Keeping Your PMI® Certification Fresh: A Tutorial on PDUs

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 a 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 glance. In this article we’ll attempt to answer your questions about the quantity, frequency, and availability of PDUs necessary to maintain your certification.

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Do I need PDUs?

Currently, 7 of the 8 PMI® certifications require a certain number of Professional Development Units in each 3-year cycle. This excludes the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®, which requires you to re-exam after 5 years. The remaining certifications require PDUs as follows:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)® – 60 PDUs
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)® – 60 PDUs
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® – 60 PDUs
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® – 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?

A PDU can be earned in two distinct categories of Education and Giving Back to the Project Management Profession.  PMI has determined, for those certifications which require 60 hours for maintenance over 3 years, a minimum of 35 hours need to come from the Education category.  Certification only needing 30 hours for renewal only need to obtain a minimum of 18 Education PDUs.  However, they also have instituted a maximum of 25 Giving Back PDU hours (for the 60 PDU credentials) and a 12 hour Giving Back PDU maximum for people maintaining the other PMI certifications.

Education PDUs

So, what exactly are Education and Giving Back to the Profession PDU hours?  Education hours can be obtained in a variety of ways and require students to maintain documentation of the activities in case of an audit by PMI.  Here are a few listed in the PMI Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Handbook:

Instructor-led Courses or Trainings:  training offered by a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P), PMI Chapter, or other formal education institutions such as colleges or universities. 1 hour of instruction equals 1 PDU.

Organizational Meetings:  professional meetings which include an opportunity to learn about topics related to the project management profession. May be limited to 1-2 PDUs per renewal cycle.

Various Online Educational Content:  webinars, videos, and other content intended to share educational information with professionals in an online or digital medium.

Education hours can be used to satisfy all the PDU hours required to maintain your PMI certifications, but there is another component which must be considered with this category.  In 2016, the PMI Talent Triangle® was introduced which requires any Education PDUs to be directly tied to one of three different skills groups:  Technical, Leadership and Strategic and Business Management.  At a minimum, credential holders must record 8 PDUs in each of these three skill areas, which PMI has determined are critical for Project Managers.  Once you have achieved the 24 hour minimum, Education PDUs may be earned in any of the three categories.

Giving Back PDU

This category of PDU is more broad and includes activities such as actively working in the project management profession and giving presentations which highlight content relevant to other practicing project managers.  It also includes creating content like blog articles, books, or webinars for consumption by other professionals.  As stated previously, PMI has instituted a maximum number of PDUs which can be claimed in a given renewal period.

Where can I get my PDUs?

Of course, we would be remiss not to mention our own PDU service, Club PDU®. As a PMI R.E.P., Project Management Academy (PMA®) provides virtual continuing education courses. For an initial fee, students are able to subscribe to PMA’s entire library of PDUs and tailor a training program specific to their personal interest and career needs. Each PDU we offer can help you fulfill your Education PDU requirement and all list their associated PMI Talent Triangle® affiliations. 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 will usually agree that a continuing education is vital to keep up in such a dynamic field. With so many opportunities available to obtain PDUs, you shouldn’t have trouble choosing a continuing education program that meets your intended curriculum, either.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO