If you are a Project Manager who has sought to be certified, you might have acquired the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the PMI. It is arguably the most prestigious certification in the field of Project Management. As mentioned in our general article on certification, it is a maintainable certification, meaning that you have to renew it – every three years, in the case of the PMP. Having discussed how to get the PMP certification, we now turn the subject of maintaining your PMP.
How to go about keeping your PMP, and how to do it in a cost-effective way is discussed in what follows.
The Three-Year Certification Cycle
Once you pass the PMP certification, it is valid for a period of three years. This period, called the certification cycle, starts from the moment that you exit the testing center having passed the test. During that time, you need to earn Professional Development Units or PDUs to keep your PMP certification. In the case of the PMP, you will need to acquire 60 PDUs during the three-tear cycle.
The first page to visit on the PMI website is a page called Maintain your Credential. You will want to read the CCR frequently asked questions for a quick overview of the Continuing Certification Requirements System (CCRS). However, the PMP Handbook that you will have downloaded upon applying for your PMP exam contains valuable information on the recertification process and CCR on pages 34 to 47, and I advise to read this section before proceeding in order to familiarize yourself with the process. The PMP Handbook is the top-right link on the Project Management Professional (PMP) page, under ‘Quick Links’.
How to Earn PDUs in a Cost-effective Way
Having read the PMP Handbook, you can consult two links on the Maintain your Credential page for more information: Ways to Earn PDUs and Professional Development. The first of these two links is the most important source of information regarding the type of PDUs that you can get in those three years. Focusing on the second paragraph, ‘Give Back to the Profession’, consider item 10: ‘Doing Your Job’. If you look carefully at page 41 of the PMP Handbook, you will notice that you can gain 5 PDUs per year, or 15 PDUs per cycle – just by doing your job! If you are a Project Manager, therefore, you already have 25% of the total 60 required for free.
On the Ways to Earn PDUs page, look at item 3: ‘Community Offerings’ under ‘Continue Your Education’. This is a potential source for another 25% of the required PDUs. How? By joining your local PMI chapter! You will probably be informed by email of the events that your chapter is organizing, including events, meetings, seminars, lectures, and the like. By attending a lecture, for instance, you can net 1 PDU for each hour that you attend. So if the session runs for 2 hours, you get 2 PDUs. Supposing that you attend five one-hour lectures per year, that is another 15 PDUs that you get for free during the three-year cycle.
Before we leave the cost-effective ways to earn PDUs, I should mention again the PMstudy website: this is an example of a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) that offers online courses and provides PDUs in coordination with the PMI. The PMstudy website offers courses in Six Sigma, Risk Management, HR…the cost per PDU is very acceptable and could be a nice way to boost your total number of PDUs.
Other Notable Ways to Earn PDUs
Under ‘Continue Your Education’, you will notice items 4 and 5: PMI Global Congresses and Events and PMI Seminars World. These are global events held several times each year, and they are interesting venues to network with Project Management practitioners from around the world, attend seminars and gain valuable knowledge – and a significant number of PDUs! The downside of such events is, of course, the associated cost. However, particularly if the event is in your region, it could be an interesting experience. It is certainly something that I plan to undertake in the near future.
Please note that there are many other ways to secure PDUs and give back to the profession, such as Volunteering with the PMI, writing articles and books, giving lectures and courses at your local chapter or at a College or University (this will net you more PDUs than if you are an attendee, of course).
Submitting Your Professional Development Units
Each time you earn PDUs, you can submit them on the CCR page, or the Continuing Certification Requirements System. On this same page, a Certificant User Guide is available to give your more information should you need to. You can also search for activities or REPs on the same page to give you some ideas. Remember to submit PDUs immediately when you gain them, and keep all associated documentation for courses, seminars and the like. This will help you keep track of earned PDUs and will be valuable in case of an audit from the PMI. For example, whenever you complete one year as a Project Manager, enter those 5 PDUs online before you forget to do so. At the end of the three-year cycle, you will need to pay $60 to the PMI – if you are a member, and $150 for non-members. Remember, being a member is of the utmost importance!
I hope that this short guide to maintaining the PMP was useful. Questions? Drop them in the comments box below. Good luck in getting and maintaining your PMP!