True Cost of Free PDU

Earn Free PDUs for PMI Certification Renewal

Once you have earned a certification from Project Management Institute® (PMI), the clock starts ticking. You need to start thinking about earning Professional Development Units (PDUs). These are continuing education activities, including directed-learning courses and self-directed activities, and they are required to keep your certification active. They also keep your leadership and project skills up to date with industry standards. As you consider your options (whether free or paid) for accumulating required PDU credits, remember that one PDU equals one hour of activity – which can be applied towards your PMI Certification renewal (ex. PMP Certification).

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PMI PDU Requirements

Let’s look at the PDU requirements for the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI’s most popular certification. First, you will need 60 PDUs within three years. Of those credits, 35 must be in the Education category. In addition, within Education, you’ll need a minimum of 8 PDUs for each skill set in The PMI Talent Triangle® (see below). Note that these requirements are specific to the PMP certification; other certifications may have different requirements.

PDU Requirements for PMI Certification Renewal
Minimum/Maximum PDU Requirements for PMI Certification Renewal

We understand that getting your certificate was a considerable financial investment. The PMP certification exam alone costs $405-$555, depending on PMI membership status. So, you may be wondering, “Is there a way to earn PMP PDU credits for free?” The answer is, yes! Let’s look at how.

How to Earn Free PDUs

There are several ways you can earn free PDUs. Most importantly, you want to first make sure that PMI will approve them. One way to ensure that your professional development efforts will be recognized by PMI is to either get them through PMI directly or partner with a reputable provider of PDU-earning opportunities, such as an Authorized Training Providers (ATP). It’s always a good idea to check PMI’s Authorized Training Partner (ATP) database to make sure your provider is listed. Note that Project Management Academy is a Premier ATP.

Attend an Event

A PMI event lets you mingle and share ideas with fellow PMs. It’s a great place to make connections and learn from experts. Some of these events may have a cost associated with them or they may be free to members. Examples of events that count as PDUs include:

  • Conferences
  • Symposiums
  • Exhibitions

PMI’s website is a great place to learn about PDU-earning events. As a PMP credential holder, you likely receive notice of some of these events. Attending PMI events and participating in PMI activities will always be a safe bet for earning PDUs – no worries about those getting approved.

Attend a Webinar

PMI has over 1000 free webinars and podcasts that you can partake in. Listen to experts talk about their PM experiences or get advice on career advancement. Before you sign up for a webinar or podcast, you will be able to see the number of PDUs you’ll earn in the description of the event. Bonus: For those who link their credentials to their ProjectManagement.com account, PDU credits will be automatically logged once you’ve finished the webinar.

Organizations other than PMI also have opportunities for free PDUs. In particular, PMI Authorized Training Partners, like Project Management Academy, make great PDU-earning partners. Attending live webinars and listening to recorded webinars or podcasts are available from many ATPs.

Contribute to a Wiki or Discussion Board

Are you great at explaining concepts and ideas to others? Or maybe you want to discuss agile project management methods with PM colleagues. Perhaps you’re looking to create a podcast or webinar and need to bounce ideas off people. Contributions to a wiki or discussion board can earn you PMP PDU credits for free. Every hour you spend working on the wiki entry or hosting a discussion counts as one PDU.

Create a Podcast or Webinar

Got a topic that you want to share with the PM community? You can create a podcast or pitch an idea for a webinar. Podcasts are particularly great for people who want to hear conversations with an expert. You can even turn that podcast into a webinar with graphics and other visual media.

Write an Article or Blog Post

If presenting isn’t your thing, you can share ideas by writing an article or blog post. Submit a proposal to ProjectManagement.com for approval. Remember that article topics must contain new knowledge, so describing an already-known process won’t earn you PDUs. However, sharing your experience with a known process may be considered as would writing about a strategy you created to solve a problem at work.


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Free PDUs vs. Paid PDUs

Free PDU credits are a great way to earn the required PDUs for your PMP certification maintenance. Nevertheless,  most people find that the best way to meet PDU requirements is to take advantage of both free PDUs and paid-for PDUs. The benefit of paying for PDUs relates to quality. Like many things in life, you often get what you pay for. Further, as mentioned, whether free or paid-for, make sure you are investing your time and money in PDUs from a PMI Authorized Training Provider for a couple of reasons:

First, becoming an ATP requires that courses be vetted and meet the requirements from PMI regarding what must be included in order for education hours to qualify for PDUs. That means you will never need to worry that your hours from a class with an ATP will be rejected. Further, if audited, you can be certain that your hours will count.

Second, ATPs are required to update their curriculum regularly to remain consistent with the standards in the discipline and to ensure that their courses are preparing project professionals for the real world – as it is today. Project Management Academy, for example, continuously updates its curriculum to reflect changes in project management practices, and we go through a rigorous process to ensure that our courses are consistent with the guidelines as to what counts for PDUs.

How to Report PDUs – both Free and Paid

Now that your PDU event is over, it’s time to report your PDUs to PMI. You can do that by filing a claim with the PMI Continuing Certification Renewal System (CCRS). All records of your PDUs are stored there. Not sure if you’re close to 60 PDUs? You can log in and review how many credits you have earned and how many you still need to earn, as well as the degree to which each side of the Talent Triangle is satisfied.

Many online or digital media PDUs will be automatically reported if you have linked your credentials to your ProjectManagement.com account. You’ll need to log other types of free PDUs in CCRS manually. You can also report a percentage of a course or activity that is relevant. For example, if you listened to a three-hour podcast, but only two hours were relevant to project management professional development, you would only claim two PDUs (1 hour of activity = 1 PDU).

Reporting education hours when using a PMI Authorized Training Partner, like Project Management Academy, is made easy by receiving a PDU Claim Code. When entering the Claim Code in the CCRS, the hours and Talent Triangle allocation are automatically done for you – all you have to do is submit!

Summary

Like any professional, as a Project Management Professional®, you are required to stay current in your field and keep your knowledge and skills sharp. This requirement not only benefits you directly, but it helps maintain the integrity and value of the PMP certification. Earning PDU credits (whether free or paid) to maintain your PMP or PMI certification may seem daunting after passing your exam, but with so many options PMI makes it easy to find interesting ways to learn and grow professionally. Further, working with an Authorized Training Partner can also help you navigate options and simplify the reporting process.

Upcoming PMP Certification Training – Live & Online Classes

NameDatePlace
PMP Certification TrainingOct 10,11,12,13
8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MAView Details
PMP Certification TrainingDec 5,6,7,8
8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MAView Details
PMP Certification TrainingOct 3-6 & 10-13
5:00pm-9:30pm
Online - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)View Details
PMP Certification Training
Oct 10,11,12,13 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
PMP Certification Training
Dec 5,6,7,8 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
PMP Certification Training
Oct 3-6 & 10-13 5:00pm-9:30pm
Online - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)


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