An overview of PMI’s new PDU category structure

PMI Today, February 2011

Important note: As of the fall of 2015, PMI has changed the requirements for the maximum and minimum number of PDUs that may be earned in the various PDU categories. For information about these changes, please check out this post.

In the February issue of PMI Today the Project Management Institute (PMI) introduced its new structure of their Professional Development Unit (PDU) categories to its members that came into effect on March 1, 2011. From that point onward PMP certified project managers claiming PDUs need to claim the PDUs they earn according to this new structure.

The new structure is not so different from the old, but as with a lot of PMI’s overhauled systems the new version does seem to be more streamlined than before, and makes it easier for project managers to earn and report PDUs. PMI overhauled the system based on feedback from a formal study conducted with PMI credential holders, PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s) and project management community leaders and, according to the Customer Care FAQ, the changes have so far been positively received (in the survey, 82% were either satisfied or very satisfied with the new categories).

Here are some of the highlights of the new system.

What’s changed?

  • The new category structure has been simplified; the number of categories has been reduced from 18 to 6. In addition, categories are now indicated by letters rather than numbers; for example, the category for Enhancing the Project Management Profession is now Category E instead of Category 5.
  • All categories now use the rule that one hour of activity is now worth one PDU (in-class sessions, volunteering, or attending PMI meetings, for example).
  • Categories have been expanded to include Web 2.0 learning opportunities (opportunities that include information sharing and collaboration over the Internet).
  • Certain categories have limits that require all credential holders to pursue some project management continuing education as part of their credential maintenance (so you can’t earn all of your PDUs by volunteering; for example – you will need to earn at least some with continuing education.

What hasn’t changed?

  • The three-year renewal cycle and number of PDUs required to maintain the credential remains at 60 PDUs for PMP certification holders.
  • The re-certification fee structure for PMI credentials has not changed.

What does the new structure look like?

The new structure is comprised of the following six categories.

Education Categories:

For the following categories project managers can earn one PDU per one hour of class or study.

  • Category A: Courses offered by PMI’s R.E.P.s or Chapters and Communities
  • Category B: Continuing education
  • Category C: Self-directed learning
Giving Back to the Profession Categories:

Certification holders can earn a total of 45 PDUs in the combined Giving Back to the Profession categories.

  • Category D: Creating new project management knowledge (one PDU per one hour spent creating or delivering project management knowledge)
  • Category E: Volunteer service (one PDU per one hour of service)
  • Category F: Working as a professional in project management (PMPs can earn five PDUs for working six out of twelve months as a project manager).

How does the new structure compare to the old?

With the release of the new PDU category structure PMI issued a helpful comparison chart showing the difference between the new category structure and the old (it’s on page six of this document).

So far I really like the new PDU category structure. In a previous post about volunteering for PDUs I mentioned that the amount of PDUs you can earn for volunteering (at your local PMI chapter or at your favorite nonprofit or charity organization, for example) has been increased from 20 to 45 total PDUs. That’s great news for those of us who enjoy being active in our communities!

If you’re a PMP certification holder (or PgMP, CAPM or otherwise), good luck with the new structure! And please let me know in a comment if you have any questions or opinions about the new system.

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