PMP Certification Candidates Need 35 Contact Hours or 35 PDU?

35 contact hours or 35 PDU?

For those who want to apply to the PMP Certification Exam and get the PMP title, “35 Contact Hours” (of formal education in project management) are what you will need, NOT 35 PDU. The PDU (the professional development unit) system is for those who are already PMP certified.

Are PMP Contact Hours and PMP PDU Equivalent?

I have received many queries over the education requirements for PMP, in particular, many PMP aspirants ask whether they need “35 PDU or contact hours”. I believe the confusion is caused by many of the PMP exam prep courses which claim that they can eligible to provide both “contact hours” and “PDU” (usually 35 contact hours and 35 PDU). Some even think that 35 contact hours and 35 PDU are equivalent.

The answer is definitely NO. It is true that “contact hours” and “PDU” can usually be obtained through the same courses, however, whether one can receive “contact hours” or “PDU” depends on their certification status.

If you are a PMP aspirant aiming to fulfill the required project management education requirement, you will need to have obtained “35 contact hours” before submitting the PMP application. You can read below to understand more about what are counted towards the 35 contact hours of formal project management education for PMP. (Tips: If you have never attended a project management course, you should try to find a course that will help you understand the PMBOK® Guide guide and prepare you well for the PMP exam at the same time. These courses are usually termed as PMP exam prep courses.)

If you are already PMP certified, you will need to accumulate at least “60 PDU” every 3 years (termed as the “renewal cycle”/”re-certification cycle”) to renew your PMP status. Each PDU is equivalent to 1 hour of participating in professional development activity in the field of project management. There are 6 categories of PDU in the PMP continual development scheme.

By attending PMP exam prep courses, both online and classroom-based, PMP aspirants can get the required “35 contact hours of formal education in project management” upon satisfactorily finishing the course and passing the final assessment while PMP who are certified before the current PMP exam version (i.e. PMBOK® Guide 5th edition) will be able to obtain 35 PDU (or more).

It is worth to point out that PMP can only earn PDU once they are certified. If a PMP aspirant has attended various project management education courses before sitting and passing the PMP exam, the “PDU” obtained will NOT be counted. PDU can only be accumulated from the date of passing the PMP exam.

Note: If you have seen some PMP education providers who can provide you “35 PDU” to qualify for the PMP exam, avoid them at any cost. How can they teach you how to pass the PMP exam if they get the “contact hour/PDU” concept confused. 

PMP Contact Hours vs PDU

The term “contact hours” as defined by PMI carries an ambiguous meaning. Historically, one needed to sit in a classroom in order to receive formal education. However, with the advancement in technology, education is now not confined to classrooms. Through the internet, students nowadays can receive top-notch education at the comfort of sitting in front of a computer in their home. The “contact hours” are not limited to “direct contact in a classroom”. In fact, there are at least 3 different kinds of formal education recognized by PMI:

  1. Classroom teaching (university courses, PMP bootcamps, face-to-face classes)
  2. Online learning (pre-recorded courses or live virtual lectures (webinars) ) / Podcast (pre-recorded downloadable) courses

You should be quite familiar with classroom teaching and online learning (perhaps you have experienced them first-hand). But most of us would not be too familiar with “podcast courses”.  In fact, I have never tried a podcast course before I got my 35 contact hours of formal education in project management through an online PMP training podcast course (PM PrepCast™). I was quite skeptical at the time of making the purchase of PM PrepCast™ (“will PMI recognize my 35 contact hours obtained through the podcast course?”). My doubts were casted away when I was chosen for an audit and passed the PMP audit smoothly. I even consider PMP podcast courses are the most flexible and cost-effective option to get the required 35 contact hours as the whole course can be downloaded to my Andriod phone (same for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia intelligent phones) which I can carry with me anywhere without any restrictions on network connection. The podcast PMP course accelerated my PMP preparation for several weeks!

Whereas the term “PDU” is the acronym for “Professional Development Unit”. Like many professional qualifications, the Project Management Professional Certification (PMP) by the Project Management Institute is not a perpetual certification. PMP certified individuals need to demonstrate their continual development/enhancement in their project management knowledge in order to renew the PMP qualification. Every 1 hour of participating in a PDU activity will earn  you 1 PDU which you can report to PMI for your PMP re-certification. In every 3 years, every PMP need to have accumulated at least 60 PDU in order to all them to apply for the renewal of their PMP certification. Failure to do so may result in losing the PMP title.

Conclusion: 35 Contact Hours are What You Need

If you are a PMP aspirant aiming to get the “PMP” title after your name, you will need “35 Contact Hours of formal project management education”. Don’t choose just any project management education, choose “PMP exam prep” courses that will give you the required 35 Contact Hours and help you prepare for your PMP exam at the same time. PMP exam prep courses are based on the PMBOK® Guide guide as well as current project management best practices which you will need to learn well in order to pass the PMP exam.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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