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How To Earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) To Maintain Your PMP

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Many individuals have questions about PDUs and there are tons of various programs out there, many that charge money, to help you. Even some that say they will do it for you. While everyone has a different approach, I can say, that PDUs should not cost you anything to maintain. With a little effort and planning, earning the 60 PDUs to renew your PMP will be easy to accomplish.

In this article we will discuss the following:

· Intent of PDUs

· The Requirement for PMP PDUs

· The Process to earn PDUs

· The timing of renewal

The Intent:

Its important first and foremost to understand the reason the Project Management Institute (PMI) requires PMPs to earn and maintain 60 PDUs. Much like other professional certifications, the goal is to maintain engagement and relevance within the profession of Project Management and to make sure that everyone who has a PMP maintains awareness and knowledge of best practices in the industry. PDUs are not meant to just be a “To Do.” They are there to keep you engaged and learning.

The Requirement:

PMI requires those who hold any PMI certifications to maintain PDUs. For PMP, the requirement is to obtain 60 PDUs within 3 years. These can be earned at any time within the 3-year window. PDUs don’t have to be spread out evenly over the 3 years and can even be earned in a single year. The key is that you must have 60 PDUs approved in your PMI account/dashboard before you will be allowed to renew. Once approved, you can renew your PMP. Cost is $150 for non-members and $60 for members.

One nice thing is that if you earn more than 60 PDUs, some of the PDUS earned in the final 12 months of your current 3-year certification may be carried forward. This can help spring board your progress towards renewal the next time. For PMP you can push forward up to 20 PDUs.

How this works: If you have 80 PDUs, and 20 were earned in the final 12 months of your current 3 years of certification, then you can push 20 PDUs towards your next 60 PDU requirement.

The Process:

PMI has divided PDUs into two main groups with 5 total subcategories as shown in this Dashboard snapshot below.

Education is grouped according to the 3 sides of the PMI Talent Triangle.

· Technical Project Management

· Leadership

· Strategic and Business Management

Giving Back is binned into either:

· Working as a practitioner

· Other Giving Back

Ways to earn PDUs:

Beyond the PDU tracking structure, PMI further outlines a number of ways that PDUs can be obtained as shown in Figure 2 below.

Next we are going to dive further into defining the types of activities and opportunities outlined by each of the areas listed.

One simple metric to use is one hour of work, learning, or participation equals 1 PDU.

Course or training:

This area is extremely broad and covers any course or training class you with to attend to include self-paced learning, in person, or online learning. Couse topics need to be linked to any area of project Management. For many, your organizations conduct annual courses on human resources, contracting, safety, stakeholder management, marketing, etc. Many if not all of these required annual courses would qualify as PDUs. Many college courses will count for PDUs as well as courses taken to pursue additional PMI certifications.

Organization Meetings (limited to 1-2 PDUs per event)

These constitute any meeting, activity or event related to the Project Management Profession. They can be PMI chapter meetings, online networking sessions, PM-ProCommunity events etc. Professional meetings are a great way to learn and network.

Online or Digital Media

The main way I have seen this applied is to the attendance or listening of webinars. PM-ProCommunity is constantly adding webinars and there are a number of podcasts out there as well on many topics in project management. If you are a PMI member then your free access to is a great resource to download and listen to webinars while driving in your car. The other benefit, is that these PDUs will auto upload into your dashboard.


Any professional will tell you that reading is an essential component of learning. Project management is a huge field and there are a number of books, articles, white papers, and even blogs about leadership, business, management etc. that will qualify As you log your PDUs be sure not to overdo it. Maybe use a metric like 1 PDU per hour of reading. Check out our blogs here and start earning PDUs.

Informal Learning:

Informal learning and teaching occur every day. Sometimes learning comes through interaction with others. You can earn PDUs by engaging in structured professional discussions with others, for example while you’re being mentored or participating in a “lunch and learn” session with your organization.

Work as a Practitioner (limited to 8 PDUs)

This is probably the easiest way to earn PDUs as we are all project managers. Simply enter the start date and end date for the project. The downside is that this is limited to only 8 PDUs.

Create Content

As the goal is to help others learn and grow in the field or project management, this is a tremendous opportunity to not only help others, but to earn PDUs. One great way to create content is to write articles. I have written a number of articles and published them on Linkedin, or on the PM-ProCommunity page. I typically log 1 PDU per hour of work in developing content.

Give a Presentation

Presentations are a common activity for many organizations, especially those in leadership. Giving a presentation about anything related to the field of project management will qualify. Some examples would be to speak at a PMI chapter event, online during a webinar, at a professional conference, or internally within your organization.

Share Knowledge

Sharing our skills with our team is a great way to grow and enhance the project management community. By sharing our skills we grow the profession and enhance best practices that are essential to our role as professionals. These activities can be through mentoring, teaching, helping others earn their PMP, etc. The goal is to simply help others learn and benefit from our knowledge, experience and perspective. You can also participate in discussion boards, online forums, etc. The PM-ProCommunity forum would welcome your participation.


Volunteering is a great way to help other organizations and nonprofits. There are many active PMI groups and the PM-ProCommunity is growing as well and would love to have your help. If you want to get involved let us know. You can also volunteer for your organization to help get PMP classes scheduled and be a lead to grow the profession. Email if you want to get engaged.

Timing of renewal:

One key thing to know is that you can renew your PMP at any point after you earn your 60 PDUs. This means you don’t have to wait until your 3 years are ending to renew your PMP Certification. As soon as you earn your 60 PDUs you can renew the cert. I completed all 60 PDUs in my first year and renewed my PMP. This extended my certification out to 6 years. It’s important to remember as we described earlier that you can only push forward additional PDUs earned in your final 12 months. This doesn’t mean to stop learning and growing, but its something to be aware of.

The timeline below provides a visual breakdown and one way to understand the timing of earning PDUs and the renewal of your PMP certification.

If you have any questions about PDUS and what does or does not qualify, please reach out to our team at

You are not alone in this journey and we look forward to having you contribute and participate in our community.

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