Professional Development Units (PDUs) are the hourly training sessions that a professional person has attended in a planned and structured learning environment (or equivalent on-the-job hours).
PDUs importance is underlined by fact that they are the foremost requirement for any of the PMIs continuing certification programs. Also a certain number of PDUs are required to meet the ongoing PMIs certification renewal requirement. E.g. the PMP certification needs 60 PDUs every 3 years.
Recognizing the diverse nature of many professions, PDUs are also divided into different categories. There are several different ways to earn PDUs, including participation in formal training courses, workshops, conferences and professional seminars.
The ways to earn PDUs vary among different professions, but every work/service is linked with project management in one way or another. Each accounts for a different PDU category and can help in earning PDUs by claiming credit for time spent in a relevant job. This technique is especially useful for those people for whom taking time out from their day job is difficult. For example, a project manager may earn up to 25% of the required PDUs if he/she practices the relevant project management services for a minimum of six months a year.
However, if someones job is not in the required category, other avenues for obtaining the relevant PDUs exist.
One of the most cost-effective methods to help a professional earn one third of the required PDUs is to take the publication quiz offered by PMI. This quiz does not require much time and has a nominal charge.
An outside the box solution is to engage in volunteer work – you can earn PDUs by offering professional services to any local project management association. This method not only offers the PDUs by accounting for the hourly services, but the PDUs earned in this way can also be useful for other PDU categories as well.
PDUs are not limited to any single region; they can be earned anywhere in the world. Formal training courses provide PDUs.
For those who work in R&D, have research-oriented minds and or who enjoy reading innovative literature, an opportunity exists to earn PDUs in a cost effective way. These individuals only need to connect with some publishing or literature research department and participate in authoring or co-authoring books and articles. Even if someone shows interest in newsletters and volunteers to host or deliver a Project Management webinar, he/she can earn 1 one PDU for every hour of service in these areas. You can explore your own interests, share your experiences, build your professional profile and earn PDUs all at the same time.
Also, if someone takes a break from his/her professional career and enters or returns to higher education, the PMI allows that person to maintain certification by having continuing educational units converted into professional development units. The system is fairly flexible in that methods of earning PDUs include literature review, self-study and acquired coaching.
In summary, PDUs are split into 6 categories A-F.
Categories A, B & C are under the Education category and D, E & F are under Giving Back to the Profession category.
For each hour you spend in the category you get 1 PDU.
Category A: Courses from R.E.Ps, chapters & communities
Category B: Continuing Education
Category C: Self Directed Learning
Category D: Creating New Project Management Knowledge
Category E: Volunteer Service
Category F: Working as a Professional in Project Management
There are limits to the number of PDUs you can claim in each category.
If you exceed the number of PDUs in a specific category, the PDUs can be carried forward to the next certification period, which is great.
Seamus Collins has 18 years of experience in the Project Management industry, and has completed assignments with leading global companies in China, Argentina, Israel, Malaysia, the UK and the USA. He is also the founder and owner of Velopi, a PMI Registered Education provider that has helped hundreds of people obtain their PMP certification
Image credit, AGmakonts, Flickr