Lean Certification

In general, Lean certification is rarely required to get a job implementing Lean at a company. Toyota does not require or offer any certifications in their company, so many have argued that it doesn’t make sense to offer one either.

What is required is practical experience implementing lean in an organization, which is how it should be. If you want help getting some experience, I would first start by learning about Lean.

Next, consider implementing ideas within your own work processes, at home in your garage/kitchen/storage areas, or with a local nonprofit or trade association.

Our view on certification is that it does provide some information about how much knowledge or experienced someone has obtained, so we are not opposed to a certification in Lean.

I have a “Lean Master” certification through Rockwell Collins, and I teach classes for 6sigma.US that offers a Lean Agent certification. I feel my certification was worth the effort, to ensure that I understood the concepts fully. The incentive of a certification helps challenge the student to apply what they learn to a real problem, which can help motivate them to continue. Too often, people are trained, but never get around to trying out what they learned, which means the training could be considered a waste of time.

That being said, relying on certifications to assess the ability of someone to implement Lean (or Six Sigma) is a bad idea. Like I mentioned earlier, knowing the content is one thing, but more importantly is the amount of real-world experience you have (both successes and failures).

Aside from 6sigma.US (view upcoming classes), there are a few other Lean certification options you could consider:

  • Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Lean Certification in partnership with AME and the Shingo Institute, have developed a Bronze, Silver and Gold level certification. Learn more >>>
  • Lean Competency System was developed at Cardiff University and offers seven levels of competency covering the entire spectrum of lean knowledge and application. Learn more >>>

Finally, you might see some combined “Lean Six Sigma” certifications while surfing the web. Most of these certifications are based on the traditional Six Sigma certification levels, but have recently included some level of Lean training into their program. Our view is that most of these certifications are primarily Six Sigma, not a true blended approach or certification.

Can I get a free Lean certification?

  • We offer some free Lean training as part of our “Earth Belt” certification program (which also is free), but that is not equivalent to any traditional Lean or Six Sigma certification, and must be applied to environmental problems. The certifications listed above require some cost (usually a couple hundred dollars). Someone has to recover the costs of developing an exam and maintaining it. Others require resources to review and certify events and projects, so I don’t think anyone will offer certification for free in the future.

If you have questions about certification, feel free to contact us >>>

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