A project manager is a professional. And, like any professional, if you take your profession, your career and yourself seriously, you’ll undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
What is a PDU?
If you hold a qualification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) like PMP (Project Management Professional) or PMI-ACP (PMI Agile Certified Professional), CPD is mandatory. Without it, your project management certification will expire. The PMI measures CPD in Professional Development Units, or PDUs.
A PDU is a one-hour block of time that you spend developing your professional expertise. The principle ways to do this are by learning, teaching others, or volunteering. Earning PDUs keeps you up refreshed and curent when it comes to project management tools, techniques and methodologies.
PMI’s PDU Requirements
Some PMI certifications require you to earn a minimum number of PDUs over a three-year cycle. For example:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) requires 60 PDUs; 20 per year.
- Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP) requires 30 PDUs; 10 per year.
In addition, PMI requires you to align your PDUs to the PMI Talent Triangle. You can find the precise rules on the PMI website.
Two Types of PMI PDUs
The PMI recognizes two types of PDUs:
- Education PDUs, which are gained by learning about project management topics
- Giving back PDUs, which are gained by contributing to the profession
Let’s look at each of these in turn, to see the rules PMI applies, and the different “easy” ways to earn your PDUs.
Good Practice in Accumulating PDUs
Before we look at where to get them, I want to highlight good practice for a professional. The core idea behind PDUs is continuing professional development, not last-minute-cram-in-the-points professional development.
Build a plan at the start of the year to develop yourself professionally. And aim to meet the minimum requirements for maintaining whatever certification you have.
I’m also a great believer in balance. So spread your CPD broadly across the different categories. The exception is when you have a deliberate strategy to learn a new skill-set. In this case, your PDUs are likely to follow that direction. But remember, over a three-year period, the balance does need to meet the PMI’s minimums in each area. Download the PMI’s policy document here.
PDUs in Receiver Mode: Education PDUs
Education PDUs need to be balanced across the three sides of the PMI Talent Triangle:
- Strategic and Business Management
You’ll need a minimum of 8 PDUs in each, and a total minimum of:
- 35 Education PDUs over three years, to maintain PMP, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-PBA qualifications
- 18 Education PDUs over three years, to maintain PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP qualifications
Where to get Your Education PDUs
Pretty much any training course will give you PDUs, although if you get it from the PMI or from a PMI Registered Education Provider (REP), your PDUs will be pre-approved. Otherwise, you’ll need to self-certify. These are then subject to potential audit by PMI. This includes, by the way, my own online training.
PMI also suggests a wealth of other sources, including:
- PMI professional meetings
- Online Digital Sources
- Informal learning like mentoring or ‘lunch and learn’ type events.
Five Easy Ways to Get Education PDUs
1. Blog Articles
Plus one for this article and others here at ProjectManager.com. Yes, reading blog articles can get you PDUs. You’ll need to keep a record and make an honest estimate of your reading time. I recommend you start a CPD or PDU log: a spreadsheet is ideal. This article (at around 1,500 words) will take an average reader 5 to 6 minutes to read. So, one article a week, and that’s 4 PDUs in the bag at the end of the year.
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Do you prefer to watch? (Yes, fellow fans, Being There is a favorite film of mine too). Then there are a few excellent YouTube Channels, of which my favorites both publish new videos weekly—including training videos by ProjectManager.com.
On the same theme, for listening, there are numerous podcasts—most of which are free. Many of these allow you to hear interviews full of advice and experience with top PMs.
It’s worth mentioning that Cornelius Fichtner hosts a prerecorded set of podcasts called the PDU Podcast, which has been designed to give you all the education PDUs you need to maintain your PMP. There’s a three-year cycle, that you can buy as a monthly subscription or in yearly chunks.
4. Workplace Learning
Most workplaces offer training or informal learning opportunities. Make the best possible use of it. Record it on your PDU spreadsheet and allocate portions to the three Talent Triangle subject areas. Be honest—conservative even. If it’s a six-hour course on presentation skills, ask yourself how much of it really contributes to your project management expertise.
5. PMI Learning Opportunities
If you are a PMP, then you are a member of the PMI. And this means you have access to lots of free opportunities. My top recommendations are:
- Join the com community. Read the articles, attend the webinars and engage in discussions
- Make use of your local PMI chapter. Attend their events and even see if your employer will fund trips to PMI events and conferences.
PDUs in Active Mode: Giving Back PDUs
Contributing to the development of your profession is a magnificent way to earn PDUs. You will not only give, but receive, in the form of developing your own knowledge and skills. The PMI rules allow:
- A maximum of 25 PDUs over three years from giving back, to maintain PMP, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-PBA qualifications
- A maximum of 12 PDUs over three years from giving back, to maintain PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP qualifications
And the best thing is number 6 below.
6. Working as a Professional
You can claim up to eight and four PDUs respectively for these clusters of qualifications, for doing your job as a project manager. As long as your role is relevant to your certification, turning up at work will earn you PDUs.
PMI offers four more routes to gaining Giving Back PDUs:
- Creating Content – articles, webinars, videos
- Giving a Presentation – at work, at a PMI chapter or for a community group
- Sharing Knowledge – passing on the benefit of your experience
- Volunteering – at PMI
Four more Easy Ways to Get Giving Back PDUs
7. Write a Blog article
For most people, starting your own blog is too big of a commitment. But many blogs accept articles, and the best one to start with is one we’ve mentioned already, the PMI’s com community.
8. Give a Podcast Interview
There’s no rule that says the content you create must be written, nor that the presentation you give must be live. But again, offering live webinars or starting a YouTube Channel may be too much for you. But there are plenty of podcasts out there that are always looking for working project managers with a good story to tell. Listen to a few and approach ones that you think have an audience that would enjoy your project management story or point of view.
9. Volunteering Starts Near Home
Your local PMI chapter is probably the easiest place to start with volunteering for the PMI. And it has the added bonus of hooking you into a network of professionals in your area. You’ll be able to learn from them, and they may be able to help you advance your career. Plus, when you attend the meetings, that’s even more points (see 5, above).
10. Help out more Junior Colleagues
You have your qualifications. Others may not. Mentoring more junior colleagues in your workplace (or through your local PMI Chapter) is a brilliant way to pay your professional dues forward. Plus, it will doubtless reward you emotionally and challenge you intellectually. And that latter point is clearly one of the reasons it will earn you PDUs
There’s so Much You Can Do
There are so many options that don’t take you far out of your way nor cost you any significant sums of money. So, what should you do next? Well, you’re a project manager, so the answer is obvious: go and make a plan.
You can use the blog ProjectManager.com to read posts and watch training videos to earn PDUs, but you can also use our software to track them. After all, earning PDUs is just another project, which you plan, schedule and monitor to make sure you’re on track to keeping your professional status. Our online Gantt chart works better than a spreadsheet, feeds instantly into a real-time dashboard to keep you updated, and you can visualize your workflow with out Kanban boards. Try ProjectManager.com today for free with this 30-day trial.