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Certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs) are required to earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) during each three-year certification cycle. In the distant past, many PMPs found this obligation expensive and stressful. However, in recent years some changes to the requirements have made earning PDUs easier, more enjoyable, and in many cases free.

Once you’ve put in the hard work to get your PMP, you don’t want it to lapse! Especially knowing that the median salary for PMP holders in the U.S. is 25% higher than those without PMP certification, according to PMI’s most recent Project Management Salary Survey.

Below, we highlight 10 ways to earn PDUs across two categories that are recognized by the PMI: 1) Education, and 2) Giving back to the profession:

EDUCATION PDUs

Education PDUs are earned for enhancing your knowledge in a way that is relevant to your certification, and to your work in the project management field. Here are 5 ways to earn education PDUs:

  1. Read books, articles, white papers, and blogs to stay informed and support your professional development.
  2. Watch videos and webinars that are related to your professional activities.
  3. Listen to podcasts that are related to your professional activities.
  4. Engage in formal or informal learning, in or out of the workplace, that is related to your professional activities.
  5. Enroll in online on in-person courses offered by the PMI’s inventory of Registered Education Providers (REPs).

During each certification cycle, you must earn a minimum of 35 educational PDUs, and are allowed a maximum of 60 educational PDUs. The formula for calculating PDUs is: 1 PDU per 1 hour of learning.

You need to earn a minimum of 8 educational PDUs across three learning areas, which the PMI refers to as the Talent Triangle: technical project management, strategic and business management, and leadership. Once you have earned 24 PDUs (8 technical project management PDUs, 8 strategic and business management PDUs, and 8 leadership PDUs), you are free to add to your PDU total in any category up to the maximum of 60 allowed per certification cycle.

In addition, you will need to properly document all of the education PDUs that you earn, and have them ready to submit to the PMI if requested. For example, for webinars you should document the date, time, duration, provider, description, and any notes that you take. You should also document the URL and take a screenshot of the landing page/sign-up page.

GIVING BACK TO THE PROFESSION PDUs

Giving back to the profession PDUs recognize your efforts in helping to advance the profession by demonstrating your own competence and professionalism in the field, as well as educating others. Here are 5 ways to earn giving back to the profession PDUs:

  1. Work as a Practitioner

You can earn up to 8 PDUs per cycle by working as a practitioner, such as a project manager, project coordinator, project procurement manager, etc. Make sure that you have an up-to-date and detailed job description that verifies your activities and responsibilities, in the event that it is requested by the PMI.

  1. Create Content

Creating content such as blog posts, articles, webinars, and videos related to the project management field is not just a great way to raise your profile and educate your peers—it’s also an ideal way to earn PDUs at a rate of 1 PDU per 1 hour of activity. Keep copies of all content, in case proof of your efforts are requested by the PMI. Be aware that just having a URL (link) may be problematic, since URLs can change over time and websites can go offline.

  1. Give Presentations

Presentations in your workplace, at your local chapter of the PMI, at a community college or anywhere else (including online) are another rewarding way to share your knowledge and earn PDUs. As with creating content, you can earn 1 PDU for each hour of activity, including preparation and research. Keep copies of all presentations in case they are requested by the PMI.

  1. Volunteer

You can earn 1 PDU for each hour of volunteer (non-compensated) service to non-employer or non-client organizations, including the PMI. In addition, you can volunteer your domain-related services to other not-for-profit organizations.

  1. Coach and Train

If you’ve ever found yourself wistfully reflecting “ah, if I only knew then what I know now…”, then you can help others learn from your experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly—by coaching and training aspiring and established professionals. You can earn 1 PDU for each hour of service, including preparation. Keep detailed documentation in case you are required to verify your efforts.

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Take Full Advantage of the Opportunity

Rather than dreading the obligation to earn PDUs and maintain your PMP certification, we encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunity to meaningfully increase your knowledge in relevant areas (more on this below), while you give back and help others within and outside the project management community—because after all, while not everyone is a project manager, virtually everyone works on projects in one way or another. Your insight is highly valuable and very much in-demand.

Learning Recommendations

According to a recent Forrester* survey, organizations have elevated the following key priorities since the pandemic started:

  • Accelerating the shift to digital business in order to thrive — and not just survive — uncertainty.
  • Reducing costs by increasing productivity and focusing on profitability (vs. simply eliminating expenses).
  • Leveraging visibility across the enterprise to improve the use of data insights in decision making.
  • Accelerating the response to business and market changes.
  • Improving the ability to innovate.

Naturally, you want to align your education strategy with your specific role, responsibilities and career path. However, targeting the above priorities on your learning path should be highly rewarding both professionally and personally.

* For more information on the survey and additional insights on how leading organizations are surging ahead during turbulent times, then watch our 3-part on-demand virtual summit series “Embracing Change” (and yes, you can earn PDUs!).


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