Getting your PMP® isn’t the end of your professional learning. In fact, it’s just the beginning. For all PMI certifications except the CAPM® you need to keep your skills up to date by earning professional development units (which you’ll hear called PDUs). PMI has a Continuing Certification Requirements program (which you’ll hear called the CCR program) which is designed to help you keep abreast of current trends and ensure that your skills stay relevant.
One of the questions that experienced project managers hear a lot is, “How do I earn PDUs?” That’s quickly followed by, “Wow, PDUs are really expensive!”
Actually, they don’t have to be. The CCR program gives you plenty of opportunities to earn PDUs for free, and you can even boost your PDU total by earning them while you do your day job. Let me show you how.
Find the Right PDUs
Your first point of call should be the CCR handbook. Get the latest one on the CCR pages of the PMI website.
There are two main areas where you can earn PDUs:
• Education: learning opportunities where you develop your technical, interpersonal or business management skills.
• Giving back to the profession: sharing and using your knowledge to help others and contribute to supporting project management as a discipline.
Depending on your credential there are different CCR requirements. For the rest of this article we’ll be talking about the requirements and opportunities for PMPs. Check the handbook for the criteria for other certifications.
PMPs need to earn a minimum of 35 education PDUs and a maximum of 25 giving back PDUs over a three-year period. This is where it starts to get more detailed. Education PDUs are broken down to cover the different areas of the PMI Talent Triangle and you must earn 8 technical project management, 8 leaderships and 8 strategic and business management PDUs (the rest can come from any domain).
Earning Education PDUs at Work
Earning education PDUs is really where practitioners start to incur costs, so given that the education PDUs are compulsory it’s worth taking any training on offer through your company as its highly likely you can count it towards your PDU total. Both classroom and online training courses count towards your education PDU total. One hour of instruction equals 1 PDU, so a day-long course is a quick way to hit your total PDU requirement for one aspect of the Talent Triangle.
You can also earn education PDUs through informal learning. Reading, as long as it is relevant to your professional role and your certification, and you keep notes of what you learned, counts towards your total. Ask your PMO if they have any books you can read on project management topics, or borrow from your colleagues.
Lunch and learn and other informal training sessions also count, so find out what your PMO is organizing and take all the opportunities open to you.
For both these informal methods, 1 hour of learning counts as 1 PDU.
Earning Giving Back PDUs at Work
There are some easy PDUs to claim here. If you are employed in a project role and can prove that with your employment contract and job description, you can claim 8 PDUs per cycle.
Why? Working as a project manager lets you apply the skills you learned while doing your PMP training. You are improving your skills and technical knowledge through doing the job, and that should be recognized.
There are other ways to earn PDUs through giving back to the profession, some of which you can do through your day job.
“Content” is defined as “knowledge resources for use by practitioners and the public at large.” In your workplace, this could mean preparing a lunch and learn training session for your colleagues or putting together a training webinar. It also includes writing articles for your internal staff magazines, intranet sites or blogs, as long as these are about areas that relate to project management specifically and not simply news blasts about your project’s progress.
You’ll have to keep copies of the publications or training materials for audit purposes and you can claim 1 PDU per hour spent creating content.
Giving a presentation
Project managers have to give presentations all the time, and you might have the opportunity to speak about project management in a formal setting. For example, sharing your PMP journey with a group of potential PMPs or junior project managers within your company.
Your presentation serves as your evidence and for every hour you present you can claim 1 PDU.
Coaching or mentoring
Many businesses have formal and informal mentoring agreements set up between staff members and some have coaching arrangements too. If you volunteer your time as a mentor to a junior project manager, even in an informal capacity, you can count this towards your PDU activity.
You’ll have to keep copies of any mentoring meeting notes and the dates of your sessions as evidence, and you can claim 1 PDU per hour mentoring or coaching.
Get Organized To Get Ahead
Earning PDUs while you work is possible but it takes some time to get organized. PMPs need to earn 60 PDUs every three years. If you are going to leave your PDU requirement to the last minute then you are making it hard for yourself to get them completed and evidenced quickly enough.
Plan out your PDU work and learning now so that you don’t have a big rush towards the end of your recertification process. Now you know what sort of activities count towards your PDU total you can think about how you are going to spread these evenly across the next three years and the different requirement areas.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do this, so as long as you start thinking now you’ll save yourself a lot of time when your recertification comes around and be able to integrate earning your PDUs easily into how you do your day job.