What are PDUs?

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.

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6 Responses to “What are PDUs?”

  1. HI Brian,
    I read this and your other article on Is it worth getting PMP Certified, awesome work and great help.

    I am thinking of doing PMP in an year, i have 5 years of experience as a technical consultant in ERP, i have also been configuration controller, and created documents when my comapny was getting CMMI Level certification, it covered all the processes, project scheduling, risk management, contingency plans, resource allocation MOM tracking, and almost all the document related to project mangement, will this experience count in PMP?
    also how to earn the PDU’s? please do tell that, also i have not been a project manager but lead a team and also been part of almost all the project phases. Hope that counts when i go for giving my PMP certifications.
    and i would like to have any suggestion that might help me with my aim of being a project manger, a good one 🙂

    • Hello Rohit,

      Many thanks for the kind feedback about the articles I have written on this site – I appreciate it.

      It sounds like you have some very good education and experience that you have amassed in your career over the years. I do think that this experience will count toward your PMP application… you must figure out what sorts of project management experience you have earned during that time; I think that you will discover that you have attained quite a sizable amount. Remember to pass those hours past your previous employers and ask them to vouch for your having completed those hours of project management work in case you face an application audit by PMI.

      Regarding PDUs, you will need to already be a PMP certified project manager in order to earn PDUs, so any experience or education that you earned before you became a certified PMP will not count toward your PDU requirement.

      Best of luck with your aim to become a good project manager – that is a worthy goal.

  2. Hi Brian,

    I have read your article regarding PMP certification. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I am thinking to do PMP. I have total 4 years of experience into Banking and financial services. Majorly into operations which covers reconciliation, research, reporting, accounting, quality checks. Will this experience count in PMP?
    Please advise.

    • Hello Bhavesh,

      The experience that you need in order to apply to take the PMP exam includes professional work experience leading and directing projects. So even if you were not technically a project manager, if you were managing projects in your position in finance, then that is experience that PMI would count. Note that you’d want to have work experience in all five PMI process groups.

      Best of luck to you with your career.

  3. Hello Brian,

    Thanks for sharing your articles and knowledge on PMP certification processes. i have gone through many of them and really improvised my thoughts about PMP certification.
    Basically I am Aerospace Grad having 8 years of experience which includes 3 years of international experience in France. I have also completed my MBA in Project Management externally.
    I am working as Lead Engineer and I am involved in Onsite & Offshore team development and coordination activity from past 3-4 years. I am basically deals with Project estimation, approval ,negotiation with customer ,then project management activities like resource management,project initiation,time estimation, risk involved in project, conducting PRM meetings and discussion on project process improvident plans with the customer & finally project execution with quality.
    In short I am having experience in the project management activities but I don’t have position as Project Manager.
    Share your views and suggestion on whether I need to apply for PMP certification or need to wait for some more time.
    Thank you so much for guiding & considering my thoughts in advance.

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About the Author


Website: Brian Crawford
I'm a Canadian and British dual citizen with an internationally-focused American MBA and an MS in International Project Management from a French business school. I am PMP, ScrumMaster, and ITIL Foundation certified. I'm particularly into travel, writing, and learning about different languages and cultures.