What is the difference between PMP Contact Hours and PDUs?

Know the difference between Contact Hours and PDUs?If you are working toward a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, you may have wondered “What is the difference between Contact Hours and Professional Development Units (PDUs)?”

The main difference between Contact Hours and PDUs is that Contact Hours are accumulated prior and PDUs after your PMP Exam. Before the exam you need 35 Contact Hours and after you become a certified PMP, you will need to accumulate 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every three years to keep your certification current. However the content of the training can be identical.

The Contact Hours Requirement

Only 35 Contact Hours are a required to apply for the PMP certificate. One Contact Hour is equivalent to 60 minutes of relevant project management instruction. You must complete all 35 hours prior to submitting your PMP Certification application. In order to be “relevant,” the training must cover one or more of the following:

  • Project Quality
  • Project Scope
  • Project Schedule
  • Project Budget
  • Project Communications
  • Project Risk
  • Project Procurement
  • Project Integration Management

Accumulating and Tracking Your Contact Hours

Contact Hours are earned by attending Project Management relevant instruction. Unlike the Project Management Experience hours, there is no specified time period prior to your PMP application in which you had to complete your 35 Contact Hours. Any class you took at any age could be counted as Contact Hour so long as it had some project management practices

For example, if your company provided training to use their project management software such as MS Project, Primavera, QTask, or Prolog, you could claim Contact Hours.

Ideally, it is easier to track Contact Hours accumulated from “Project Management” focused instruction. However, any course that includes some project management instruction, the time spent specifically on project management concepts and practices, is eligible, even if it was not the main theme of the course.

Remember that anything on your PMP Exam Application is subject to audit. So, it is a good practice to only include training for which you are prepared to submit proof. As you accumulate training, document the training’s relevance by retaining copies of the course syllabus, class catalog page and other materials. For each course claimed, also document your successful completion by retaining copies of certificates, exam results, and/or class transcripts.

Contact Hours Education Providers

Training is available in many formats. The course work might be presented in live classes, workshops or webinars. They might also include prerecorded podcasts or video.

In the PMP Handbook, the Project Management Institute (PMI) suggests that Contact Hours be obtained from one of the following types of education providers:

  • PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)*
  • PMI component organizations *
  • Employer/company-sponsored programs
  • Training companies or consultants (e.g., training schools)
  • Distance-learning companies which include end-of-course assessments
  • University/college academic and continuing education programs

PMP Contact Hours Preapproved Sources

Contact Hour eligible training courses are preapproved when they are provided by PMI R.E.P.s, PMI components organizations (e.g. local PMI chapters, specific interest groups), or PMI itself.

However, there are caveats. For example, PMI chapter meetings are not Contact Hours. Only the portion of the meeting that conducts a learning activity can be counted toward Contact Hours.

Basically, any resource offering relevant subject matter qualifies so long as it’s not “self-directed learning.” For example, reading books, watching instructional videos or sessions with coaches or mentors, are not eligible as Contact Hours.

Contact Hour programs

PMP Prep Workshops are offered in a mix of timelines, media and sources. Most PMI Chapters and many training companies offer instructor-led PMP Exam workshops. There is a variety of self study programs which are delivered via the internet, DVD and Podcast. What most of these courses have in common is that they are specifically designed to give you the best preparation for your PMP Exam as well as your 35 Contact Hours in one offering.

Online PMP Exam Prep Classes with Contact Hours

Here is probably the most important tip for you when it comes to earning your pre-exam Contact Hours online: If you take an online class, live or prerecorded, the provider must give you an "End of course assessment" exam before they give you the certificate for the hours. If they don't test you then any certificate or other proof of completion is worthless for your PMP Exam.

Watch this YouTube video to know more about the difference and explores the many ways in which you can earn Contact Hours.