Bottom Line: You don’t need to spend money on courses to renew your PMP certification. Here’s exactly how to do it on the cheap.
So you took your PMP exam, and you passed. Excellent job. You now have a valid PMP certificate for 3 years. In order to keep it, you’ll need to renew your certification. You don’t need to retake the exam, but you will need to earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) before you’re eligible to renew. You have to earn them within the 3 years of your active certification. You need to renew your PMP certificate or it will expire.
I wrote a post in 2020 on how to submit PDUs in order to renew your PMP.
When to renew it?
As long as you have your PMP certification, you can renew at any time. I renewed mine about 4 months after I got my PMP certification. Once renewed, your certification will now be valid for 6 years instead of 3. I recommend renewing it earlier rather than later. Waiting until year 3 will be a drag and you’ll be less motivated to finish your PDUs. Let’s talk about how to renew.
Rules of Getting PDUs
This was a bit bewildering. I read some contradicting information from different areas on the PMI website regarding what counts as a PDU. As of the date of this post, here are the rules:
You need a total of 60 PDUs. 1 PDU = 1 hour. This means if you listen to a 30 minute podcast, that counts for 0.5 PDUs.
Let’s make sense of this PMP triangle. There are two categories:
You need at least 35 PDUs in the education category. There is no maximum. You can get all 60 PDU hours here if you wanted to. You need at least 8 PDUs in technical, 8 PDUs in leadership, and 8 PDUs in strategic and business management. Once you filled these categories up (8 x 3 = 24), then feel free to add the remaining PDU hours in any of those 3 categories until you reach the required minimum of 35 PDUs or all the way to 60 if you want to.
Giving Back Category
This is where you’re actually giving something back to society in terms of project management. The maximum overall PDUs you can get for this is 25. Right away, you can mark down 8 PDUs as working as a professional (maximum is 8).
The other two categories are volunteering and creating knowledge. I did not do the volunteering, but I did do the creating knowledge category. This post that you’re reading is in the category of creating knowledge. It is a great way to share ideas with others, and you’re getting PDUs for it as well.
Cost of Renewal
You’ll have to pay PMI $60 to renew your certificate. To get 60 PDUs, you can get away with minimal costs (under $10). Sure, there are classes available, but if you just spent months studying project management and taking the exam, and practicing these principles at work, I’m not sure whether taking a refresher class will be worth your while.
Let’s take a look at where we can get our PDUs.
I prefer to listen to a podcast when learning, and immersing myself with different project management ideas. This is why I used the PM Podcast to get most of my PDU hours. As of today, there are close to 350 podcast episodes ranging from 20 minutes to 1 hour on different real world topics. I recommend paying for the premium service ($6), and downloading all of the podcast episodes so that you can listen to them while you’re driving or taking a train. You can pay the $6, download the episodes, and cancel the monthly subscription. Even Cornelius mentions this option on the website. You can take notes using your cell phone when great ideas come up.
All of the episodes are freely available.
YouTube has great seminars on project management. If you go to YouTube, type in “project management strategy” for example, and you’ll see material you can learn from and apply toward your PDUs.
This is a premium service which costs something like $30 per month. Use it if you find value in it. Lynda.com has great PMP PDU renewal courses. It also helps that Lynda.com makes quality video material. If you’re a visual learner, this is the way to go.
The easiest way to get your 60 PDUs
As you see, there are several ways you can earn PDUs through giving back or through education. It is really a flexible system. If you’re asking me about the easiest way to get all 60 PDUs, I’d say the answer is with the PM Podcast. If you wanted to, you could just listen to 60 hours worth of podcasts and log 60 PDUs. While I got the majority of my PDUs from the podcast, I also created articles on project management and used youtube seminars.
Don’t get confused with categories
If you hear phrases about category A, B, or C PDUs, realize that they don’t apply. I had confusion with this too initially, until I realized that it does not matter which category your PDUs come from. Stick with the basics.
Where do I submit PDUs?
Log into your PMI PMP account. Find the renewal information there, and then go to https://ccrs.pmi.org/. You can login and track all your hours there.
Keeping a log
Plan your education PDUs, or else you’ll fall behind. You need to keep a log of what PDU hours you’ve done and write down an idea or two that you got from these PDU hours. When you submit your PDU hours, PMI checks and can potentially audit your submissions. You shouldn’t worry about this because you’ll actually keep a log of what you’ve seen, or listened to with each PDU hour you earn. That log will be your evidence in case an audit should happen.
If you’re doing the PM Podcast, the guesswork has been done for you in this spreadsheet. Download the spreadsheet and revise it in google sheets or Excel with the dates and times of when you’ll listen to each episode you’re interested in. When submitting your PDUs, you can copy and paste in these episode titles, with the correct hours, and the dates when you listened to them.
Once you reach 60 hours, you can then pay $60, and have your certificate extended by 3 more years. Congratulations. You did it.