Earning professional development units (PDUs) is key to maintaining your PMP certification. In this final article in's series on how to prepare for the PMP exam, you'll learn how to earn those precious PDUs.

Congratulations! You passed the Project Management Institute's PMP exam, and you're now a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)! Unfortunately, your PMP certification does not last for life. After three years, it will expire unless you take steps to get recertified.

The good news is, you never have to take the PMP exam again as long as you maintain your certification. Getting recertified shows that you're keeping up with the latest trends and best practices in the ever-evolving field of project management.

In order to keep your certification active, you need to pay a recertification fee ($60 for PMI members, $150 for nonmembers), and more importantly, earn and document 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years. PDUs are a measure of the time you've put into professional development as a PMP. PMPs earn one PDU for each hour of qualified project management instruction they receive.

In this final article in's series on preparing for the PMP exam, I'll explain how you can earn PDUs.

How to Earn PDUs

To maintain your PMP certification, you need to accumulate 60 PDUs by the third anniversary of the date you received your initial certification--and every three years after that.

The PMP Credential Handbook lists different ways to earn PDUs. In short, you can earn them through self-directed learning, by taking project management classes, volunteering at your local PMI chapter, giving presentations on project management, writing books on project management, and listening to podcasts on project management. You even get them just for doing your job. By working as a project manager for at least six months per calendar year, you can earn a total of 15 PDUs in three years.


How to Document Your PDUs

The Project Management Institute's Continuing Credential Requirements System (CCRS) is the place to report your PDUs. In most cases, when you are attending an activity that qualifies for PDUs, the organizer will hand you some form of a PDU receipt. Input your PDUs into the CCRS, and the system will track your progress for you. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to register your PDUs with the Continuing Credential Requirements System:

1. Log on to with your PMI username and password.

2. Select "Report Professional Development Units" from the panel on the left side of the screen.

3. Over a series of online screens, this option will allow you to enter the PDU category, activity type, provider name or number, activity name or number, the start and completion dates, your evaluation of the activity, and the number of PDUs you earned from the activity. It will also ask you to attest that the information you have submitted is correct.

4. Check the "I agree" box, then click "submit" to credit your PDUs.

Be sure to save all of your PDU supporting documents and receipts just in case you are audited.

How to Earn Free PDUs

There are dozens of ways to earn free PDUs and hundreds of resources that offer them.

One of the most rewarding ways to earn free PDUs is by volunteering at your local PMI Chapter. I have been an active volunteer in my chapter, and it has allowed me to network with my peers, teach PMP exam prep classes, find a job, improve my leadership skills, and (oh yes) earn free PDUs.

Another great way to earn free PDUs is by listening to project management-related podcasts. There are currently about 10 free ones available online, such as Ron Holohan's PM411, Mark Perry's The PMO Podcast and my own The Project Management Podcast. Start downloading their interviews, listen to them on your way to and from work, and earn up to 15 free PDUs.

Free webinars provide a third way to earn PDUs. You can find a PDU webinar happening almost every day of the year. Rico's List from Andi Levin and Julie Kingand and my own The PDU Insider will help you locate many free and inexpensive PDU webinar opportunities.

Be Proactive About Your PDU Requirements

Three years may seem like a long time, but it will pass in the blink of an eye. Don't wait until year three to start accumulating PDUs. Once you've earned your PMP certification, set out a three-year plan to accumulate your PDUs consistently over the next 36 months. Be sure to read up on the five categories of PDUs as outlined in the PMP Credential Handbook because the PMI imposes some limits on the number of PDUs you can claim from each category.

Plan to earn about 1.5 PDUs every month for the next 36 months, and you will not be caught short of PDUs in the last months prior to your recertification.

Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, is a noted project management expert with nearly 20 years of project management experience in various industries. He has helped over 11,000 students with their PMP certification with The Project Management PrepCast, a downloadable and portable exam prep video workshop. A former PMI Chapter president, Fichtner is currently an active volunteer in his local PMI chapter and a member of PMI's New Media Council. He is also the host of the Project Management Podcast and the PDU Podcast.