A whiteboard in a classroomPDUs are Professional Development Units, necessary for maintaining Project Management Institute (PMI)-certified credentials. They are a part of PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program. One PDU is worth one hour of project management training, though there are some exceptions to this rule. PMPs and other PMI credential holders can claim PDUs by visiting PMI’s web site. After logging into the site, in the left hand sidebar there will be an option to claim PDUs for valid credential holders.

In order to maintain your PMI credential you will need to amass a certain number of PDUs within a three year period. The three year period used to start the beginning of the calendar year after the year that you earned your certification (so if you passed your certification in March of 2008, your three year period would start in January of 2009, meaning you’d get an extra nine months to earn PDUs tacked on for free), but this is no longer the case. PMI now states: “Your certification/CCR cycle begins the day you pass the exam and/or multi-rater assessment (for PgMP credential holders) and ends on the same date three years later.”

The number of PDUs credential holders need to earn depends on the certification:

  • PMP (Project Management Professional): 60 PDUs needed
  • PgMP (Program Management Professional): 60 PDUs needed
  • PMI-SP (Scheduling Professional): 30 PDUs needed in the specialized area of project scheduling
  • PMI-RMP (Risk Management Professional): 30 PDUs needed in the specialized area of project risk management
  • CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager): No PDUs necessary, but the CAPM must be renewed by the retaking of the CAPM examination at the end of a five-year cycle.

If you earn more than the required amount of PDUs within your three-year cycle, you can transfer up to 20 PDUs from the last year of your current cycle into the next cycle. If you do not earn the required amount of PDUs within the three year cycle, your credential will expire. According to the PMP Handbook, if this happens your PMI credential will be suspended, during which time you are not permitted to refer to yourself as a holder of the credential in question until the overdue requirements are earned, for up to one year after your three-year expiration date. If you fail to make up those PDUs during this one year suspension you will have to apply to retake your examination, and we all know how expensive and time-consuming that process can be.

PMPs may maintain their credentials when they retire without having to earn PDUs by applying for “retired status”. In order to do so they must be PMP credential holders in good standing for over ten years, and no longer be practicing professional project management.

PMI offers PDUs through its Registered Education Provider (REP) program, which project management trainers can apply to become members of. It has some benefits, but it is very expensive, and not necessary to become a trainer of courses that project managers can take in order to earn PDUs. Similarly, it is not necessary to take courses solely from Registered Education Providers in order to earn PDUs.

A lot of people don’t want to become PMPs because of the cost of PDUs. In fact, there are plenty of ways to get free or inexpensive PDUs, one of which is by volunteering your time and skills as a project manager. I’ll cover other methods in future posts.

This has been a pretty basic overview of PDUs. If you want an even more basic overview of PDUs, you can watch this video from PMI, which I believe may have actually been delivered by a robot.