What Is a PDU?

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Education, like managing a project, is a process. It doesn’t stop with the certification or the degree. There are always going to be advances in technology or technique that drive innovation and leave behind those foolish enough to remain complacent.

Think about it, would you want a team member who was content with the skills they learned years ago? Are you satisfied with doing things in an antiquated way? Of course not. There is always more to know, both in terms of your development as a professional and in terms of staying competitive in the workforce.

That’s where PDUs come in. They’re a way to track your education and show that you’re up-to-date with the latest in your field. You can acquire them in any number of ways, from online training to traditional courses of study. But what does PDU stand for and how can you get them? Good questions.

definition of a PDU

PDUs Defined

What is a PDU? Before delving into the definition of PDUs, there’s the acronym to address. It stands for Professional Development Unit. That’s just a fancy way of saying it’s a way to measure your professional development.

A PDU is a way to keep your certification relevant. Remaining certified in any discipline means keeping up with the changes in that field. Getting PDUs is a way to show a prospective employer or client that you’ve stayed abreast of developments in your line of work and that your certification isn’t gathering dust on a wall somewhere.

What Is Certification?

Before you can have a PDU, you need to have an education or certification in project management first. There are many different certifications offered to the project manager professional.

  • CAPM: Stands for Certified Associate in Project Management. It’s administered by PMI and is considered the first step in the certification journey.
  • PMP: Also managed by PMI, the Project Management Professional is a more involved test of a project manager’s qualifications, which is based on PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
  • CPMP: There’s no experience required to take the Certified Project Management Practitioner exam, unlike the CAPM and PMP. It’s suggested for project managers who are looking to add value to their skillsets.
  • MPM: A Master Project Manager is a worldwide certification offered by the American Academy of Project Managers (AAPM).
  • Certified Scrum Master: Part of the Agile way of working, which started in software development, Scrum Masters work best with small teams in short “sprints.”
  • PRINCE2: Projects in Controlled Environments was developed in England and is a certification in Europe.
  • PMITS: Project Management in IT Security, as the name suggests, is exclusively for managing IT security projects.

How to Earn PDUs?

There are lots of ways to earn PDUs. Here are some of the avenues you can take to stay relevant.

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If you’re certified in project management, we offer free PM training that can help you earn PDUs. Whether you’re seeking certification, curious about project management or working to earn more continuing education credits, our free training videos are a helpful resource.

Ongoing Education

Continuing education can be one-on-one or in a more traditional group setting, either on site or online, so there’s no reason why you can’t find the time to participate. There are educational events held by local chapters of the Project Management Institute (PMI), e-learning classes and courses of study provided by learning institutions. You can even get self-directed learning, if you need the flexibility.

Giving Back to the Industry

By sharing the knowledge you’ve attained as a manager, you can offer those skills and experience to help others coming up in the industry. For example, you can work as a practitioner in the discipline which you’re trained. You could create content that outlines new knowledge and resources for other professionals and the public. Present what you know at a conference or similar professional setting. You can even volunteer your services outside of your employer and client base.

Plan Your PDU

The last thing you want to do after getting certified is wait until the last minute to earn the PDU credit to keep your certification valid. For example, if you’re a PMP, you must earn 60 PDUs every three years to maintain your certification in good standing. There’s no way you can cram that in at the last minute.

To avoid having your credentials suspended, you want to approach the PDU process as you would any other project: by planning. First, understand the different PDU categories, as we discussed. You need to be clear on what the continuing certification requirements (CCR) are before you can begin to plan to achieve them. Once you’re familiar with the CCR, then set yourself goals. How many PDUs do you want to earn in this category over the course of a year?

Now get organized. What is the frequency of the PDU activities that you can participate in? What are the best ways for you to meet your PDU goals? Maybe it’s a course, if you need the discipline to force you to attend, or it could be local PMI meetings for a more casual approach. This could be as simple as setting some time to watch training videos online. These activities often come with a price tag, but not always, so the financial investment is another variable you’ll have to keep an eye on.

Once you’ve set up a plan, do as you would in any project and automate notifications to keep you on track. You can do this on your phone or with project management tools you already use. Just make it easy. You want those notifications to remind you, not get lost in the ether. Some organizations that offer PDUs have instruments in place to do this for you, if that’s the way you’d prefer to go.

To best track your progress, report your PDUs when you’ve earned them with the certifying body. Most will have a website set up to make this as simple as possible. And don’t forget to apply for your credential renewal. Again, just like a project, it’s not over until the paperwork is signed, delivered and archived.

Now that you’ve got certification and have the PDU process under your belt, you’ll want a tool that can help you plan and track that continuing education. Why not ProjectManger.com? It’s a cloud-based project management software that has real-time data, collaborative features and tools to take you through each phase of the project. Take this free 30-day trial and see what it can do to ease your project management.

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