Having obtained the PMP® credential, your PMP number is yours for a lifetime – provided your annual dues are current, and you show continuing involvement in project management.
In addition to the PMI Global dues, you may optionally choose to join a nearby local chapter for a small additional fee. You can also join interest groups (Communities of Practice, discussed later). Local chapter membership offers many benefits, including networking opportunities, valuable presentations at regular meetings, local training discounts, and opportunities to volunteer.
Required Continuing Growth and Involvement
Like any career area, project management continues to evolve in positive ways. Over the years, it’s important that if you represent yourself as a credential holder, you represent it well. That means keeping up.
Keeping up means active involvement in project management work and staying abreast of current trends through continuing education. In the remainder of this article, we discuss how PMI accomplishes the fairly difficult task of measuring how well you keep up.
Documenting Continuing Growth and Involvement
Professional Development Units (PDUs) are the primary measure of your continuing involvement and education. No matter how many PMI credentials you have, the same PDUs apply for all of them. Having multiple credentials does not increase the number you must earn in each renewal cycle.
Do Continuing Education Units (CEUs) also apply? Yes, they do, as long as the subject matter is relevant to project management. One CEU is equivalent to 10 PDUs. You get credit for things like attending a local chapter meeting (usually one PDU) and taking a full college course, which is obviously a lot more work. So it’s clear that the fine granularity of the PDU is very useful. In recordkeeping, CEUs must be converted to PDUs. Simply multiply the CEU count by 10 to get the number of PDUs you can claim.
Steady as She Goes
All too common is the project manager who ignores PDU accrual until the very end of the renewal cycle and then pays significant dollars to take a crash course. You can really make it all easy and less expensive by having a slow, steady approach, taking advantage of high-quality, low-cost PDU opportunities as they arise during your three-year cycle.
Keeping Track of PDUs
One PDU is earned for each hour of involvement in approved activities. Your PDUs will be awarded in various ways. At some in-person events, you will simply be given an event name and code, and at some you will be given a piece of paper to keep. Some PDUs may even be automatically reported to PMI for you. In any case, it is your responsibility to keep track to make sure nothing gets lost, and you must do so well in advance of re-accreditation time or risk having your credential lapse with possible restoration fees required. Make sure to arrange a safe, central place for your own record-keeping.
Types of PDUs and How to Get Them
During your three-year renewal cycle, there are two broad categories in which you can earn PDUs. They are called “Education” and “Giving Back to the Profession.”
In the Education category, there is no limit to the number of PDUs you can earn. You can accrue PDUs in three ways:
- courses offered by PMI’s Registered Education Providers (RPEs) or local chapters
- Continuing Education
- Self-Directed Learning
RPEs are organizations that have proven to PMI that their responsibly provided training is valuable to the project manager. For this reason, these organizations are good training sources, as is, of course, your local PMI chapter.
Continuing Education applies to academic courses provided by universities or colleges, on the one hand, and also to courses, seminars and symposiums offered by organizations NOT registered with PMI. Sources of the latter can be your employer, professional associations, or any training organization not registered with PMI.
Self-Directed Learning includes a broad range of activities that you perform on your own. Included are such things as reading books, articles or instructional manuals, using podcasts, and lunch and learn sessions with co-workers or colleagues. It should be clear that the active project manager should have no problem accruing the required number of PDU hours in a three-year cycle. There is a limit of 30 PDUs in this category. You must prepare for the possibility that you will be audited. Be sure to keep careful ongoing records of these activities, including dates.
Giving Back to the Profession PDUs
Here again, there are three ways to accrue:
- Creating New Project Management Knowledge
- Volunteer Service
- Work as a Project Management Professional
You can claim up to 45 hours in this category.
“Creating New Project Management Knowledge” involves authoring, presenting courses and presentations, moderating a relevant discussion, or participating as a panelist. As with any profession, an important facet of being a certified project manager is contributing to the advancement of the profession. Indeed, this is the principal avenue for improvement in the practice in general.
“Volunteer Service” opportunities encompass a broad range of activities. They include serving as an officer of a local chapter or PMI Community of Practice or as a committee member providing services to a local chapter. PMI maintains a variety of Communities of Practices (COPs) in which many volunteer opportunities are available. COPs allow you to associate with peers in virtually any industry, so you are sure to find one of interest to you. You can also provide project management services in a volunteer capacity to organizations you deem deserving. You can also participate in the evolution of PMI standards, and much more.
“Working as a Project Management Professional” is of course the reason you obtained the credential in the first place, and your normal work appropriately accrues PDUs. Working as a project manager for at least six months in any 12 month period qualifies you for five PDUs, leading to a maximum of 15 PDUs in any renewal cycle.
Officially Recording Your PDUs
The official place to record your PDUs is at PMI.org in the Continuing Certification Requirements System. After logging into PMI.org, you can access it.
After claiming your PDUs via online entry, you will be notified by email of receipt. They will then be evaluated before acceptance by PMI.
Read about more ways to evolve and grow as a project manager here.