Easy Ways To Maintain PMP Certification

PMP certification is more than just a piece of paper

Congratulations! You just passed your PMP Exam!  You now have the requirement of 60 PDUs staring you right in the face. You may not think this is a big deal because you have three long years ahead of you before your certification expires. But, before you know it a year has passed and you find yourself 20 PDUs behind! And time keeps ticking along…

Time is a lot of things. Time is money, time is a healer, time is a teacher and time is an equalizer. One thing that time is not, however, is on your side. As the weeks, months and years progress, the relentless countdown of 60 PDUs begins the day you pass your PMP exam. You feel this requirement breathing down your neck every month that passes, but you still find it hard to find the time to put PDU activity on your task tracker or to do list.

Benjamin Franklin may not have been thinking about PMP recertification when he said “You may delay, but time will not”, but he captured what can easily happen if you don’t stay on top of your PDU requirements.

This article will zero in on three little words that stand between you and your recertification, discuss why it is so important to not let your certification lapse as well as provide some creative ways you can stay current with your PDUs.

Reasons Why PMP Certification May Be Hard to Keep Up With

When you passed your PMP exam you told yourself it was going to be a very simple thing to do to keep up with less than 2 PDUs per month. You vowed to yourself you would not let other priorities get in the way and knock you off your schedule. But, despite all the reasons you knew why PMP certification was important, you allowed it to slip away.It's hard to keep up with PDUs

What happened?

Here are the three little words that stand between you and your certification…You have been overcome by events. These events include your job, travel, family, and other responsibilities and priorities that consume the time necessary to keep your PDUs up-to-date. Each one of these areas is important, but if you plan on staying in the Project Management profession, you need to stay on top of your PDUs.

It’s an unfortunate and all too common occurrence that some PMPs will wait until the very last month or even week before their certification is up for renewal. They then realize they need to get 60 PDUs in a remarkably short period of time. This brings an inordinate amount of stress, late nights, time away from family members, and can even impact your work performance. You need to clearly establish in your mind that this is a serious part of your professional development that you are committed to making happen.

Why PMP Certification Maintenance is Important

Maintaining your PDUs is essential as a certified project managerLet’s start with the discomfort you will encounter if your PMP Certification lapses. If you find yourself at the end of three years and have not met the minimum requirements, your certification will go into Suspended Status. This means you can no longer claim you are a PMP until the overdue requirements are met within a maximum of one year of the certification expiration date. This also means you are already behind for the next cycle because the next renewal date does not move.

The worst case scenario is that you lose your certification altogether. Not only can you no longer claim you are a PMP, you will need to reapply for the credential, retake the PMP exam and submit the fees associated with the initial credential application. Ouch!

On the positive side of things, think about all of the benefits you have received from having your PMP certification:

  • You most likely earn more than your non-PMP peers – Salary surveys indicate that a project manager with their PMP certification will earn on average $10,000+ more per year than their non-PMP certified counterpart.
  • You have a viable and sustainable career path to follow – Keeping up with your certification lays out a career path that includes project management, program management, portfolio management, and a number of specialties and areas of expertise in between.
  • You have stayed on the leading edge of the Project Management profession – The courses, education, networking, webinars, and seminars you attend to keep up with your PDUs all pay off in the long run. You will find yourself well-versed in the latest technologies, thought processes, and new ways of getting things done that you can implement into your current projects.

Why risk losing all of this when all you need is less than 2 PDUs per month?

Turning Events into Opportunities

Rather than becoming overcome by events, take these events and turn them into opportunities for earning PDUs. There may be an assumption you can only earn PDUs at PMI sponsored events or meetings. Not so. PDUs are broken down into five different categories that can quickly add up to 60 PDUs.

Below are some examples of how people with different circumstances can take advantage of these different activities.

  • The Worker – Your job as a Project Manager keeps you at the office 24/7. You can claim up to 5 PDUs per year for being a practitioner of project and/or program management services. Tack onto this another 5 per year for coaching/mentoring sessions with your colleagues or coworkers and you are 50% of the way there without even leaving the office.
  • The Traveler – You spend more time in the air than you do on the ground. If you like to write, consider earning PDUs for authoring an article that is published about project management and earn anywhere from 10-30 PDUs. Complete the remaining PDUs by listening to courses on your MP3 player on the flight to your destination.
  • The Parent – It’s important to you to be home and spend time with the family on nights and weekends. There may be volunteer activities you are engaged in as a family that can help you earn PDUs.  Non-compensated Project Management services provided to a community or charitable group can earn up to 5 PDUs per year.
  • The Person In-Between Jobs – The downside of this scenario is that you may be unemployed. The upside, however, is that you do have plenty of time to focus on earning your PDUs. Since finances may be tight during this time of your life you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to keep up with your PDUs. Similar to The Parent above, you can volunteer your time to various project management organizations or functions that require project management experience and stock up on PDUs that way.

It doesn’t take long to get to 60 PDUs with a little creativity and discipline – which brings us to one more type of person we should consider…The Procrastinator.

The bottom line is that there is no excuse for putting it off to the last minute just because we didn’t get around to it. It goes against every instinct we have as Project Managers to put something off to the last minute. If you find yourself in this situation, put a project plan together and stick to it until the Recertification Project is complete.

By using some of the suggestions above, when you do have those 60 PDUs staring you straight in the face…you can stare back and watch them dwindle down to zero.

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