Continuing Education: Improving Your Project Management Skills

There is no limit to where you can apply project management skills. Construction, manufacturing, information technology, operations, finance, insurance, and health care – to name a few – are filled with professionals using project management skills in their day-to-day work regardless of formal titles. Some may be obtaining formal certification credits (e.g., PDUs, CPEs, or CEU) while others are preparing to advance their career with skill enhancement, but one point remains true: Project management skills benefit all professionals.


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Types of skills in Project Management

Whether or not you have “project manager” as a job title, if you have responsibilities around leading teams, planning work, managing risk, or problem-solving, you are practicing project management. The career site GlassDoor states that project management skills include communication, interpersonal skills, motivational skills, and organization. Those skills are needed for thousands of jobs that do not have “project manager” in the title. Consider how these project management skills apply to your work:

  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Scheduling and Time Management
  • Leadership
  • Technical Expertise
  • Risk Management
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

When you complete formal training in project management skills, you can earn recertification credits while enhancing your resume.

What is the difference between a CEU, PDU, and CPE?

Project management skills have broad applications, but it is important to know professional organizations use specific terms for measuring and defining credits for their certifications. In some instances, there is a conversion across the professional credit systems, but not always. It is essential to know what credits your certification requires (PDU vs CPE) and if it is possible to convert training associated between credit types (CPE to PDU, for example).

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

A “CEU” is a “Continuing Education Unit” used to measure participation in an authorized training program aligned with the licensing managed by a verifiable professional organization.

For example, in the U.S., nurses must complete a certain number of annual CEU credits to keep their license in the state where they provide health care services. Although CEU is used across industries, each certification or license has its own CEU hour/renewal requirements.

Professional Development Units (PDUs)

Project Management Institute (PMI) defines professional development units (PDUs) as: one-hour blocks of time you spend learning, teaching others, or volunteering.” Review the PMI Certification Requirements Handbook for specific PMI certification PDU requirements, including the Project Management Professional (PMP). PMI defines time conversion to a PDU value as 1-hour of learning, teaching, or volunteering = 1 PDU hour. Training provided by a PMI Authorized Training Partner (ATP) is an easy way to ensure your education efforts will count towards PDU credits applied to PMI certifications.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) is a system used to measure and track the training completed by professionals within an industry or specific field. Most commonly, the CPE is associated with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA®) for accounting certifications. However, other professional organizations may also use “CPE” for training or volunteer work. For example, within the IT profession, CPE credits may be part of certifications such as CompTIAA+ Technician or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).  

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PDU vs CPE

PDU vs CPE

Whereas CEUs and CPEs can broadly signal professional training and volunteer efforts aligned to certification status in many industries, PDU credits are specific to PMI and their project management certifications. Some training may say in the description if there is a PDU vs CPE equivalent or conversion. But in other cases, the professionals will need to submit the time of training measured in CPE or CEU credits in the form of PDU credits when applied to PMI certifications.

There is not a universal conversion of PDU to CPE or CEU as the organization issuing a certification will set their measurement of hours spent to credits earned.

Can PDU credits be applied towards other certifications?

CEU or CPE credits are used to maintain professional certifications in diverse industries such as accounting (CPA), financial planner (CFP), architecture (LEED AP Building Design and Construction), or health insurance (HIA). Frequently, professionals in these fields also earn Project Management certifications and certifications in their primary field due to the complementary nature of their skills.

However, there are no guarantees that courses with a CPE or CEU credit will convert or apply to PMI’s PDU credit. The best way to maximize the continuing education credit potential of training is to review its content to determine what within it aligns with PMI’s certification PDU requirements. The subject of the course or education has a direct impact on the possibility of applying the time across different and/or multiple professional certifications.

Project Management courses

Professionals in many industries learn about project management without having to go through the full Project Management certification process. Courses like Project Management Fundamentals give you valuable insight into mitigating risk, improving team communications, and using processes to manage workflows. You can build a foundation for learning from Project Management courses before you have a PMI certification; in some cases, if you later pursue a PMI certification, those foundational courses can be incorporated into your application.

Conclusion

Rather than thinking of continuing education as CEU vs CPE, or PDU vs CPE, take the time to understand a certification’s requirements: what are the education credit units used, how can you earn them, and how are they used to maintain the certification. From there, evaluate courses and training for the potential to earn credit for one or more certifications. Project Management skills are often required or embedded in professional certifications beyond PMI. You can maximize your training time across certifications while also growing your skillset when you take the time to understand what the difference between continuing education credits is.

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Megan Bell
Megan Bell
Project Manager & Writer at Project Management Academy | + posts
Megan Bell