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PMI's PDU Secrets

~ By Cornelius Fichtner

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A project manager has to be many things. To name just a few, a PM has to be a great communicator, a leader, a visionary, and be able to both build and inspire the team. First and foremost, however, a project manager has to be proactive. We employ strategies to plan the future in order to proactively minimise risk on our projects so that we can deliver on time and on budget.

Why then is it that when November comes around you can hear a collective groan rise from the worldwide community of PMPs as they ask, where they could quickly get 20, 30 or even 40 or more PDUs before the year is through? Is this simply a case of the cobbler's children having no shoes? No. I think that this is an acute case of the PMP community not even trying to proactively understand the PMI's recertification requirements. I am writing this in July of 2008, there are seven more months in the year, and I want to help you understand how you can very easily gain all the PDUs you need before the year is through.

The authoritative source when it comes to your PMP recertification is the PMI's Continuing Certification Requirements Handbook. This 10-page document can be found on www.pmi.org in the Career Development section. It contains everything you need to know about your recertification. Like so many PMI documents, it is (a) very well hidden on their website and (b) rather dry and needs some explaining. In a nutshell, you can gain PDUs in five categories and I will highlight them today to show you how easy it is.

Category 1 is called Formal Academic Education. If you are currently enrolled in an academic course that includes classes on project and/or programme management then you can claim 15 PDUs for a typical 15-week semester. To calculate Category 1 PDUs I recommend that you speak with your university as well as the PMI to ensure that you claim the correct amount.

Category 2 offers a number of opportunities to claim PDUs based on your Professional Activities and Self-Directed Learning. There are many sub-categories that make collecting PDUs easy. Here are four examples:

  1. Claim up to 40 PDUs for authoring a book
  2. If you work 1,500 hours per year as a project manager, you can claim up to 15 PDUs. Yes, you get PDUs just for being a PM
  3. Teaching a project management course gives up to 10 PDUs
  4. Be a speaker at your local PMI chapter dinner meeting and claim 5 PDUs

The absolute easiest way to claim PDUs in this category, however, is the sub-category for Self Directed Learning. Here you can claim another 15 PDUs for a number of simple, self-study activities. The ones that I recommend are to read a project management book or - even better - listen to a project management Podcast. You can find about six free such podcasts by googling the term "project management podcast"

This brings us to Category 3, which refers to attending educational programs offered by one of PMI's many Registered Education Providers (REP). A cost effective way is to talk to your local PMI chapter. Most offer a monthly dinner meeting (1 PDU) or monthly seminars (1 PDU per seminar hour) at a very low cost to you. Some PMI Chapters and PMI Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) even offer online webinars with PDUs. And then, there are of course hundreds of training companies that have the REP status and offer qualifying in-person and online classes.

You also receive 1 PDU for each hour attending project management related trainings by non PMI REPs. This is part of Category 4: Other Providers. For example: if your employer offers internal project management training then you can claim 1 PDU for each hour. This is true for almost any PM related seminar. Keep all your receipts and documentation on the topics discussed in the class just in case the PMI audits you.

And finally, there is Category 5: Volunteer Service for your PMI Chapter. Granted, this category will not make you "PDU rich" but volunteering is extremely rewarding. The maximum number of PDUs in this category is 10 PDUs for elected officials and 5 PDUs for regular volunteers. So the main goal of volunteering for the chapter is clearly not gaining PDUs. The more important reasons are networking with your peers, being involved in local PM community and learning about all the PDU offerings that your chapter has. For me personally, the PDUs that I receive for volunteering in my chapter are the most gratifying and the most satisfying PDUs of them all. So contact your membership director and ask about the available opportunities.

By following the ideas outlined in this article you can gain all the PDUs you need in just a few months. It really is that easy. The trick is to know that you have a multitude of ways available to you. So be proactive and start earning your PDUs today!


Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He is the host of The PM Podcast at www.project-management-podcast.com where you can hear his free interviews with PM experts from around the world. His PM PrepCast has also helped over 2,000 project managers to prepare for the PMP exam.


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