How to earn Free PDU for PMP Renewal

Tips to get 60 PDUs for PMP Certification Renewal without paying a penny
by Vivek Prakash


It gives a sense of achievement and accomplishment when you pass PMP Exam and get the certificate in your hand. However this is not enough. The PMP certificate is valid for 3 years and needs renewal every 3 years.

As described in PMP Hanbook and CCR (Continuing Certification Requirements) System, PMP Holders have to earn 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units) in 3 years to renew PMP Certification. Through this requirement, PMI wants PMP credential holders to stay engaged in project management activities, continuously upgrade them with new knowledge and give back to the society. However many professionals find it difficult to spare time for such activities in their busy schedule. They struggle to fulfill this requirement and spend enormous amount to earn PDUs.

Here I am providing some tips, tools and techniques to earn PDUs on regular basis and without spending any money.

I will start with the simplest one – Category C – Self Directed Learning

Part - 1 - Category C - Self Directed Learning

Self-Directed Learning – Cat-C is the simplest way to earn PDUs because you are not depended on any one. By simply reading a book, reading a blog, or just watching a video on any project management subject, you can earn PDUs.

Though this category is simplest but most unexploited. Why? I have found professionals are not sure how to claim PDUs when they don’t have any certificate or they don’t have any one who can witness. People are doubtful and anxious. They wonder if PMI asks for a proof tomorrow, what they will produce.

I will say PMI is generous in understanding the situation of the people and accept any reasonable proof. For Cat-C, PMI wants professionals to document what they have referred/read and what they have learned and produce these things as proof when asked.

Here  I am provide a simple but effective tool to use Self-Directed Learning to its maximum extend. Remember you can earn only 30 PDUs under Category-C. Below is a link to download a Self-Directed Learning Log.

 Download Self Directed Learning Log

You can use this log to document your self-directed learning activities and produce them when PMI ask you. Keep documenting your self-learning and fearlessly use this category to its maximum extend.

You can document, date, time, number of hours invested in learning, description of the material referred/read, what you learned and evidence such as link to blog/video etc.

Start right now using this category to your advantage. If you don’t have any reference material, please go to our youtube channel and start earning PDUs. Link to pmwares youtube channel

You can go to playlists and select the topic you are interested in. We keep uploading new videos. If you subscribe to the channel, you get intimation as soon as we upload a video.

Part - 2 - Category F - Working as a professional in Project Management

Working as a professional in Project Management – Cat-F is even simpler than Cat-C (Self Directed Learning) because you need not to do anything special to earn PDUs except your normal job in your company. However this is applicable only for the professional working as project manager or their primary role is project management.

Professional working as Project Manager, Delivery Manager, Senior Manager, Deliver Head, Group Head, Delivery Leader, Vice Precedent and President who are looking after projects in their company can use this category. CEO and Managing Director can also claim PDUs under it.

Professionals working as Architect, Technical Lead, heading a technical group or primary responsibility is technical solutions or technical support may not be able to use this category.

Though you can claim PDUs under this category without any additional efforts but the limit of Category F is less than Category C. You can claim 5 PDUs for working as a professional in Project Management every year (12 months) i.e. 15 PDUs per 3 years cycle. Please also note that professional can claim maximum 45 PDUs under Cat-D, E & F altogether.

So far using Cat-C & Cat-F, you can earn up to 45 PDUs without incurring any cost. Please watch out this space, I will add more guidelines to earn free PDUs.

Part - 3 - Category A & B – Attend Free Seminars and Webinars

This is another way to earn free PDUs and does not requires much efforts. Various companies, PMI Chapters, Management Associations and their chapters, various trade organization and their chapters often organize free seminars and webinars to promote project management in their respective domains.

Free Seminars and Webinars are normally from 1 hour to 2 hours. If you keep attending one such seminar/webinar of 1 hour every month, you accumulate 36 PDUs at no cost in three years. If you get 15 PDUs in Cat F (As explained above), you get over 50 PDUs and if you grab 10 PDUs from self-study, you are good with 60 PDUs. If you attend seminar/webinar of 2 hours every month then you get all 60 PDUs here only and you don’t need to do anything else. Cat A & B do not have any limits.

You need to remember that session is not on technical topic but on project management. If a Webinar or Seminar covers any project management topic and you attend it, you can claim 1 PDU for each 1 hour you spend attending the Seminar/Webinar. If Seminar/Webinar is of 1 hour, you get 1 PDU, if it is of 1.5 hours, you get 1.5 PDUs and if it is of 2 hours, you get 2 PDUs.

Also ensure to have one documentary proof of your attendance. Either you get a certificate or an email confirmation from the organizer so that in case of any PMI audit, you can produce the proof.

If the Seminar/Webinar is organized by PMI Chapter or REP, it falls under Cat-A and if it is organized by your employer, other associations and their chapters, consultants or education institutes, you claim PDUs under Cat-B.

Part - 4 - Category D – Write an article, blog or give a presentation

This is another category where you can earn PDUs without paying anything however work under this category demands efforts. There are 3 categories under “Giving back to profession” – Cat D, E & F. You have learned a lot from others’ efforts, now it is your turn to give back and help next generation to build competency in Project Management.

Under this category, you can…

  1. Write an article on Project Management for a magazine, newspaper, PMI Knowledge Base, Newsletter, Your organization’s magazine etc.
  2. Review an articles
  3. Write a blog
  4. Present a seminar or webinar
  5. Create a course or course contents
  6. Serve as speaker or instructor for a project management course
  7. Be a panel member on a discussion project management topic.
  8. Moderate a discussion on project management
  9. Write a book

When writing, you can be an author or a co-author and when presenting, you can present yourself or can be a co-presenter.

You can earn 1 PDU for every hour invested in above activities. It is not just limited to presentation, you can claim for preparation also. For example if you have presented a webinar of 1 hour and you invested 6 hours in preparing the presentation for the webinar, you can claim 7 PDUs.

You can earn maximum 45 PDUs under giving back to profession categories that means total PDUs claimed under categories D, E & F altogether cannot exceed 45.

You must keep copies of your publication, presentation, articles, course material you have produced and details of where it was published, presented or conducted. This will help you to respond to PMI in case your claim comes under audit.

Part - 5 - Category E – Being a volunteer

This is my favourite category. I believe volunteerism is most important characteristic of a leader. A person cannot be a leader until he/she is a volunteer. Pain and the needs of the society or community must infuse additional blood to take action with no expectation of any return. This is the leadership in deed, others are leadership in words.

Though this category does not require any money to be spend but demands time. It demands a share from your time in office and time with family. In return it gives you back qualities of a true leader, satisfaction, a sense of contribution, reputation in the community, broader network and many more things besides PDUs.

Under this category, you can provide non-compensated services in the area of project management to any group that is not employer and client. Here are your options in this category

  1. Serve as an elected volunteer officer for PMI, PMI Chapter and PMI Communities
  2. Serve as an elected volunteer officer for any other project management organization that is legally recognized as not for profit or charitable group.
  3. Server as appointed/elected volunteer committee members of a committee working for PMI.
  4. Server as appointed/elected volunteer committee members of a committee working for any other project management organization recognized as not for profit or charitable group.

Volunteering is a great way to grow your network, self-actualization and learn leadership skills. If you are already a volunteer, congratulations! If not yet, let’s go now to offer your service as volunteer. All the best!!

Happy learning, happy volunteering,  happy contributing and happy earning (PDU)


Rules of earning PDUs are changing effective from 1st December, 2015. Please refer following link for details.

Rules for earning PDUs are changing from Dec-2015

If you have any suggestions

If you have any suggestion that can enrich this article and help the community, please can send an email to me on dialogue at pmwares dot com

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Disclaimer Note

Please see CCR guide published by PMI for exact expectation from PMI and clarify any doubt from PMI. Guidance here is provided in the best interest of the PMPs to help them and making it convenient for them to claim PDUs. Author does not represent PMI in any manner and is not responsible if any claim is rejected by PMI or any action by PMI.