You Must Earn the 35 Contact Hours for the PMP Certification Only Through PMI R.E.P.?
This post provides the answer to one of the most frequently asked question for the PMP® exam: “how to earn the 35 contact hours of formal education on project management to qualify for the PMP® Certification exam?” as the term “35 contact hours” specified in the PMP® handbook is not readily understood by most PMP® aspirants. In particular, as many training providers have advertised them as PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) as a zeal of excellence, PMP® aspirants may also get confused of whether the 35 contact hours must be earned through PMI R.E.P.
What is a PMI R.E.P. (registered education provider)?
PMI R.E.P.s are organizations that we have approved to offer training in project management and issue professional development units (PDUs) to meet the continuing education requirements needed by PMI credential holders. To earn the R.E.P. designation, a provider must meet or exceed rigorous standards for quality and effectiveness as defined by PMI. (quoted from PMI website)
Simply put, PMI R.E.P. are training organizations that are certified by PMI to provide training activities for PMP® holders to earn PDU. PDU earned through PMI R.E.P. can be submitted under the Category A PDU (i.e. without any upper limits for the number of PDU earned this way). As PMI is in contact evaluation of the qualities of the PDU activities provided by these R.E.P., it can be safely assumed that the training provided by these organizations are of qualities that meet the rigorous standard of PMI.
Must Contact Hours Be Earned Thru PMI R.E.P. Only?
The answer is a definite “NO”. PMI does not require the 35 contact hours to be earned through PMI R.E.P. only. In fact, unlike the ITIL® v3 Foundation exam and other certification exams, there are no “authorized” training materials for the PMP® Certification Exam. Actually, PMI has made it clear that there are at least six different ways to earn the 35 contact hours. Quoting the PMP® Handbook:
Verify at least 35 contact hours of specific instruction that addressed learning objectives in project management. Record all education hours regardless of when they were accrued … You can satisfy the education requirements by demonstrating the successful completion of courses, workshops and training sessions offered by one or more of the following types of education providers:
- PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)*
- PMI chapters or communities of practice*
- Employer/company-sponsored programs
- Training companies or consultants (e.g., training schools)
- Distance-learning companies, including an end-of-course assessment
- University/college academic and continuing education programs
*Courses offered by PMI R.E.P.s, PMI chapters and communities of practice or by PMI are pre-approved for contact hours in fulfillment of the educational eligibility requirement.
It is clear that PMI allows any types of “formal education” on project management to qualify for the PMP® exam requirements. The content of the formal project management education may include the following: project quality, project scope, project schedule, project budget, project communications, project risk, project procurement, and project integration management.
One thing PMP® aspirants should observe is that the 35 contact hours of formal education must be completed at the time you submit the application.
Then why PMI R.E.P.?
This is essentially similar to asking you: “why PMP®?”. It is a matter of quality. PMI R.E.P. must meet or exceed rigorous standards for quality and effectiveness as defined by PMI and are monitored by PMI from time to time. PMI R.E.P. are almost a guarantee of course quality. For the other types, you will need to assess the training organization yourself to judge if the courseware are up to your expectations.
In addition, though there are different kinds of education providers to provide the 35 contact hours, the only types of the formal education that are “pre-approved” by the PMI to fulfill the education requirement of PMP® are “courses offered by PMI R.E.P.s, PMI chapters and communities of practice or by PMI”. This will give you an edge if you are selected for a PMP® audit as part of your PMP® application process as PMI has inspected the courses by the training organization before, your 35 contact hours are guaranteed to meet the PMI requirements for the PMP® Certification exam. You will simply need to present your certificate of completion only. As for the other types of trainers, PMI may require you to provide the course outline, lecture notes, and even tests or exams paper etc. for PMI to assess whether your education will be approved.
The following is a list of advantages offered by PMI R.E.P.:
- Demonstrated alignment with PMI, the world’s largest project management membership association
- Pre-approved by PMI to offer PDUs. Certification holder PDU claims are automatically expedited for processing
- Qualifications are verified before acceptance and every three years thereafter through PMI’s quality review process
- Every project management course registered with PMI must be reviewed by an appropriate and valid PMI credential holder
- Verified focus of courses and learning outcomes
- Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification prep courses must be taught by valid PMP® certification holders
- Instructors must be current in learning methods and must continuously enhance their skills
- Courses must be current and aligned to the latest PMI Global Standards
- Verified mechanism in place for students to provide feedback on courses to the organization and PMI
- Demonstrated continuous improvement of courses based on student feedback
- Continuous quality improvement process and procedures demonstrated throughout the organization
All things being equal, it is highly recommended to get PMP® education (35 contact hours) from a PMI R.E.P. as this will spare you a lot hassles if you are audited.
What is “35 Contact Hours of Formal Education” Anyway?
The term “contact hours” is a bit misleading for historical reasons. In the past, the only way to get formal education was through classroom teaching in direct contact with the teacher/instructor. However, with the advancements in technologies, it is common nowadays to get education online or through podcasts. In fact, PMI has awarded PMI R.E.P. to many education providers with online teaching only. There are at least three ways to earn the “contact hours” as of today:
- Classroom teaching (PMP® bootcamps, lectures, face-to-face classes)
- Online learning (pre-recorded lectures or live lectures)
- Podcast (downloadable) learning
I got my 35 contact hours of formal education in project management through an online PMP® training course and I passed the PMP® audit readily. The most useful feature of the PM PrepCast™ is that I can download the whole course onto my Android phone (or iPhone, Blackberry, etc.) and listen to it while I am on the go.
Remarks: PMP® Contact Hours vs PDU (Professional Development Units)
Many PMP® aspirants may get confused on the terms “contact hours” and “PDU”. Some would search for 35 PDU to qualify for the PMP® exam requirements. I have even seen some PMI R.E.P. advertise that they can provide PMP® aspirants with 35 PDU for the PMP® Certification exam. This is obviously wrong.
PMP® aspirant need only to remember the following to understand the difference between “contact hours” and “PDU”:
PDU can only be earned after being a PMP® while Contact Hours are required for PMP® aspirants.
i.e. PMP® aspirants will need 35 contact hours of formal education in project management.