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All About PDUs: What You Need to Know About Professional Development Units

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RefineM Blog

All About PDUs: What You Need to Know About Professional Development Units

February 20, 2019
Image of a project manager earning PDUs

In the project management community, a common abbreviation is PDU. Go to any Project Management Institute (PMI)® chapter meeting and you’ll hear a lot about PDUs. Research Agile or project management training opportunities on the Web or in your area and you’ll find out even more about PDUs. What are they, who needs them, and how can you get them? This post will answer those questions and more.

1. What is a PDU?

PDU, which stands for Professional Development Unit, is the unit used by PMI in its Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program. They are earned through participating in some kind of learning opportunity related to project management.

Certification holders of the PMP®, PgMP®, PfMP®, and PMI-PBA® have to earn 60 PDUs over a three-year cycle to maintain their certification. The breakdown of PDUs is as follows:

  • A minimum of 35 PDUs must come from Education.
  • Within Education, at least 8 PDUs each have to be earned in Technical Skills, Strategic and Business Management, and Leadership.
  • The remaining 11 PDUs in Education can come from any category.
  • There is now a maximum of 25 PDUs in Giving Back.
  • Within Giving Back, there is a maximum of 8 PDUs for Working as a Professional.
  • There are no maximums for Volunteering or Creating Knowledge, just the 25 PDU overall limit for Giving Back.

Certification holders of the PMI-ACP®, PMI-RMP®, and PMI-SP® have to earn 30 PDUs over a three-year cycle to maintain their certification. The breakdown of PDUs is as follows:

  • A minimum of 18 PDUs must come from Education.
  • Within Education, at least 4 PDUs each have to be earned in Technical Skills, Strategic and Business Management, and Leadership.
  • The remaining 6 PDUs in Education can come from any category.
  • There is now a maximum of 12 PDUs in Giving Back.
  • Within Giving Back, there is a maximum of 4 PDUs for Working as a Professional.
  • There are no maximums for Volunteering or Creating Knowledge, just the 12 PDU overall limit for Giving Back.

The advantage of the CCR program is that you do not have to retest for these certifications, unlike holders of the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® who have to retest every five years.

2. How do I get more PDUs?

The main ways to get PDUs are to:

  • Participate in professional development opportunities in-person or over the Web.
  • Attend PMI chapter meetings, regional events or the Global Congress.
  • Volunteer or create content for PMI.
  • Perform project management.

Professional development opportunities for project managers and Agile practitioners are abundant. PMI offers several opportunities through their own site as well as ProjectManagement.com. PMI also recognizes certified Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s) that provide courses pre-approved for PDUs. You can search R.E.Ps from PMI’s website. As of February 1, 2014, RefineM is a member of PMI’s R.E.P. program; you can learn more about our project management and Agile training courses on our Training page.

To claim a PDU, simply attend a qualifying event and then follow their instructions to access PMI’s page and list the event to claim any PDUs associated with it.

3. How much do I have to spend on PDUs?

A common misconception is that PDUs cost a lot of money to get. While it is true that many boot camps and other professional development courses cost a lot of money for the PDUs attained, there are also many easy ways to get PDUs. Many PMI Communities of Practice (COPs) offer webinars that allow participants to earn PDUs. Several R.E.Ps also offer free webinars. You can also attend RefineM’s Lunch and Learn webinars to earn 1 PDU for free every month just for attending a one-hour webinar over lunch. With the number of options available to earn PDUs, it does not require any strain on the wallet to maintain certification.

With this in mind, do not count out the possibilities of professional development courses. Many of them teach valuable skills and knowledge in a peer setting that allows others to share their experiences with each other. This trait makes them valuable networking opportunities as well as opportunities to learn and grow in your profession. When considering professional development, don’t look just at the PDUs. Look at how the course will help you grow as a professional, and select the courses that make the most sense for you.

In other words, approach your certification with a growth mindset and the PDUs will take care of themselves.

PMI, PMP, PMI-SP, PgMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, and CAPM are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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Refer to the following resources for ways to get PDUs:

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