Project management is a complex, ever-evolving forum of methodologies, principles, and best practices. So, it's little wonder why Project Management Institute (PMI®) asserts that continuing education is an essential part of a project manager's professional development. Consequently, PMI requires certain post-exam educational standards be met in order to maintain certification status. These requirements, known as Professional Development Units (PDUs), may seem ill-defined at first, but in this article we'll attempt to answer questions about the quantity, frequency, and availability of PDUs necessary to maintain your certification.
Do I need PDUs?
Currently, 5 of the 8 PMI certifications require Professional Development Units in each 3-year cycle. This excludes the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®, which requires you to re-exam every 5 years, the OPM3® Professional Certification, which requires renewal every year, and the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM, which is still in beta testing and does not require any maintenance at this time. The remaining certifications require PDUs every 3 years as follows:
-Project Management Professional (PMP)® - 60 PDUs
-Program Management Professional (PgMP)® - 60 PDUs
-PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® - 30 PDUs in Agile principles and practices
-PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® - 30 PDUs in project risk management
-PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® - 30 PDUs in project scheduling
What Constitutes a PDU?
PMI divides each acceptable learning activity into one of six categories. The first three categories involve direct professional education and can be utilized without limit to satisfy PDU requirements. The latter categories result from giving back to the project management community and are subject to limitation. Up to 45 PDUs acquired from categories D-F may be applied toward PMP and PgMP certification maintenance and up to 20 such PDUs may be applied toward PMI-SP and PMI-RMP maintenance. Below is a brief description of each category.
-Category A: Courses offered by PMI's Chapters, Communities, and Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)
-Category B: Continuing Education (formal education from non-PMI sources)
-Category C: Self-Directed Learning
-Category D: Creating New Project Management Knowledge - this includes authorship, course development, and formal presentations, but must be related to your credential area of expertise
-Category E: Volunteer Service
-Category F: Working as a Professional in Project Management - If you work in a project management role for at least 6 out of every 12 months, this will satisfy part of your certification requirement (up to 15 PDUs for PMP and PgMP and up to 7.5 PDUs for PMI-SP and PMI-RP)
For a complete list of PDU categories, rules associated with each category, and details on required documentation, consult PMI's PDU Category Structure and Policies page.
Where can I get my PDUs?
PDUs can be scooped up in a variety of ways: courses from corporate training departments, professional associations, government agencies, and PMI chapters; authorship of textbooks, peer-reviewed articles, non-peer-reviewed articles, and electronic newsletters; blog creation, podcast creation/delivery, and volunteering.
Of course, we would be remiss not to mention our own PDU service, Club PDU. As a PMI Registered Education Provider, Project Management Academy® (PMA®) provides online continuing education courses. The flexibility of Club PDU allows a student to tailor a training program specific to their personal interest and career needs. Each PDU we offer qualifies under category A of the PMI standards for continuing education. Admittedly, we may be a little biased, so head to Club PDU to see for yourself.
Although the task of maintaining your PMI certification may seem daunting at first, project managers typically agree that a continuing education is vital to keep pace in such a dynamic field. With so many opportunities available to obtain PDUs, you should have no trouble choosing a continuing education program that meets your intended curriculum.