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SME Certification

Lean Certification


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Lean Bronze Certification

Learn the fundamentals of lean from a tactical perspective.

At the Lean Bronze Certification level, your education and training focuses on how to apply lean principles, concepts, and methods within a work cell, work group, or value stream. Earning your Lean Bronze Certification demonstrates your solid understanding of basic lean principles and tools, and your ability in tactical implementation that drives improvement and shows measurable results.

You’ll study and learn lean from these key modules from the Lean Certification Body of Knowledge (PDF):

  • Module 1: Cultural Enablers (15%)
  • Module 2: Continuous Process Improvement (60%)
  • Module 3: Consistent Lean Enterprise Culture (10%)
  • Module 4: Business Results (15%)

Your first step is to pass the Lean Bronze Certification exam, for which you’ll receive a Lean Knowledge Certificate. To become certified, you must demonstrate your lean training and development through a lean portfolio of experience containing five tactical projects and activities. These reveal your ability to implement lean principles that drive improvement and show measurable results.

Assess and Prepare

Start your preparation by reviewing the Body of Knowledge (PDF), Competency and Behavior Model (PDF), and core reference materials. Visit and read the Exam Preparation Tips for additional information and resources.

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.
  • Lean Registry: A free online networking community and collaboration space to connect with other lean practitioners. It also includes upcoming events, blogs, and a growing lean glossary.

You should also 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


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

Click here to apply

Schedule and Take

The Lean Bronze Certification exam is a three hour, open book and open notes exam. It consists of 165 multiple-choice questions mapped to the Body of Knowledge (PDF). Exam questions are taken from the core reference materials. You must submit your Proctor Form and Agreement (PDF) to SME at least two weeks before your scheduled exam date.

Interpret Your Results

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. Use this report to make decisions about your future professional development.

Next Steps

If you passed your exam, congratulations, you have earned your Lean Knowledge Certificate (not a certification) that serves as a base in your pursuit of Lean Bronze Certification.

The next step is to demonstrate your ability to apply lean principles and tools. This is demonstrated through the development of a lean portfolio. You have three years from receiving your Lean Certification Knowledge Certificate to submit your portfolio, which must document and include:

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

Visit for the portfolio requirements and forms (MS Word), portfolio information and instructions (PDF), writing tips, and additional resources.

Upon passing your portfolio review you will earn your Lean Bronze Certification (LBC) which is valid for three years. During this time you may choose to pursue recertification or pursue the Lean Silver Certification. Your Lean Bronze Certification is valid for three years. During this time, you may choose to pursue recertification or the Lean Silver Certification.


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 source.

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