to competencies from the Body of Knowledge.
How can I connect with other lean practitioners?
The Lean Registry
is an online networking community where you can connect with other practitioners, Lean Certification candidates, and those who are Lean Certified. You are able to search for experienced mentors, join groups, set up a blog, engage in lean discussions, and more. This is a great tool to connect with those who have gone through the Lean Certification process.
How long do I have to submit my Lean Bronze Portfolio or Accomplishment Record?
You will have three years from passing your exam to submit your Lean Portfolio or your Accomplishment Record for Lean Silver and Lean Gold.
What if I cannot complete my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record in time?
SME or call us at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Eastern time and provide us with your name, certification number, and reason for not being able to submit your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record on time.
Provide evidence of any hardship, including, but is not limited to, extended unemployment, prolonged medical issues, military deployment, and/or return to active duty. Your request for a hardship extension will be forwarded to the Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee
What should I do if I become unemployed and cannot complete my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record?
If you are unemployed and are seeking guidance on getting involved with projects please email SME or call us at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Eastern time. Many project opportunities exist for unemployed candidates, including lean projects with volunteer organizations, schools, chapters, and other volunteer-related activities.
Do you have a Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record example and writing tips to help me throughout the process?
You can find examples and writing tips to assist in completing your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record for Lean Silver and Lean Gold at sme.org/prepare
How do I submit my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record?
Your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record is uploaded by logging into your SME account
. Visit sme.org/prepare
for additional directions. You will receive an email from SME confirming that we have successfully received your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record.
How is my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record scored?
This is a peer review process conducted by a volunteer reviewer who holds a Lean Certification at or above the rank for which they are reviewing. Each reviewer follows a strict set of instructions for reviewing a Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record. The reviewer will provide a score on each project submitted, along with feedback to help you rewrite or revise your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record, if needed.
How many reviewers evaluate my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record?
The Lean Bronze Portfolio has one reviewer. The Lean Silver Accomplishment Record has two reviewers that reach consensus to provide a combined score. The Lean Gold Accomplishment Record has three reviewers that reach consensus to provide a combined score.
What happens when I pass my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record review?
Once you pass your Lean Bronze Portfolio or Lean Silver Accomplishment Record review you are fully certified. You will receive informal notification via email. Your official notification and certificate will be sent within 10 business days of your successful completion.
If you are challenging for Lean Gold Certification, you will be notified that your Accomplishment Record has been approved. Upon approval, an interview date will be scheduled to complete the certification process.
What happens if I do not pass my Lean Bronze Portfolio review?
If you do not pass the first submission of your Lean Portfolio, you will receive a score sheet with feedback from your reviewer. Your scores will clearly indicate areas of deficiency to be addressed, and the reviewer will provide constructive feedback specific to the deficiencies. Comments are intended to assist you in revising your Lean Portfolio. At this point, SME can connect you with your reviewer to discuss his/her feedback. Because this is a volunteer effort, please be sensitive and patient with the response time from your reviewer. They are open to working with you on your Portfolio but please note there may be time constraints. This is not a mentoring/coaching opportunity but rather an open dialogue pertaining to the comments of the failed sections of your Portfolio. You may want to utilize the Lean Registry
to establish a mentoring relationship or connect with fellow lean practitioners.
You have one opportunity to revise and resubmit your Lean Portfolio without penalty. Upon resubmission, if your Portfolio does not pass, it will be automatically sent to one or more members on the Lean Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee
for a final review and decision. If the committee member(s) also fail those sections, the fail will stand. To continue the certification process, you will have to wait one year from your original Portfolio submission date. At that time, you may resubmit your Portfolio for an additional review fee. This waiting period is intended for you to engage in additional projects that may replace the ones that did not pass.
What happens if I do not pass my Lean Certification Accomplishment Record review?
If your Accomplishment Record does not pass on the first submission, you will receive feedback from your reviewer specific to the deficiencies. Comments are intended to assist you with your revision. At this point, SME can connect you with your reviewer to discuss his/her feedback. Because this is a volunteer effort, please be sensitive and patient with the response time from your reviewer. They are open to working with you on your Accomplishment Record but please note there may be time constraints. This is not a mentoring/coaching opportunity but rather an open dialogue pertaining to the comments of the failed portions of the Portfolio. The Lean Registry
is also available to set up a mentoring relationship with fellow lean practitioners.
You have one opportunity to revise and resubmit your Accomplishment Record with no penalty. Upon resubmission, if your Accomplishment Record does not pass at the second submission, it will be automatically sent to the Lean Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee
for final review and decision. If the committee also fails your Accomplishment Record, the fail will stand. To continue the certification process, you will have to wait one year from your original Accomplishment Record submission date. At that time, you may resubmit your Accomplishment Record for an additional review fee.
How much time do I have to resubmit my Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record?
We recommend that you resubmit your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record within four to six months while it is still fresh with the reviewer(s).
What is the process for submitting a revised Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record?
Log into your SME account
to upload your Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record. We will send it to your original reviewer since your revisions are based on his/her feedback. If your original reviewer is currently scoring another Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record, they must complete scoring of that project before they begin rescoring your resubmission. Your reviewer will then only rescore the revised sections you submitted.
What will I receive with my Lean Bronze Portfolio results?
You will receive an email from SME with your Portfolio and score sheet that contains your score for each project and your final reflection. You will also receive feedback from the reviewer on areas to address and potential future professional development considerations for your continuous improvement process.
Can I become a Lean Portfolio or Accomplishment Record reviewer?
Please email SME or call us at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Eastern time, if you are interested in becoming a Portfolio reviewer.
Lean Bronze Certified reviewers will only review a Lean Bronze Portfolio. Lean Silver Certified reviewers can review a Lean Bronze Portfolio or a Lean Silver Accomplishment Record. Lean Gold Certified reviewers can review a Lean Bronze Portfolio and any Accomplishment Record.
SME will provide you with a set of reviewer instructions. You can accept or deny a Portfolio if you are unable to review it at the time we contact you for review. You will receive two recertification
credits for each submission you review.
What if I need additional information?
Complete the online inquiry
, email us
, or call SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or 313.425.3000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Eastern time.