SME Lean Certification – Everything You Need to Know

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is a non-profit organization of licensed engineers that publishes various educational materials such as books, videos, journals, magazines as well as technical papers for aspiring manufacturing practitioners and professionals around the globe.

Ever since SME was founded in 1932 (originally called The Society of Tool Engineers (STE)), the organization has continued to evolve, promoting leading edge manufacturing practices. As well as being a hub of manufacturing resources, SME provides Lean certification to manufacturing professionals via its Gold, Silver and Bronze certifications.

SME Lean Certification


What is SME Lean Certification?

The SME Lean Certification program is a collaborative effort from several top manufacturing organizations:

The Shingo Prize, The Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), SME and ASQ (who joined the program in 2010).

Their purpose was to provide a standard benchmark for up and coming lean practitioners and young professionals of manufacturing. With the help of the Lean Certification program, students, professionals and practitioners alike will be recognized for their degree of lean expertise.

Aspiring manufacturing engineers, technologists and managers have the option of taking the Lean Certification program to enhance their knowledge and to gain higher career opportunities. The three different SME Lean Certification levels, available in Bronze, Silver, and Gold, provide unbiased certification to manufacturing professionals.

Continue reading below to learn more about the different Lean Certification programs being offered by SME.


SME Lean Certification Levels

SME Lean Bronze Certification

Lean Bronze Certification focuses on the basic lean fundamentals and tools.  While the Bronze level certification covers a base level of lean information, even an SME Bronze Lean Certificate is a prestigious accomplishment. This certification program is very beneficial to entry-level professionals as it provides a strong base on which to build practical lean skills.

Key modules include:

  • Continuous Process Improvements (60%)
  • Business results (15%)
  • Cultural Enablers (15%)
  • Consistent Lean Enterprise Culture (10%)

For more details on certification requirements, head on over to the Lean Bronze Certification page. 


SME Lean Silver Certification

Lean Silver Certification focuses on career progression and leadership. Compared to the Bronze Certification, Lean Silver Certification focuses in more detail on lean leadership. While the scope of educational material covered by a Lean Silver Certificate is similar to the Bronze level, the key modules are explained in a more advanced manner.

Key modules include:

  • Continuous Process Improvements (30%)
  • Business Results (30%)
  • Cultural Enablers (20%)
  • Consistent Lean Enterprise Culture (20%)

For more details on certification requirements, head on over to the Lean Silver Certification page. 


SME Lean Gold Certification

Lean Gold Certification is the highest form of certification offered by SME. Gold certificate holders have a greater understanding of the various aspects of the total lean enterprise. Becoming a certified Lean Gold professional will lead to greater career opportunities, such as having authority over company assets, processes and people, using lean leadership skills.

Key modules include:

  • Consistent Lean Enterprise Culture (30%)
  • Business Results (30%)
  • Cultural Enablers (25%)
  • Continuous Process Improvements (15%)

For more details on certification requirements, head on over to the SME Lean Gold Certification page. 


How to get SME Lean Certified

Becoming a certified SME Lean professional requires a lot of time and effort regardless of which SME Lean Certification level you are interested in. Luckily, the application process is easy. Applying for a Lean Certification can easily be done via the SME website. An SME Lean certification is an excellent addition to your manufacturing credentials.

The initial requirements for all Lean Certification require interested parties to sign up for the certification program. Once they have confirmation via an online e-notification, they will be advised to register for the Lean Online Review Program to gain enough knowledge for the certification exam.

Depending on the type of certification level, Bronze level exams are approximately 170 questions long; and Silver level and Gold level exams are approximately 150 questions long. All of these exams must be finished in 3 hours.

It is strongly advised to bring reference material that may aid you for the exam in order to pass the certification the first time. The difficulty of exams varies from basic to advanced which is why it is strongly recommended that preparation is needed before taking a certification exam. All certification levels are valid for 3 year before requiring re-certification.

Back to the general lean certification page.

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