What is a PDU?
You’ve worked hard to earn your Project Management Institute (PMI)® certification. Now, you need to keep your credentials active by earning PDUs. But wait, what is a PDU and what does PDU stand for? PDU is an acronym for Professional Development Unit, which is a one-hour block of time invested in professional development related to project management. Like many professions, project managers are expected to commit a certain amount of time to staying current with evolving practices in their field and to continue to grow professionally. Requiring PMI credential holders to earn PDUs is one way PMI ensure that their certifications maintain their value.
This post will talk about the different types of PDUs, how you can earn them, and tips to keep in mind for professional development activities. For most PMI certifications, you’ll need to earn PDUs in three-year renewal cycles. However, some PMI certification holders are on a one-year renewal cycle.
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Categories of PDUs
Professional development units are divided into two categories – Education and Giving Back to the Profession. It’s important to be aware of the guidelines for earning PDUs in these two categories. For example, let’s look at the most popular PMI certification, the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. After passing the exam and earning your PMP, you will need to earn 60 PDUs every three years from the date of your exam. For Giving Back PDUs, the maximum is 25 units. However, you must earn a minimum of 35 Education units. In fact, all of your PDUs may be earned in the Education category.
Earning PDUs in the Education category may be done by engaging in a learning activity to increase your knowledge of project management, However, to stay well-rounded, PMI requires that you earn a minimum number of Education PDUs in three skill areas that are referred to as the PMI Talent Triangle. Specifically, you must earn a minimum of eight PDUs in each of the three sides of the Talent Triangle: Ways of Working, Power Skills, and Business Acumen.
- Ways of Working: This learning activity focuses on working methods. For example, predictive, agile, and design thinking are all different ways of working. As a project manager, you need to stay current on the different ways of working that will provide context for your project management activities.
- Power Skills: Once referred to as “soft skills,” it is now widely recognized that these skills are not particularly “soft.” They are difficult and extremely critical to project success. This “people” aspect of managing projects is challenging for most people and it’s crucial to continually develop these interpersonal skills. Investing in skills development areas like collaborative leadership, communication, and empathy that will help your projects run more smoothly.
- Business Acumen: Business acumen learning deals with strategy and the larger business context in which a project is delivered. For example, identifying business and project alignment, understanding the strategic direction of the organization, and how the project is helping the organization achieve its goals help project managers see the broader picture to be good stewards of project resources. Project-related decisions must be made with an understanding of what is ultimately of value to the organization and stakeholders.
Ways to Earn Education PDUs
- PMI courses: PMI offers online courses and instructor-led virtual classes. These courses help certification holders earn units, learn new skills, and work smarter.
- PMI-proved courses: You don’t always have to take classes directly from PMI. Project Management Academy is a Premier Authorized Training Provider (ATP) and our courses are PMI-approved. In fact, we are part of the Educate 360 family of companies that provide courses in various instructor-led and on-demand formats that satisfy PDU Education requirements.
- PMI community events: PMI events include conferences, chapter meetings, special interest group meetings, and more. You may attend any of these events to satisfy PDU requirements.
- Independent reading: Do you enjoy learning on your own? Then you can earn PDUs by reading, researching, and doing other self-directed project management learning activities such as these.
Giving Back PDUs
Giving Back PDUs are earned by providing project management services to the project management community or your workplace. Giving Back PDUs units are also optional, meaning you are not required to earn any in this category.
Ways to Earn Giving Back PDUs
- Publish a paper: Do you like sharing your ideas on project management? Then write a paper, blog post, or article. Submit to the PMI knowledge shelf and get published. You get to share your experience and earn PDUs.
- Volunteer: Do you want to help others? Then, volunteer your services! Reach out to a nonprofit to see what you can do. Mentor someone new to the role of project manager. Volunteer with your local PMI chapter. All of these are PDU-earning options in this category.
- Working as a practitioner: Did you know that you can earn PDUs by performing project management in your professional role? Remember those 25 Giving Back PDUs? Eight of them may be project management activities you are already getting paid to do. If you are claiming units from your job, be prepared to submit the following information:
- Employer name
- Job title
Studying for the PMP Exam?
Once you’ve completed your course or activity, you will need to submit a PDU claim. PMI has a Continuing Certification Renewal System (CCRS) that keeps a record of your units. You will be able to generate a PDU report and get your PDU reviewed and approved.
Some units are approved a lot faster than others. For example, if you take a class through a PMI Authorized Training Partner like Project Management Academy, it will automatically be approved when the claim is submitted. However, approval may take a few days for self-study or non-ATP activities.
In the event that your claim is not approved, you may need to provide more information. Other times, the activity may be rejected by PMI. Logging in to the PMI CCRS with your PMI username and password will enable you to see your dashboard which quickly gives you visibility into the status of your submissions (see image below). If you still have questions, multiple ways of reaching out to PMI for further inquiry are available, including WhatsApp and a chat function on the PMI website.
Remember that part of PMI’s quality control for its certification program is random audits of both certification applications and PDUs earned. Keep track of your PDU activity for 18 months after your renewal cycle ends in the event that you are asked to provide proof of your activities as part of an audit. While an audit is not likely, it is a best practice to be ready in the event that it does.
After you’ve received your project management certificate, the work isn’t over! You will need PDUs to keep your credentials active. Luckily, there are lots of ways to earn PDUs. From classes to volunteer work, you can get units just by being an active member of your project community. As a PMI Premier Authorized Training Partner, Project Management Academy can make it even easier for you to earn what you need to maintain your certification. Check out our Club PDU catalog, where you can find the newest classes and the many options for your professional development and continued status as a PMI project professional!
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