12 Easy Ways to Earn PDUs

Written by Cornelius Fichtner, PMP.

[Note: This is an update to the article “10 Easy Ways to Earn PDUs" that was published in July 2010. The update is necessary because PMI® changed the categories, structure and policies governing Professional Development Units (PDUs). See http://www.pmi.org/en/GLOBALS/PDU-Updated-Category-Structure-Implementation.aspx.]

PDUs we need and PDUs we want. Professional Development Units (PDUs) dominate our minds, our conversations, and our spare time in the last quarter before our Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) deadline. With a little proactive planning we can all make the PDU procurement process much easier. The bottom line is that we want the fast and consistent path to our PDUs… and we want them now!

How do we accomplish this? By just ‘doing’ what ‘you do’. The easiest way to earn PDUs is to leverage what you currently do. Here is a short list of PDU eligible activities that might already be part of your professional life.

1. Your Day Job (PDU Category F)

If you work as a Project Manager this is probably the easiest way to tick off up to 25% of the PDUs you’ll need at the end of the recertification cycle. If you are a practitioner of project management services for at least 6 months each year, you can claim up to 5 PDUs per year for a maximum total of 15 PDUs per three year period. For the details on this and the other PDU categories mentioned below please refer to the CCR section of the PMP® Handbook, which you can find at http://www.pmi.org/certification/~/media/pdf/certifications/pdc_pmphandbook.ashx#page=38.

2. Take a Quiz! (PDU Category A)

Did you know you can earn up to one third of your PDUs by taking the  PMI® publication quizzes? The member price starts at $10 per quiz. Score a 80% or higher and you will earn between 0.5 to 2.5 PDUs depending on the individual quiz and the CCR requirement you are trying to fulfill. (See http://www.pmi.org/CareerDevelopment/Pages/PMI-Publication-Quizzes.aspx)

3. Volunteer Service (PDU Category E)

Become a volunteer of your local project management association (either as an elected officer, as a committee member or by managing a project for them) and earn 1 PDU for each hour of service. Note that the PDUs earned in this category count towards the combined maximum of 45 PDUs for categories D, E and F. A letter or certificate from the organization acknowledging the participation is required for confirmation. (To find your local  PMI® chapter, go to http://www.pmi.org/GetInvolved/Pages/PMI-Chapters.aspx)

4. PDUs That Go Wherever You Go (PDU Category A)

The PDU Podcast delivers monthly webinars by a variety of presenters to your personal media player. Watch and earn PDUs whenever and wherever you want them. There is no limit to how many Category A PDUs you can earn from The PDU Podcast. A single subscription keeps you on track with fresh content delivered consistently and reliably month in and month out. (See http://www.pducast.com)

5. Get free PDUs just for listening (PDU Category C)

The Project Management Podcast delivers interviews with project management experts from around the world as free podcast episodes every so often to its subscribers. The topics are as varied as the guests. Because the programs are shorter than the 1 hour needed to claim a  PMI® PDU you have to listen to several free episodes to earn 1 PDU. But with over 200 free episodes available that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s also important to remember that you can claim a maximum of 30 PDUs in this category per recertification cycle. (See http://www.project-management-podcast.com/pdu)

6. Watch a Movie (PDU Category A)

“Applying the Fundamentals of Project Management” delivers 23 PDUs in the form of a movie via the internet to your home. It’s available on the PMI.org web site at a cost of $500 to  PMI® members. Well, I didn’t say it was cheap. I just said it was easy. (See http://marketplace.pmi.org/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?GMProduct=00101232800)

7. Formal Academic Training (PDU Category B)

Formal Academic educational courses related to Project Management can earn you 10 to 15 PDUs per semester. It’s one of the easier categories, as long as you are not financially challenged. If you are, there may well be project management related courses offered at your local community college that are more economical than the state and private collegiate institutions. The transcript or grade report is required for confirmation.

8. Create new Project Management Knowledge (PDU Category D)

There is a lot you can do in this category to earn PDUs. You could be authoring or co-authoring articles, books or newsletters, present a webinar or podcast, or create and present a project management course. Each will earn you PDUs. The rule is that every hour spent in preparing and delivering these activities is equal to one PDU. The PDUs claimed in this category count toward the 45 PDU maximum for categories D, E and F.

9. Turning CEU’s into PDUs (PDU Category B)

Like Formal Academic Training, Continuing Education (CE) can be submitted as PDUs. Unlike Formal Academic Training, CE’s are courses that comply with IACET standards. CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) can be converted to PDUs; generally at a ratio of 1 CEU to 10 PDUs. Your best bet is to confirm with the provider that the course you are interested in complies with the ANSI/IACET 1-2007 Standard and of course it must be about project management.

10. Self-Study (PDU Category C)

Do you consume a lot of materials like reading articles or books, watching videos or CD ROMs? Or do you have formal discussions with colleagues or customers? Or did you recently get coached? If you participated in any of these activities and the topic at hand was relevant to project management, had a specified purpose and used knowledgeable resources then you can claim 1 PDU for each hour spent on this as “self study”. There is a maximum of 30 PDUs for this and any other Category C activities.

11. Get Free PDU ideas via Email (PDU Category - Multiple)

If the 10 ideas above on how you can earn your PDUs easily and without breaking the bank aren’t enough for you then subscribe to The PDU Insider newsletter at http://www.pdu-insider.com. The newsletter will not only give you links to free events where you can earn PDUs, you can also have your PMP® PDU questions answered and learn more about the rules and policies of earning PDUs with each issue. After all… knowledge is power, so it’s always best to know the rules of any program you participate in.

12. Leverage PDU Activities (PDU Category - Multiple)

One of the best ways to proactively plan your PDUs is to get creative and leverage one PDU opportunity upon another. For example, if you attend a  PMI® Chapter Meeting you will earn 1 PDU (Category A). Why not piggy-back on that PDU opportunity by taking an active role as a volunteer at the registration desk (Category E) and of course on your trip to and from the event you can listen to the latest PM Podcast episodes in your car (Category C) and earn another PDU right there. This way, you will have used one event to generate PDUs in three different categories. Don’t be afraid to get creative and leverage PDU opportunities as much as you can.

So there you have it….

No matter what your budget or your learning media preference, these 12 simple methods are waiting to help you earn the 60 PDUs required for your recertification. If you are proactively planning your PDUs, you will be prodigiously promising as a project manager! Whichever route you take, keep consistent and remember to have some fun with it.

About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 17,000 students prepare for the PMP® Exam with The Project Management PrepCast at http://www.pm-prepcast.com and he guides  PMI® credential holders on earning PDUs with The PDU Insider at http://www.pdu-insider.com

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