professional development units-pdu

If you are a PMP or preparing for the PMP certification, you have probably heard about Professional Development Units (PDUs) and wondered how they differ from contact hours.

Today’s blog post will explain PDUs, why you need them, and how they compare with contact hours.

The PMP credential expires after three years. Therefore, you will need to renew this certification for a further three years, then another three, and so on.

The PMI has developed a renewal system requiring you to learn skills, volunteer in industry events, and give back to the profession. 

Taking part in these tasks earns you PDUs which can use to renew your PMP credential for the next three years.

What are PDUs (Professional Development Units)?

PDU stands for Professional Development Unit. 

According to the PMI, “Professional Development Units (PDUs) are one-hour blocks of time that you spend learning, teaching others, or volunteering.” These are the criteria used to quantify approved learning and professional service activities.

As discussed, the PMP certification is valid for three years. You must earn 60 PDUs and report them to PMI to renew your credential, known as the CCR cycle.

If you attend a course and learn project management skills, you can claim PDUs. One PDU is equal to one hour of activity.

The PDU requirement for each PMI certification is as follows:

pdu - professional development unit

On December 1, 2015, PMI introduced the Talent Triangle for the CCR cycle. The Talent 

Triangle features three distinct areas where you must earn PDUs: technical project management, leadership, and strategic and business management. 

You must earn a certain number of PDUs in each area to fulfill the renewal requirements. The Talent Triangle structure ensures you gain comprehensive professional continuing education every three years.

If you are looking for 60 free PDUs to renew your PMP credential, you can read my blog post on “How to Get 60 PDUs for Free.”

Why Do You Need PDUs?

The PMP certification is the most popular certification for project professionals. PMI has to maintain the credibility of its certification and ensure that PMP certification holders are always updated and current with the latest industry trends.

PMI requires PDUs so that PMP credential holders spend at least 60 hours in three years to learn about new technologies, tools, and techniques and keep themselves on the top.

The Difference Between PDUs and Contact Hours

Many professionals get confused between contact hours and PDUs. I was, too, when I was looking for a good 35 contact hours training program.

Contact Hours

You need 35 contact hours to apply for the PMP exam; it is one of three eligibility requirements. You cannot apply for the exam without these contact hours. Contact hours precede certification, and PDUs follow certification to keep your skills sharp.

This PMP training must be aligned with the PMBOK Guide and cover the PMP Exam Content Outline.


PDUs are needed after you become a PMP to renew the credential after three years. The PDUs reinforce your training and help you complete the CCR Cycle.

Earning PDUs is much easier than earning 35 contact hours. You can earn all your 60 PDUs for free, but you must attend formal training, a paid course, for the contact hours.

The PDU coverage is much broader than the contact hours; however, they should align with the PMI Talent Triangle.


PDUs are professional development units required after passing the PMP exam and completing the CCR cycle. The PMI has ensured you can earn these PDUs with minimal effort and expense. Keeping up with the CCR cycle helps you renew your PMP certification for three years.

Don’t forget to keep records of the PDUs you have claimed for 18 months after your CCR cycle because the PMI may select you for an audit.

Reference: What are PDUs?

Please refer to the PMP Handbook for the latest update.

Here is where this post on Professional Development Units (PDU) ends. 

Let me know if you have any questions on PDUs through the comments section, and I will respond to you.

Fahad Usmani, PMP

I am Mohammad Fahad Usmani, B.E. PMP, PMI-RMP. I have been blogging on project management topics since 2011. To date, thousands of professionals have passed the PMP exam using my resources.