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How to Earn PDUs Fast in 2021

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Is your re-certification cycle coming to an end for your PMI certificate? Do you need to quickly get your PDU total up to the minimum so you can stay certified?

You’re in the right place! Read on for tips for how to earn PDUs fast.

PDUs are the Professional Development Units you need to earn to show that you are invested in continuous improvement and ongoing learning.

The PMI Continuing Certification Requirements guidelines are laid out in the CCR Handbook, which you can download from the PMI website. That’s a good starting point to review what you actually need to earn. There are different requirements for each of the PMI certifications.

But time is ticking… let’s get on with the 7 ways to quickly earn PDUs.

7 easy steps to earn PDUs fast

1. Review what you are eligible to claim

Have you claimed everything you are already entitled to? Check your PDU totals on the PMI CCRS tool as you might already have some logged.

Then review your calendar for the past 12 months (or go back further) and see if you have attended anything that you can claim for. Look for:

  • Training sessions or courses (internal or external)
  • Organization meetings like attending PMI Chapter events
  • Seminars
  • Webinars
  • Conferences (virtual or in-person).

Anything internal or external that covered project management topics could count, so make sure that’s on your record.

2. Claim for doing your day job

Did you know that you can claim up to 8 PDUs in the Giving Back category simply for working in a project-related role? Being a practitioner will earn you PDUs and you’ll definitely want to include those!

Note that you can only claim 8 PDUs towards some PMI credentials like the Project Management Professional (PMP)®.

If you are earning PDUs for CAPM or other certifications, do check the handbook for the exact requirements. Some of the credentials won’t let you claim that many for doing your job.

3. Buy The PDU Podcast

The PDU Podcast is a video webinar-based learning tool that I love because it gives you 60.5 PDUs over a 3 year cycle. It’s designed so you get a new video every month to earn your PDUs in bite-sized chunks BUT don’t panic: you can bulk buy the webinars and get a whole year’s worth in one go.

Of course, that means you then have to find 20 hours to watch a year’s worth of webinars, but if you can give up your evenings for a month, you’ll soon have a big batch of extra PDUs.

People sometimes struggle to earn the required Leadership PDUs, and The PDU Podcast can help with that too. There is a Leadership PDU package which just gives you the requirements for that part of the PMI Talent Triangle.

The other great thing about The PDU Podcast is that the PDUs are already approved by PMI. There’s a handy spreadsheet that breaks down exactly which episode relates to which area of the Talent Triangle, so you’ll save even more time recording your efforts in the CCRS.

4. Become a PMI Member

Not only will you get cheaper certification renewal fees, you’ll also get access to their own PMI PDU online learning resources – more on those in a minute.

5. Watch webinars

If you are a PMI member, get yourself over to projectmanagement.com and start watching their free on-demand webinars. You could watch one every lunchtime for a month – that’s another 20 PDUs right there.

Each online video comes with a description that tells you exactly what you can claim in each of the different PDU categories.

You don’t even have to spend time updating the CCRS: anything you earn by watching PMI webinars is automatically credited to your PDU balance. You should get a confirmation email a couple of days later confirming that your PDUs have been added to your account.

If you aren’t a PMI member, you can still find PDU webinars online. Here are some of mine to get you started:

Online resources really are a fast way to earn free PDUs.

6. Use your commuting or gym time

Look for time in the day where you could (safely) multi-task on some professional development.

For example:

  • Commuting on the train: read a book
  • Working out at the gym: listen to a podcast
  • Waiting for the children to finish swimming lessons: read a professional journal, many of which are available online if you log in to the professional body’s website
  • Cooking dinner: play another podcast
  • Driving to work: play another podcast.

There are so many options to squeeze in a bit of learning. If you need some more inspiration, check out my 15 easy ways to earn PDUs.

Digital media gives us so many options! This might feel like informal learning, but it still counts. Remember, you can claim PDUs in increments of 15 minutes, so even if you spend a quarter of an hour reading a book, you can claim that time.

Tip: Use wifi headphones to play podcasts while you do other things. I have these wifi headphones in a headband.  These aren’t the most pretty to wear during waking hours but they mean I can move around the house and still listen to podcasts playing on my iPad. I also wear them in bed and they are really comfy.

You’ll maximize your time and earn PDUs quickly if you look for pockets of time where you can be learning and doing something else.

7. Take an online course

I get it, you don’t have time to study for a new certification right now. But what if you could find the time to do at least a few lessons on a self-study timetable? You don’t have to take the exam for the study time to count towards your PMP® certificate holders wanting to quickly earn more PDUs is The Agile PrepCast for PDUs. It’s different enough to ‘normal’ project management to be interesting so you’ll learn something new.

Plus it’s delivered totally online so you can watch and listen whenever it suits you. Binge as you please to fill up your PDU hours!

And if you want to go on and take the PMI-ACP® at any point, you know have the foundations down.

Earn PDUs
PDUs with the Agile PrepCast
$229

Earn 40.5 PDUs by listening to The Agile PrepCast and learning more about agile tools and methods.

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Check with your company: they may reimburse you for educational materials.

Tip: Check if your company offers study leave for professional development and formal training. The biggest challenge with finding time to earn PDUs is having to work as well. Use your allocated study leave time to catch up on your PDU balance.

Create a Plan

You’re short of time, and the best way to get lots of things done in a short period of time is to have a plan.

Look at the suggestions above and choose how you are going to earn your PDUs the fastest way in the time you have available. Block out the time in your calendar to watch webinars and listen to podcasts.

Review what you need to get — specifically — because not all PDUs are created equal! For example, people often say that it’s hard to find ways to earn leadership PDUs. So if you need them, plan a way to get them.

Also block out time to report PDUs.

Gather Your Evidence

If you are earning PDUs fast, you’ll have a lot of similar dates in the CCRS. That’s not necessarily bad – let’s face it, many people leave their PDU recertification requirement to the last minute so I’m sure PMI have seen it all before!

However, it might make you more susceptible to being audited. I have no evidence that this is the case, but if it was me sitting in PMI HQ reviewing your application for renewal, I’d want to make sure that you actually did do all the professional development in the few weeks when you said you did it.

That’s why it’s important to gather evidence to support your renewal. Prioritize learning providers who can give you a certificate or claim code for participating in their learning.

PMI registered training providers are more likely to have a way of auto-certifying you for consuming their educational content, like those projectmanagement.com webinars.

Make sure your evidence is all there – you might need to earn them fast, but don’t scrimp on your PDU documentation because you’ll only be causing yourself a headache and a whole lot of extra work if you don’t have your records in order.

Change your approach going forward!

The whole ‘cram as many PDUs as I can in the shortest possible time’ approach isn’t sustainable long term! It’s a lot of stress and re-certification doesn’t have to be like that.

Think now about how you are going to pace yourself for the next cycle, for example considering what Chapter events to attend next year. Make a plan to earn and report PDUs on a regular basis so you avoid the last-minute rush.

Read next: How to make time for professional development.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK and the award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.

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