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SME Certification


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SME Certification Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


















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What is certification?
A professional certification is a voluntary process by which individuals are assessed against predetermined, profession-specific standards for knowledge, skill and/or competency. Those successfully completing certification requirements are granted a time-limited credential that requires renewal through meeting profession-prescribed recertification requirements. The primary purpose of certification is assessment to the standards of the profession, and the assessment process is independent of a specific course of study or any education/course/curriculum provider.

Why become certified?
Become certified to upgrade your knowledge and stay current with industry standards, to gain leadership recognition within your company, to gain a sense of achievement, to become part of an elite group of certified individuals, to earn a portable career credential that you can take with you from job to Why become certified?, and to validate your experience within the field you are certifying.

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 every exam offered is routinely and thoroughly evaluated for its performance, relevance, currency and integrity. In the case of Lean Certification, the portfolio and interview process is also routinely and thoroughly 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 SME’s certifications are “normed” meaning they’re relevant regardless of geographic location. It is this continuous improvement process and norming that differentiates a true certification from a certificate program.

Ensure that every question on every exam offered is routinely and thoroughly evaluated for its performance, relevance, currency and applicability to contemporary practice of the profession. For Lean Certification, the portfolio and interview process is routinely and thoroughly 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 research’s findings of current practice of the profession. This ensures SME’s certifications are “normed” meaning they’re relevant regardless of geographic location. It is this continuous improvement process and norming that differentiates a true certification from a certificate program.

How is the Body of Knowledge created?
To create a body of knowledge extensive research is conducted including role delineation studies, job task analyses, knowledge requirements to perform the specified job tasks, from which ultimately a body of knowledge is derived and validated through further industry research.

What is the Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee and what do they do?
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 the 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 they need while preparing for the examinations, and makes recommendations for the development of said tools.

How can I list certifications on my business card or resume?
Once a candidate successfully achieves their certification, the credential may be inserted after your name as outlined below:
Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT)
Example: John Smith, CMfgT
Certified Manufacturing Engineers (CMfgE)
Example: John Smith, CMfgE
Lean Bronze Certified (LBC)
Example: John Smith, LBC
Lean Silver Certified (LSC)
Example: John Smith, LSC
Lean Gold Certified (LGC)
Example: John Smith, LGC

Can I use my certification towards an undergraduate program?

The University of Phoenix and SME Articulation Agreement
SME and The University of Phoenix have established an articulation agreement through which SME certification holders may qualify for specific college credits toward a degree program with the University. Those earning a Lean Bronze, Silver and Gold certification, and a CMfgT or CMfgE, qualify. To learn more about this opportunity, check out the Apollo Quick List.


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What can I study to prepare for the certification exams?
Review of the Body of Knowledge (BOK) for your specific certification, available on the SME website The BOK is a guide for the topics on which candidates will be assessed on the certification examination. It is recommended to review the BOK in conjunction with any program materials prior to sitting for the exam.

SME provides a list of recommended reading resources that may be used to prepare for the exam. Additionally, each certification program offers different preparation methods ranging from online review programs, self-assessment practice tests, competency models and more. Visit each program to find the resources that are available for preparation.

There is not a definitive list of reading resources for the EET or the Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate since these are not full certification programs, rather they are assessments designed to help assess learning progress. For EET program, extensive benchmarking of EET undergraduate curriculum was undertaken to develop a standardized assessment covering core topics covered across two-and-four-year EET higher education programs. The Green Manufacturing Assessment was developed as a capstone assessment for the Purdue TAP Green Manufacturing Specialist training. However, the exam development process followed the certification test development standards, and this assessment may be used independent of the Purdue TAP curriculum.

What are some test taking tips?
Visit the links below for exam taking tips.

CMfgT & CMfgE Tips

Lean Tips


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What is the cost for certification?

 SME Member  Non-Member
 $245.00  $490.00
 SME Student Member  Non-Student Member
 $95.00  $195.00
 SME Member Prior Certified  Non-Member 
 $196.00  $392.00
 SME Member   Non-Member
 $245.00  $490.00
 SME Member Prior Certified  Non-Member
 $196.00  $392.00

 SME Member  Non-Member
 $100.00  $125.00

 SME/AME/ASQ/Shingo Institute Member  Non-Member 
 $448.50  $690.00
 SME/AME/ASQ/Shingo Institute Member  Non-Member
 $864.50  $1,330.00
 Previously Bronze Certified Member   Previously Bronze Certified Non-Member 
 $532.00  $886.50
 SME/AME/ASQ/Shingo Member  Non-Member
 $1,142.60  $1,970.00
 Previously Bronze Certified Member   Previously Bronze Certified Non-Member 
 $886.50  $1,477.50
 Previously Silver Certified Member  Previously Silver Certified Non-Member
 $591.00  $886.50


What is the cost of recertification?

 SME Member  Non-Member 
 $95.00  $190.00

SME/AME/ASQ/Shingo Member Non-Member 
$125.00 $220.00



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What are the work experience requirements for certification?
Experience requirements are specific to each certification or certificate program.

Certified Manufacturing Technologist - This certification primarily benefits new manufacturing engineers and experienced manufacturers without other credentials. Pursuing a CMfgT certification requires a minimum of 4 years combined manufacturing-related education and/or work experience.

Certified Manufacturing Engineer - Professionals who earn a CMfgE demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of manufacturing processes and practices. Pursuing a CMfgE certification requires a minimum of 8 years of combined manufacturing-related education and/or work experience, including a minimum of 4 years of work experience. A CMfgT with a minimum of 7 years manufacturing-related work experience and/or education also qualifies.

Lean Certification

Lean Bronze - Completion of 80 hours minimum of education/training requirements.

  • Exam
  • Portfolio that contains five (5) tactical projects: events, projects and/or activities to which specific lean principles and tools were applied


Lean Silver - Completion of 160 hours (80 hours from Bronze + 80 additional hours) minimum education/training requirements.

  • Exam
  • Portfolio that contains three (3) tactical projects and two (2) Integrative (Value Stream) projects: events, projects and/or activities to which specific lean principles and tools were applied. Mentoring/coaching report and integrative portfolio reflection providing results of the events, projects and/or activities.


Lean Gold - Completion of (200 hours 80 from Bronze, 80 from Silver + 40 additional hours) minimum education/training requirements.

  • Exam
  • Portfolio that contains one (1) tactical project, two (2) Integrative (Value Stream) projects and two(2) Strategic (Enterprise) Projects: events, projects and/or activities to which specific lean principles and tools were applied. Mentoring/coaching report and integrative portfolio reflection providing results of the events, projects and/or activities.


Green Manufacturing specialist certificate - SME, along with the Purdue University Technical Assistance Program (TAP) developed the green outcome assessment that candidates may take to obtain the Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate. Based on the standards to which the exam was developed, it may be used by any education or training provider aligning to the body of knowledge. No minimum work experience.

Electrical Electronic Engineering Technology - The assessment is intended for both two- and four- year EET programs wanting additional outcome assessment information to support their ABET (or other) accreditation requirements. There is no expiration on the recognition certification each student receives for sitting the exam.

I don't have the required experience. Can I still get certified?
To challenge for an SME certification you must meet the requirements as stated

How can I apply for a Certification?
Each candidate is required to apply for the certification. Apply online or by using the paper format application and mail or fax to SME at One SME Drive Dearborn, MI 48121 or fax to 313-425-3400. Apply through the SME shopping cart, or fill out the SME Certification Information Request Form; or call SME customer care 1-800-733-4763 to have a PDF version emailed to you or to apply over the phone.

Do I have to be a member of SME to become certified?
Candidates do not have to be SME members. However, members receive significant savings on certification fees, recertification fees, and education & professional development opportunities that may be applied toward recertification. If you are applying for Lean certification members of the Lean Certification partner organizations (AME, ASQ, or Shingo Institute Examiners) receive the member rate on the lean programs.

Will I receive a confirmation after applying for the exam with details on my next steps?
Yes, you will receive a notification from SME once your application is processed. Your confirmation will include details regarding your next steps, along with an exam proctor form and proctor agreement that the candidate will provide to their exam proctor to complete.

Who may proctor my exam?
Your exam proctor can be your manager, supervisor, Human Resources representative, a key administrator; a member of an SME chapter, ASQ section or AME region; a local college/university, library, or an authorized facilitator at an upcoming face-to-face review program.

Do you offer exams in other languages?
Yes, the Lean Bronze paper-pencil exam is the only exam available in both 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 policy for refunds?
SME must receive in writing a request for refund within one year of your original application. Refunds will be issued less a $50 application processing fee.

What is the cancellation policy?
Because SME offers a test “anytime, anywhere” method, if you wish to cancel an 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 of your application by coordinating with SME and your exam proctor on a mutually agreeable date.

What is the policy for rescheduling an exam?
If you would like to reschedule your exam, it must be within one year of your original application. You must coordinate your new exam date with both SME and your exam proctor, and provide SME with updated proctor form, proctor agreement, and your new proposed exam date. SME will confirm your new date with both you (candidate), and your proctor.



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In what formats is the exam available?

The online exam can be taken using any Windows-based or Apple computer with internet access. The online format offers immediate notification of your exam results. Key benefits of the online format include the ability to mark questions that you may go back to and answer later;, you can mark questions that you answered but wanted to double-check; and at the end of your exam, you may view a summary highlighting these items.

Will I receive computer document set-up/requirements information? What level of computer skills are required to take the online exam?
Documents outlining computer setup for both Windows-based and Apple computers are distributed to candidates and their proctors to ensure proper computer set-up to gain access to the online testing website. General keyboarding skills are required to take the online exam.

With the online exam will I be able to mark questions?
Yes, you will have the ability to mark questions that you wish to come back to later. You will be provided a summary at the end of the assessment showing which items you marked. You may then click on an item to be taken directly to it.

How do I get my pencil-paper exam?
The paper-pencil format exam will be mailed directly to your exam proctor. Your proctor will provide with your exam and answer sheet to on the day and time you are scheduled to take your test. Once your exam is complete your proctor will be responsible for mailing the materials back to SME for grading. SME will notify you of your exam score within 30 days.

When can I sit for a certification exam?
SME does not schedule formal exam “sittings.” Instead, 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, someone from a local library, a local college, an SME chapter, ASQ section, AME region, or, at an upcoming classroom review program. Once you have secured a proctor you both will agree on an exam date that works well for the both of you. SME must receive your completed proctor form and agreement at least two weeks prior to your selected exam date. This will allow SME to provide your proctor with all exam details in a timely manner. SME offers both the online and paper format for the exam. If you’re part of a corporate group, college/university, or SME chapter and would like multiple people to sit for the exam please contact SME Certifications to arrange: or 1-800-733-4763.

What time do the exams start and is there a time limit?
The exam starts after your proctor has provided you with your exam materials and has read through the proctor guide to provide you with clear instruction. Once you begin your exam your proctor will start timing you and provide periodic updates of time remaining. All exams except the CMfgE allow three hours for completion. The CMfgE allows four hours for completion.

Special Needs:
If you have special needs and need more time granted to complete the exam please contact us at or call 1-800-733-4763. Special needs include, but are not limited to: learning disabilities, physical disabilities, dyslexia or other cognitive conditions.

How many questions are on the exam?  

  • Certified Manufacturing Technologist - approximately 130 multiple-choice; three hours are allowed for the exam.
  • Certified Manufacturing Engineer - approximately 180 multiple-choice questions; four hours are allowed for the exam.
  • Lean Bronze - approximately 170 multiple-choice questions; three hours are allowed for the exam.
  • Lean Silver - approximately 150 multiple-choice questions; three hours are allowed for the exam.
  • Lean Gold - approximately 150 multiple-choice questions; three hours are allowed for the exam.
  • Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate - approximately 120 multiple choice questions, three hours are allowed for the exam.
  • Electrical Electronic Engineering Technology - approximately 120 multiple choice questions, three hours are allowed for the exam.


Can I bring a calculator?

Technical exams:
Any quiet, hand-held non-broadcasting or receiving type calculator may be used during these exams. You MUST clear all programmable memory before you begin and after you complete the exam.

Lean exams:
A basic calculator can be used

Is the exam open book?
Yes, the SME exams are open book. You may bring your recommended reading materials, notes from a review program for that specific certification, and an acceptable calculator to the exam.

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 benefits of corporate groups sitting for the exams?
If you are involved in evaluating or developing a workforce, you understand the importance of having credible data on knowledge and competency. The SME Certification programs can support the identification of knowledge gap to aid in developing continuing education plans. Each certification exam provides reporting, both at a group and an individual level, that will help identify strengths and areas of improvement in your employees' knowledge base. Ultimately, it will help tailor both group training opportunities and individual development plans.

Benefits of Group Exams  

  • Quick feedback after exams
  • Documented evidence of an individual's strengths and weaknesses (pending waiver)
  • When used for larger groups of employees, gain a clear overall picture of how your workforce stands in their training needs.


Exam Reporting
Get detailed feedback! 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.


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How will I be informed of my exam results?
If you take the online exam you will learn your results immediately upon submission, and will receive your official printed results in the mail within 30 days. If you take the paper-pencil version of the exam, SME will mail your results within 30 days of receiving the exam from your proctor. Regardless of exam type, SME will mail you a letter and detailed score report; if your certification is an exam-only program, you will also receive your official certificate; if you are a Lean Certification candidate you will receive instructions on your portfolio submission. Once your scores are downloaded by SME, can log into your SME account and view your score in your “My Certification” area. All exams are scored within 7 days of receipt by SME. Your score will appear in your online account within 10 days for paper pencil exams and within 3 days for online exams.

What are the passing scores for the exams?
CMfgT - 60%
CMfgE - 60%
Lean Bronze - 75%
Lean Silver - 75%
Lean Gold - 75%
Green Manufacturing specialist - 70%
EET - No score - used for learning measurement only. All students sitting the exam receive a certificate of completion.

What is the exam grading process?
If you sit for the paper pencil exam your proctor is required to mail it back to SME within 24 hours. Once SME receives the exam we will perform a quality check, and then send the exam for scoring.

If I do not pass the exam, how soon may I retake it?
If you do not pass your exam you may retake it after 30 days of your original exam date. Candidates may use this time to study and prepare for the retake. There is a $60 retake fee each time your retake the exam. The Green Manufacturing Specialist exam retake fee is $45. Within 30 days of your original exam date you will receive a copy of your detailed score report in the mail. This report will help you prioritize areas in which to study to improve your chances before sitting the exam again.

May I check my exam results online?
Yes. If you are an SME member you can log into your SME account and view “My Certifications” to see your exam results. If you are a non-member you will be provided instructions in your exam confirmation on how you can create an account as a “non-member” (this includes AME and ASQ members and Shingo Institute Examiners) using your certification number and email address. You will then be able to log in and view your results under “My Certifications”.

When do I get a certificate?
You will receive your SME-issued wall certificate within 30 days of completing your certification requirements...

For the EET exam, examinees that take the test will receive an EET Outcome Assessment Certificate endorsed by SME, the Electrical and Electronics Department heads Association (ECETDHA) and the The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE.

Candidate that take and successfully pass the Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate (GMSC) exam will receive a certificate endorsed by Purdue TAP and SME.

Will you mail my certificate to my home or work?
SME will mail your certificate to your preferred mailing address that you provide to us on your exam application.

How can I get a new certificate if there is an error, if I lose it, or if I want a more formal name on my certificate?
You can contact us at or call customer service at 1-800-733-4763 and request a reprint of your certificate with the updated/name.

I have had a name change since earning my credential. How do I request an new certificate?
You can contact us at or call customer service at 1-800-733-4763 and request a reprint of your certificate with your new name.


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What is recertification?
Recertification involves participating in continuing education to accumulate recertification credits. Credits may be accumulated via a multitude of educational activities. Each certification program has its own recertification requirements and fees. Click here for more information about CMfgT or CMfgE recertification requirements. Click here for more information about Lean recertification requirements.

The educational requirements of certification are both a prerequisite and requirement for recertification; one more reason to continuously maintain and upgrade your knowledge. Your certification shows employers you are a leader in your field, committed to continuing your growth and professional development. Let them know about your achievement! Individuals holding certifications form an elite group of professionals who have demonstrated their manufacturing knowledge. When you change jobs, your certification credentials travel with you. They are resume builders and show you are serious about your career.

How do I check my certification status and my certification expiration date?
If you are an SME member you can log into your SME account to view your certifications. This will allow you to view your status, exam results, portfolio details, and certification expiration dates. You may also add your recertification continuing education activities here. If you are not an SME member, you may create an account using your certification number and your email address, which will provide full access to view your certification information.

Will I be notified that my certification is expiring?
Yes. SME will mail you a statement informing you of your expiration date, the number of credits you have accumulated toward recertification, your recertification fees, and directions for logging into your SME account and uploading your recertification activities.

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 requisite recertification activities needed for recertification OR if you have let your certification lapse. You then have the option to retake and pass the exam to recertify.

What are recertification activities and when should I submit mine?
We accept a variety of activities for recertification credits. You are certified for three years and can submit them at anytime during that period. There is a nominal fee. Click here for more information about Technical recertification requirements. Click here for more information about Lean recertification requirements. All recertification activities must align to the certification's body of knowledge.

Technical Certification: Recertification Requirements
Your continuing education qualifies you for recertification. You have three years to complete the recertification requirements. Recertification requires 36 credits for a single technical certification and 54 credits to renew multiple technical certifications.

Attention Current CEI Certifications:
While the CEI certification is no longer available to new candidates, you may recertify your CEI certification as part of your continuing commitment to the profession of enterprise integration. Please see qualifying activities below.

Add Credits Process:

Step 1: Sign into your SME Customer Account.
Step 2: Click on Your Name when it appears in ther upper right corner to access your SME Profile Page.
Step 3: Click on the My Certifications button on the left to be taken to your new "transcript" page.
Step 4: At the bottom of the page, click on the Add Transcript to add credits for recertification.


    Attending any Technical related events

Authorship / Ownership:

    Preparing and publishing Technical related materials


    Participating in Technical related educational programs


    Active participation in Technical related events and activities


    Participation on a Technical related committee or board

Click here (PDF) to access the complete table describing the details for each element and associated activity.

Login and upload your recertification units or view your certifications. It will be helpful to have the Body of Knowledge available for reference as you input your activities online. Click here for the BOK (PDF).


$95.00 for SME members
$190.00 for non-members

Good Luck in your recertification!
Questions about recertification should be directed to: or Customer Service at 800.733.4763.


Lean Certification: RECERTIFICATION requirements

Professional Development activities
Bronze / Silver / Gold
Re-certification element 60 credits required during the three
year re-certification period.
 Attendance Maximum of 30 credits over a
3 year period
Conferences 1 credit per hour of attendance
AME / ASQ / SME Chapter meetings 1 credit per hour of attendance
Chapter sponsored courses 1 credit per hour of attendance
Lean seminars 1 credit per hour of attendance
 Authorship / Ownership Maximum of 25 credits over a
3 year period
Published Lean Book 25 credits per book
Application for Lean Award 3.5 credits per application
Lean Technical Paper 3 credits per paper
Speaker material .5 per engagement, maximum of 4 credits per year
Lean paper 3 credits per paper
Reflection Upload 6.5 credits, limit 1 reflection per recertification period
 Education Maximum of 18 credits over a
3 year period
College Courses 1 credit per hour attended
Continuing Education Credits 10 credits per CEU
Create Lean Training Material .5 credits per hour spent creating materials.
Employer arranged training 1 credit per hour
AME / ASQ / SME / The Shingo Institute sponsored training and development 1 credit per hour
Read a Lean book 4 credits per book
Teach a Lean exam prep course .5 credits per hour
Part-time teaching 2 credits per hour
Technical Education college course 15 per college credit
Watch Videos 1 credit per video
Web-based training (interactive) 3 credits per hour
Webinars 1 credit per webinar
 Involvement  Maximum of 30 credits over a
3 year period
Committee Activity - i.e.: Gold interview team / writing articles /item writing, etc. .5 credits per activity hour
Co-presenter / speaker engagement 1 credit per engagement
Kaizen / Lean Event / Project 8 credits per event
Read / Score AME / The Shingo Institute award application / achievement report 2 credits per application / achievement report
Review a lean certification portfolio 2 credits per portfolio
 Leadership Maximum of 30 credits over a
3 year period
Elected Officer (Chair, Chair-elect, Past Chair) of lean organization 8 credits per year of service
Member leader of a lean organization 5 credits per year of service
Member who performs ad-hoc sub-committee responsibilities 1 credit per event/activity, for a total of 9 per year. 27 is the maximum for ad hoc service.
Mentoring (Silver / Gold certification) 1 credit per hour with maximum of 30 per year.
Organize a lean event for AME / ASQ / SME / The Shingo Institute. 1.5 credits per event
 Go to Gemba Maximum of 30 credits over a
3 year period
Lean Employment 2 credits per month, maximum of 8 per year.
Plant Assessment 2 credits per assessment: written report required, maximum of 4 per year.
Book Review (Shingo Institute, Lean Certification Recommended Reading list) 2 credits per assessment: written report required, maximum of 4 per year.
Plant / Facility tour 1 credit per hour, maximum of 4 tours per year.
 Customer Feedback  Maximum of 6 credits over a
3 year period
LinkedIn / Lean Registry / Documented recommendation / Testimonial .5 credits per documented recommendation.


Your education, training & development should include 3 or more various types of professional development activities.

I don't have enough recertification credits to recertify by my expiration date. What are my options?
You will be granted a three month grace period to submit your recertification credits and payment. If you do not recertify by within that timeframe you will have the option to retake and pass the exam to recertify.

When should I expect my new certification certificate?
Within 30 days of recertifying SME will mail you a copy of your new certificate with your new expiration dates.


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What's the history of the model?
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and the Shingo Institute for Excellence in Manufacturing collaborated with industry and academia to develop an industry standard for professional Lean Certification. The Shingo Institute model was used as a basis for the body of knowledge (BOK) for the program, modified for an approach to individual professional development. This approach to the BOK was validated through research, and continually evolves with the profession.

This certification-development initiative was driven by constituents of the participating organizations who encouraged a collaboration to set an industry standard for Lean Certification. In 2010, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) joined the Lean Certification Alliance partners. Lean Certification is designed by industry, for industry, as a standard against which professional lean competencies are measured, and is the only independent, 3rd party evaluation of knowledge, skills and abilities.

What does Lean Certification assess?
The Lean Certification assesses 1) what candidates “know” about the principles and tools of lean through examinations; 2) how candidates practice lean through a portfolio of experience; 3) at the Silver and Gold levels, how candidates are mentoring/coaching others in Lean also through the portfolio and; 4) at the Gold level of certification, how candidates embody lean through a comprehensive interview.

Is there a source of information I can reference to understand what knowledge, skills and abilities a lean candidate should possess?
Yes please refer to the Lean Competencies & Behavior Model document.

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 “Competencies and Behavior Model” has been a staple to individuals seeking Lean Certification. The model presents descriptions of skills and behaviors associated with each certification level: Bronze, Silver, and Gold and their relationship to the lean body on knowledge. Combined with the exam and portfolio, the model provides candidates with a complete picture for lean success. The exam covers knowledge; the portfolio covers application; and the model provides the picture of how effective use of those can result in transformation. The document can be found here under the Supporting Pages area.

Is there a specific sequence I need to follow to acquire certifications?
Lean certification is a build forward model, beginning at the bronze level and progressing to the desired level of lean certification.

I am operating at a Silver level. Can I skip Bronze certification and move right into Silver?
We recognize that there are many Lean professionals who may qualify for the Silver or Gold level of certification. A candidate may apply for any level of certification, at any time. If a candidate has not been certified at the previous level (e.g. Bronze, Silver), they must complete all requirements for the previous levels order to earn their desired level of certification. For example, if a candidate is applying directly for the Gold-level of Certification and did not previously earn a Bronze and Silver-level Certification, the candidate will first need to successfully complete the Lean Bronze Certification process, then the Lean Silver Certification process before proceeding to Gold.

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 three years to assemble and submit your Bronze portfolio for review. If your portfolio is not submitted within the required timeframe you will be required to start the process over again, starting by retaking the exam. After completing the Silver and gold exams the same rules apply.

What is a portfolio?
Whether you are striving for Lean Bronze, Silver, or Gold certification, submitting a comprehensive experiential portfolio is critical to the process. While passing the exams demonstrates your knowledge, the portfolio is the most tangible - and most important - evidence of your lean experience and practice. Reviewers utilize the portfolio as verification of practical, hands-on application of the knowledge you demonstrated by passing the exams.

Is there an online platform to meet with other Lean Practitioners that have gone through the certification process?
Yes, we have a Lean Registry social networking platform where you can connect with other practitioners, search for more experienced mentors, join groups, set up blogs, engage in lean discussions, and more. This is a great tool to connect with those who have gone through the process and achieved their certification as well as with lean practitioners willing to share their experiences and mentor others on the journey.

How long do I have to submit my LEAN portfolio?
You will have three years after passing your exam to submit your Lean portfolio (regardless of level).

What if I cannot complete the portfolio in time? May I apply for a hardship extension?
Please contact SME at and provide us with your name, certification number, and reason for not submitting your portfolio on time. Include evidence of hardship. Evidence includes, but is not limited to, extended unemployment, prolonged medical issues, and military deployment/return to active duty. Your request for a hardship extension may be forwarded to the appropriate Certification Oversight Committee for approval.

I am unemployed and cannot complete my portfolio. What do I do now?
If you are unemployed and are seeking guidance on getting involved with projects please contact Many project opportunities exist for the unemployed including lean projects with volunteer organizations, schools, chapters/regions/sections, and other volunteer-related activities.

Do you have an example or portfolio writing tips to help me throughout the process?  

  • Please visit this link for portfolio writing tips:
  • To view the portfolio instructions, forms for each level, and sample projects please visit this link.


How do I submit my portfolio?
You can upload your portfolio into your SME account through the "My Certification" area; if you are not an SME member and would like to create an account please contact customer service at 1.800.733.4763 or

Will I receive a confirmation that my portfolio was uploaded?
Yes, SME will send you a confirmation email informing you that your portfolio was successfully received.

How will my portfolio be reviewed and scored?
This is a peer review process conducted by a volunteer reviewer certified minimally to the level of portfolio they're reviewing. Each reviewer follows a strict set of reviewer instructions while reviewing portfolios. The reviewer will provide a score on each project submitted, along with feedback to help you rewrite or revise your portfolio if needed.

How many reviewers evaluate my portfolio?
Bronze portfolios have one reviewer per portfolio. Silver portfolios have two reviewers that reach consensus to provide a combined score. Gold portfolios have three reviewers that reach consensus to provide a combined score.

What happens when my portfolios passes?
You have already passed the exam. Once your portfolio passes at the Bronze or Silver level 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 of the portfolio. If you are challenging for the Gold-level, you will be notified that your portfolio has been accepted (or needs a revision). If your portfolio is accepted, you will then schedule your interview date.

What happens if my portfolio does not pass?
If your portfolio does not pass on the first submission, 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 also provide constructive feedback specific to the deficiencies. Comments are intended to assist you with your revision. At this point, SME can connect you with your reviewer to dialogue about the 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 are 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 portfolio with no penalty. Upon resubmission, if your portfolio does not pass at the second submission, your portfolio will be automatically sent to one or more Lean Certification Oversight & Appeals Committee member(s) for final review and decision. If the committee member also fails those sections, the fail will stand. To continue the certification process, you will have to wait one year from your original portfolio submission date and you may resubmit your portfolio with an additional $200 portfolio review fee for additional attempts. This wait period is intended for you to engage in additional projects that may replace the ones that did not pass.

What is the process for a revised portfolio?
If you are submitting a revised portfolio we will send it to your original reviewer since your revisions were based on their feedback. If you're original reviewer is currently scoring another portfolio, they must complete the scoring of that portfolio before they begin the rescore on your resubmission. Your reviewer will then rescore the revised sections of your portfolio only.

What will I receive with my portfolio results?
You will receive an email from with your attached portfolio score sheet that contains your score for each project and final reflection. You will also receive, in your portfolio results, feedback from the reviewer of areas to address in your portfolio and potential future professional development considerations for your personal continuous improvement process.

How do I become a portfolio reviewer?
You must be certified at the level of portfolios you are reviewing. For example, to review a Lean Bronze portfolio, you must be at least Lean Bronze Certified; if you are Lean Silver Certified, you are able to review both Bronze and Silver portfolios. Once you decide you would like to become a reviewer, SME will provide you with a set of "reviewer instructions". You can accept or deny portfolios if you are unable to review at that time and we will find another available reviewer to send the portfolio to for review. For each portfolio you review you will receive 2 recertification hours that you can use towards your education/training portion of your recertification portfolio. Click here for more information on the recertification process.

Who should I contact regarding SME Certification programs?
You can call customer service at 313.271.1500 or 1.800.733.4763 and request to speak with a staff member or email For more details about the program please visit,