Options for Earning PMI-Required PDUs

Maintaining one’s Project Management Institute (PMI)’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential includes documentation of PDU (professional development unit) hours. With a 3-year cycle of 60 PMI-approved PDU hours to maintain PMP credentials, understanding PMI’s PDU requirements is a necessity.

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What is a PDU and how many do I need?

Before you spend hours or money on what you hope is PMP PDU training, you should know how PMI defines a PDU. PMI.org provides this description of professional development units (PDU):

“Professional Development Units (PDUs) are one-hour blocks of time that you spend learning, teaching others, or volunteering. By accumulating and tracking these over a three-year period you can maintain your certification status with PMI.” 

Each PMI certification has PDU hours required which means you can plan your professional development as a project.  Access the PMI Certification Requirement online handbook for PMP certification specifics such as the PDU chart shown here:

CertificationCertification CycleTotal PDUs RequiredEducation Minimum PDUsGiving Back Maximum PDUs
PMP3 Years603525
PgMP3 Years603525
PfMP3 Years603525
PMI-PBA3 Years603525
PMI-ACP3 Years301812
PMI-RMP3 Years301812
PMI-SP3 Years301812
CAPM3 Years1596
PDU Requirements for PMI Certification Renewal

For this article, we focus on the PDU requirements set by PMI specifically for the PMP credential. However, please note that taking qualifying classes for other PMI certifications can be used as PDUs for existing certifications!  This allows you to take a qualifying class, sit for that certification, and report the PDUs to maintain your existing certifications! 

Once you have earned a passing score for the project management professional exam, the PDU requirements shift to include not only 35 PDU for education but 25 PDU giving back hours, for a total of 60 PDU in 3-year cycles. Thus, an understanding PDUs is required to keep a PMP credential valid.

60 PDUs are Required for Renewing Your PMI Certification
Source: https://www.pmi.org/certifications/certification-resources/maintain/requirements

For the most current PMI PDU requirements, review the information provided online at PMI.org.

Two PDU categories

PDU hours can be earned using free training, online education, reading, and volunteer activity time.

Giving Back PDU

Project management is constantly evolving in an attempt to best meet the business requirements of a global economy. One way the PMI encourages engagement in the profession and the sharing of best practices is through the PDU category giving back. PMI provides this summary of the “Giving Back” PDU category:

“Giving Back to the Profession is a unique opportunity for you to expand your knowledge and skills while growing both personally and professionally. Although not required for recertification, earning Giving Back PDUs is a great way to expand your horizons.”

PMI allows project management credential holders to maintain their status by earning only Education PDUs or by combining them with Giving Back PDUs. The three-year total must be 60 PDU hours and the distribution of that time must fit preset criteria and limits. 

Education PDU

The 35 PDU requirement for PMP recertification is where  PMP holders typically focus their initial efforts. Why a 35 PDU requirement? PMI shares this 35 PDU for PMP requirement insight:

“Continuing education is at the core of your PMI certification. The world of project, program and portfolio management and its related disciplines is constantly changing and evolving. It’s important for you to keep on top of the latest developments to remain relevant in the ever-changing marketplace.”

The education PDU category is further defined through the PMI Talent Triangle as a means to ensure a balance of skills earned in the project management profession.

Earn your 35 PDUs for maintaining your PMP within the PMI Talent Triangle

The Talent Triangle Demonstrates the PMI PDU Requirements
The Talent Triangle Demonstrates the PMI PDU Requirements

The PMI Talent Triangle lays out categories for project management education and training: (1) Ways of Working, (2) Power Skills, and (3) Business Acumen.

Once a passing exam score is achieved, within 3-year cycles the project manager must submit information for 35 PDU for PMP online via the PMI portal to maintain credential status. For credential maintenance, the 35 PDU for PMP education hours must fulfill PMI Talent Triangle hour requirements.

Education PDU Category 1: Ways of Working

The Ways of Working category encompasses what is considered domain expertise, certification-specific training. The PMI Talent Triangle flyer lists these topic examples:

  • agile and hyper agile
  • data gathering and modeling
  • earned value management
  • governance
  • transformation
  • performance management
  • requirements management and traceability
  • risk management
  • schedule management
  • scope management
  • time, budget, and cost estimation

Education PDU Category 2: Power Skills

The second education PDU category is leadership, described by the PMI as the competency in guiding and motivation. The PMI Talent Triangle flyer lists these topic examples:

  • brainstorming
  • coaching
  • mentoring
  • conflict management
  • emotional intelligence
  • influencing
  • interpersonal skills
  • active listening
  • negotiation
  • problem-solving
  • teamwork

Education Category 3: Business Acumen

The third education PDU category is Business Acumen, described by the PMI as the business oriented skills. The PMI Talent Triangle flyer lists these topic examples:

  • benefits management and realization
  • business models and structures
  • competitive analysis
  • customer relationship and satisfaction
  • industry domain knowledge
  • legal and regulatory compliance
  • market awareness
  • function-specific knowledge
  • strategic planning, analysis, alignment

Studying for the PMP Exam?

How to earn PDUs for Education

As indicated by the examples provided in the PMI Talent Triangle flyer, there are many training topics to explore the 35 educational PDU requirements. Course instructors are a great resource for knowing which category a class or education experience would qualify.

Types of Education PDUs

Within the PMI’s online Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program, there are tools to submit PDU requests for review. The CCR online portal states that for education PDUs complete “Learning activities that allow you to broaden your knowledge in one of the PMI Talent Triangle skill areas.” An easy way to know the validity of a training or education opportunity for PDU is if there is a PMI-authorized training company and/or instructor.

  • course or training
  • organization meetings
  • online or digital media
  • reading
  • informal learning

Education PDUs provide a great opportunity to attain additional PMI certifications!  If you take a qualifying class, you can claim the Education PDUs toward maintaining your current certification AND qualify to test for a new certification.  If you choose to take your course through a PMI authorized training provider like PMA, you can rest assured that your training is properly aligned with the Talent Triangle. 

Talent Triangle and hour requirements for Education PDUs

For PMP certification maintenance, project managers must submit via the PMI’s CCR online portal, information for each education activity fulfilling these Talent Triangle requirements:

  • Ways of Working = 8 hours minimum
  • Power Skills = 8 hours minimum
  • Business Acumen = 8 hours minimum

Minimum education PDUs required

The combined minimum total of PDU for the education category is 35. Once the minimum is reached for each of the three PMI Talent Triangle categories, the project management certification holder can decide which area the remaining PDU hours can be earned.

Maximum education PDUs required

Education is a primary value of the PMI, and as such, there is no maximum or limit to work completed to advance knowledge or the profession.

How to earn PDUs for Giving Back

As with PDU for Education, there are many ways to collect your PDU Giving Back hours but it is important to know what will and will not qualify. The Giving Back PDUs are not a requirement of the PMP exam application but are part of the PMP certification maintenance. All education and giving back PDUs must be submitted via the PMI CCR online portal with the best practice of submitting as soon as possible after the activity is completed.

Types of Giving Back PDUs

The PMI provides this description of their Giving Back PDU category: “Activities that enable you to share and apply your knowledge and skills as a means to contribute to and help build the profession.” For some, the giving back category is more than a way to earn PDUs but is a powerful method to develop professional networks and contribute back to the profession. Activities that the PMI will accept for Giving Back PDU submissions:

  • work as a practitioner
  • create content
  • give a presentation
  • share knowledge, mentoring
  • PMI volunteer activity

Talent Triangle and hour requirements for Giving Back PDUs

The Giving Back PDU category does not use the PMI Talent Triangle. The Giving Back hours submitted to the PMI to be considered for PDU credits must align with project management skills, topics, and communities.

Maximum PDUs required (No Minimum)

It does not apply to the PMP exam application, but for PMP credential holders, PMI has a 25 PDU maximum for PMP certification maintenance (or “recredentialing”) cycles. As such, there is no minimum PDU requirement for the Giving Back category.

Options for earning PDUs for recertification

Getting the passing score on your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is a milestone! It is also one step in your ongoing professional development work. To maintain your PMP credential, PMI® requires 60 PDU total hours in 3-year cycles with a combination of a minimum of 35 PDU Education (using Talent Triangle) hours and a maximum of 25 PDU Giving Back hours.

Option 1: Earn All PMI required PDUs in Education

It is important to know what PMI considers eligible for PMP PDUs. One option is to use the PMITalent Triangle PDU distribution requirements as the foundation, then reach the total of 60 PDUs with a combination of qualifying education PDU hours that meet your professional needs in that cycle. All 60 of the PDU hours in the renewal cycle can be from the education category as long as the minimum requirement for the three Talent Triangle topics is met.

Option 2: Earn some PDUs in Education, then earn your remaining PDUs in Giving Back

PDU hours can be earned using free training, online education, and volunteer activity time. Do you lead PMI chapter meetings? Do you mentor newer project managers within your company? Giving back is about making meaningful contributions to the field of project management. For some in project management, once the education PDU hours in the required Talent Triangle categories have been completed, earning the maximum of 25 Giving Back PDUs can be very fulfilling. 

PDUs and ethics

No matter what category of PDU is being pursued, the validity of the PDU claim is guided by the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Project Management which states:

“PMI members have determined that honesty, responsibility, respect and fairness are the values that drive ethical conduct for the project management profession. PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct applies those values to the real-life practice of project management, where the best outcome is the most ethical one. All PMI members, volunteers, certification holders and certification applicants must comply with the Code.”

That high ethical standard applies not only to the leadership and practice of project management but also to the work and effort to earn and maintain any PMI credential. When you log the hours you spent doing your “PMP PDU” training into the PMI.org website within the PMI talent triangle categories, you are giving your word that the work was completed as submitted. Violation of that ethics code can result in rescinding of your PMI credential and/or other PMI fines or other professional consequences.


Once you have achieved the PMP Certification, develop a plan to ensure you maintain your credentials through PDUs.  There are a variety of delivery options, so pick the combination that is most effective for you!

  • Know the definitions of PDU categories including minimum/maximum hours
  • Leverage training with instructors authorized by PMI and official PMP materials
  • Keeping PMI ethics in mind in all efforts
  • Maintain documentation for potential PMI audits of PDU submissions
  • Submit PDU claims as soon as possible after the completion of an activity

With the variety of PDU-eligible topics, training, and activities,  recertifying your PMP certification (60 PDUs every 3 years) can be a rewarding and beneficial professional practice for the project manager.

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