In order to obtain your certification, you need to obtain PMP® 35 Contact Hours of project management education. In this post, we will define what they are, how you can obtain them, and dispel some common misconceptions.
With the rise of project management education, how do you know if your education will contact towards for your PMP® credentials or not? What does ‘Contact Hours’ even mean? Are they the same thing as PDUs? These are all common questions that we get from students.
What are Contact Hours?
Before you can write your PMP® exam, PMI wants to see that you have 35 hours of formal project management education. They already know that you have the experience, but they also want to see that you have the formal education as well.
Let’s break down the definition:
One Contact Hour is 60 minutes of actual project management instructions. If you take a one day seminar for 8 hours, but your class took a one-hour break for lunch, you will only get 7 Contact Hours.
The education you obtain must be structured and related to project management. Preferably, the course follows the methodologies outlined in the PMBOK® guide.
Do Contact Hours Expire?
No, there is no expiry date on contact hours. Even if you obtained them 5 years ago, you can still use them towards your PMP® certification. However, since the PMBOK® did change over the last 5 years, you should purchase courseware that contains the most up-to-date materials.
What Does Not Count Towards Your Contact Hours
Networking events (even those from PMI chapters) – A common misconception is that all events held by PMI chapters count towards your Contact Hours. This is false. Contact hours must be obtained in a formal learning environment led by an instructor with periodic assessments of your skills.
Self-study or study groups – Although we would highly recommend you to join a study group, these establishments do not count towards your PMP® 35 Contact Hour certificate. Remember, these certificates have to be issued by an education provider.
If you are unsure whether your course would count towards your PMP® certificate, ask your education provider.
How to Obtain Your PMP® 35 Contact Hour Certificate
The PMI PMP® Handbook outlines 6 ways you can satisfy your education requirements. You must obtain your Contact Hours from one of the following 6 types of education providers:
- PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)
- PMI chapters
- Employer/company-sponsored programs
- Training companies or consultants
- Distance-learning companies
- University/college academic and continuing education programs
No matter which of the 6 types of education providers you choose, the course you take must meet the following criteria:
- There must be an instructor for the course
- You have a method of asking questions
- You have assessments throughout the course
- The course is structured and follows the PMBOK® guide
You must complete your PMP® 35 Contact Hours and obtain your certificate BEFORE you apply for your PMP®. You do not need to submit your certificate along with your PMP® application. However, if you get audited, you must be able to produce your certificate to mail it to PMI.
For more information about PMI audits, read this article.
Here’s an example of what a Contact Hour certificate looks like:
Obtaining Contact Hours for Free
Your employer – Many organizations will sponsor their employees to take the PMP® exam for free. Talk to your manager – you may be able to get your certification fully paid.
Scholarships – Some education providers offer scholarships to students. Check their website for their rules and criteria for scholarships before you apply.
PMI Chapters – Some PMI chapters or PMI themselves offer free preparation courses. Check their websites to see if there’s a free event near you or online.
At ExamsPM, we offer a free introductory course (usually once a month) that counts as 1 PDU. To register, simply fill in the form below. We will email you 24 hours before the course starts.
Contact Hours vs. PDUs
Although you may find these two terms used interchangeably, they are not the same. You obtain your contact hours BEFORE you take your PMP® exam. PDUs, or Professional Development Units, are obtained after you are certified.
The purpose of PDUs is to ensure that you are kept up-to-date with the latest project management best practices. You can obtain PDUs in a number of ways. You must obtain 60 PDUs every 3 years to keep your PMP® credentials. Here’s a detailed breakdown of where you can obtain PDUs:
- Working as a practitioner (8 PDUs maximum)
- Create project management content for the public
- Give a presentation in the project management domain
- Volunteer at a PMI chapter
- Attend an in-person or online course in any topic relevant to the PMI Talent Triangle
- Professional networking events
- Reading relevant books or articles
- Watching online or digital media
Can I obtain PDUs before I complete my PMP®?
No. You start accumulating your PDU hours after you are PMP® certified. The purpose of it is for you to stay up-to-date with the changes in the project management community. It does not make sense if you obtain PDUs before you obtain your PMP®.
In-person vs. Online
There are advantages and disadvantages to taking in-person and online PMP® prep courses. In the table below, we compare and contrast the two different methods of obtaining your Contact Hours.
|Advantages||– Close interaction with instructor
– Opportunities for face-to-face networking
|– Can be viewed anywhere, anytime
– Can re-watch course material at anytime
– Cost effective
– Requires time off of work or time away from family/friends
– Cannot re-watch material
|– Less networking opportunities
– Staying self-motivated
How can my hours be tracked through online courses?
At ExamsPM, our courseware can track which lectures you’ve viewed and completed. In this way, we can track how many hours you’ve spent viewing the lectures. Our course is structured into 10 modules, and it is designed to help you get certified in the least time possible. Once you’ve viewed all the lectures (35 hours), you will get your PMP® 35 Contact Hour certificate.
In this post, we covered how you can obtain your 35 Contact Hours for your PMP® exam. This education requirement must be satisfied before you can write your exam.
Your Contact Hours certificate will never expire. After you’ve obtained it, you can choose to write your PMP® exam whenever you want. However, we would recommend that you write your exam sooner than later because all the material is still fresh in your head.
You can earn your 35 Contact Hours online or offline. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Choose the best method for you depending on your budget and availability.
Lastly, make sure you check with your education provider to ensure that the course will count towards your PMP® 35 Contact Hours before you register.