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Do you need PDUs for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certificate? Yes, you do!

In this article I’ll explain what this means for CAPM certification holders and how you can maintain your credential without having to take the exam again.

Spoiler: If you already know you need them and don’t want to read on, here’s my recommended all-in pack of PDUs for CAPM certificate holders.

What’s the story about PDUs for CAPM?

As of 1 October 2020, CAPM® certification holders need to earn professional development units (PDUs) to maintain their credential. This is hardly news now, but if you’ve held your certificate for some time, it’s relevant.

Previously, CAPM holders had to take the exam every 5 years. Frankly, if you are working in a project delivery capacity, after 5 years you will have enough experience to go for your PMP® certificate, so I’m not sure how many people bothered to re-take the CAPM exam.

Either way, it doesn’t matter anymore. The requirement to take the exam again has gone!

Why did the renewal requirement change?

PDUs are a way to prove that certification holders are continuing to build their professional skills. This goes for all kinds of professional organizations, not just PMI. Many professional bodies have a requirement for members holding designations and post-nominal letters to maintain their knowledge at a current standard.

I think the switch was a good thing. It’s easier to manage (for us and for PMI) and also shows that people are taking an active interest in the project management profession.

In other words, you can no longer take the test, do nothing in project management for 5 years, and then take the exam again. That doesn’t convince an employer that you are interested and committed to the project profession.

And let’s be honest, the PDU requirements for CAPM are minuscule, as we are about to see.

Also, there are plenty of easy ways to earn PDUs — more on that below.

Elizabeth Harrin typing on a laptop next to a pink notebook

How many PDUs do you need for CAPM?

You need 15 PDUs over 3 years.

There is a transition period. If you passed your exam on or before 30 September 2020 your expiration date will not change. Your certificate expiration date stays the same and you have until that time to earn your 15 PDUs.

Once that date has passed, you’ll be on the 3-year cycle. As time passes, fewer and fewer certificate holders are going to fall into this category. When we get to 29 September 2025 everyone will be on the 3-year cycle.

You also have to pay the renewal fee to maintain your certificate – it’s not just about the ongoing learning.

How are PDUs calculated?

PDUs are calculated by the hour. One PDU equals one hour of professional development, and you can earn them in fractions of 0.25 of a PDU.

For CAPM holders, that equals 15 hours of continuous professional development time over 3 years (or 5 years if you took your exam on or before 30 September 2020).

You have loads of time to earn your PDUs. It’s going to be easy, trust me. And if you are up against a deadline for your recertification, I have an article on how to earn PDUs fast .

What type of PDUs do you need?

For CAPM certification renewal, you need:

  • a minimum of 9 Education PDUs including two in each Talent Triangle area: Ways of Working, Power Skills and Business Acumen.
  • a maximum of 6 Giving Back PDUs with a maximum of 2 for working as a professional and 4 for volunteering and creating knowledge.

Education PDUs are made up of formal and informal learning opportunities.

Giving Back PDUs relate to time spent contributing to the profession in various ways such as volunteering or creating content to help others learn.

CAPM PDU requirements

How to earn PDUs for CAPM renewal

Let’s look at some ways you could earn 15 PDUs for your CAPM renewal.

Option 1:

Earn: For doing:
2 Doing your day job and working in a project-related field
7 Attending a day-long project management training course run internally by your company
3 One hour of self-directed reading on leadership and business topics related to project management each year e.g. a relevant book or industry magazine or journal
3 3 hours of listening to The PDU Podcast

Option 2:

Earn: For doing:
2 Doing your day job and working in a project-related field – let’s continue to claim the easy PDUs!
13+ Study for your PMP exam with a course that gives you 35 contact hours AND counts as PDUs for your current credential

Option 3:

This option only includes opportunities to earn free PDUs for CAPM across the relevant categories.

Earn: For doing:
2 Doing your day job and working in a project-related field – this is a free way to get your PDU total going!
4 Volunteer for your local project management organization, for example the PMI Chapter closest to you. You should be able to manage 4 hours over 3 years doing things like signing in and welcoming visitors to an event, co-ordinating a seminar, introducing a speaker at a webinar etc.
2 Earn 2 Ways of Working PDUs for 2 hours of project management mentoring. Ask a more experienced manager to meet with you and talk to them about areas where you need clarification or support with regards to technical PM skills.
2 Earn 2 Power Skills PDUs for running or participating in a structured team building activity for 2 hours with your project team. Include a debrief afterwards either alone as a reflection exercise or with the team.
2 Earn 2 Business Acumen PDUs for 2 hours of reading. Look at your company’s strategic plan or industry magazines (not specifically project management related – ones that relate to the industry that you work in).
2 Watch webinars. Get started with these:
Tips for managing multiple projects
What it takes to be a successful project manager
Practical strategies for managing your work
2 Give a presentation. Prepare your material, rehearse and present. Respond to questions and follow up with attendees by sending out your slides, a satisfaction survey and any other reference material you referred to. That’s easily 2 hours of work for a 30 minute presentation.
The presentation could be to your internal team about a project success and what you learned from the experience. Or you could give a keynote at an international conference… it’s up to you!

Option 4:

This is the easiest way to collect your PDUs on auto-pilot!

Earn: For doing:
15+ Subscribe to The PDU Podcast and get video podcasts delivered to your device. That covers ALL your CAPM requirements in just one year, leaving you secure in the knowledge that you’ve completed all your re-certification activity with lots of time to spare.
Watch them over time or binge them all in a weekend, depending on how quickly you need to collect the units!
Tip: If you have other PMI certifications, any PDUs you earn for them can be applied to the PDU requirements for the CAPM certification. You don’t have to earn ‘unique’ PDUs for CAPM!

Whatever route you choose, it’s really important to learn ways to find time for continuous professional development at work so you can fit it in.

15 PDUs


CAPM PDU Package


$49

The PDU Podcast CAPM Package gives you fast, convenient access to the PDU learning materials you need. Simply add your subscription to your favorite free or premium podcast app, download the webinars and start earning your PDUs.

With The PDU Podcast CAPM Package you get instant access to 10 high-quality webinars on curated topics, perfectly aligned to the Talent Triangle®.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad

Next steps for CAPM renewal

Ready to take the next steps in earning your PDUs for CAPM? Here’s what you should do next:

  • Download the CCR Handbook from PMI. It’s got a lot of useful information and you should familiarize yourself with what’s required.
  • Sign up to The PDU Podcast
  • Put time in your calendar every 3 months to record what PDU activity you have done in the CCRS, so you stay on top of your professional development over the re-certification cycle.

Top tip: People often say that the Power Skills requirements are the most awkward ones, so here are some tips for earning Power Skills PDUs .

With a bit of thought and preparation, you’ll find it super easy to maintain your certification!

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how to earn pdus for capm

This article first appeared at Rebel’s Guide to Project Management

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