Obtaining your Project Management Processional (PMP)® Certification is a lot more than reading the PMBOK® Guide, it is also involves completing the PMP® Exam application, which can be a time consuming sometimes confusing process. In completing the education requirements section, you see that you need at least 35 contact hours. So, what exactly are contact hours, why do you need them, and what do you need to do to obtain them? Contact hours are not the same as a Professional Developmental Units (PDUs), you need to have at least 35 contact hours of prior to the completion of your application be eligible to take the PMP® Exam, whereas once you obtain our PMP® Certification, you will need 60 PDUs every three years to maintain the certification.
All of the hours you want to use towards contact hours must be in the form of a formal project management training or course work. Approved project management-related topics include project quality, project budget, project risks, project scope, project communications, project procurement, and project integration management. This training or course work also must require that you demonstrate successful understanding and completion. If you have taken training or course work in the past that would count towards the contact hours you need — even if it was 10, 15, or 20 years ago, it still counts as long as you have the documentation confirming your attendance.
There are six categories of providers available from which you can obtain training or course work to meet the 35 contact-hour educational requirement to submit an application to take the PMP® Exam.
Category A – PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)
Take some training through a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). These courses can be easily located on the Project Management Institute (PMI) website under the “Professional Development” section where you can search for a specific activity or provider based on such requirements as your location, the type of training you are looking for, keywords, and language. Training taken from one of PMIs Registered Education Providers is usually pre-approved to meet PMIs education requirements for contact hours.
Category B – PMI Chapters or Communities of Practice
Participate in a training activity provided by one of PMIs many Chapters or Communities of Practice (CoP). Check out the schedule of your local PMI Chapter; many offer low cost training opportunities that you can count toward your 35 contact hours. Attending a PMI Chapter does not qualify for contact hours unless at least one hour of that meeting is dedicated to a training activity. There are also many PMI Communities of Practice that offer training opportunities. CoPs are industry specific groups such as Aerospace and Defense, International Development, and the Utility Industry that focus on project management as it is applied in their specific industry. CoP information can be found on the PMI website under the “Get Involved” section. Any training provided by a PMI Chapter or CoP is pre-approved to meet education requirements for contact hours.
Category C – Employer / Company–sponsored programs
If your employer is providing project management-related training where you are required to demonstrate you have learned the material and there is a quiz at the end, you can claim each hour spent towards project quality, budget, risks, scope, communications, procurement, and integration management as a contact hour. Keep all of the related material just in case PMI has any questions about this training while reviewing your application.
Category D – Training companies or consultants (e.g., training schools)
Attending training provided by a training company, school, or consultant that is project management specific can be counted towards the contact hours you need. These are generally organized training events or classes where you are tested both during the training and upon completion. As with other non-pre-approved PMI trainings, make sure you keep the materials and any test scores just in case PMI has any questions while reviewing your application.
Category E – Distance-learning companies, including an end-of-course assessment
Taking a distance learning course is another method for earning your contact hours. These training courses can typically be conveniently completed from anywhere based on your schedule. It is important that the training is project management specific around the topics of project quality, budget, risks, scope, communications, procurement, and integration management and there is an end of-course-assessment. Make sure you keep a hold of any assessments showing you successfully completed the course just in case PMI has any questions while reviewing your application.
Category F – University / College academic and continuing education programs
Academic and continuing education programs provided by a College or University are another good opportunity to obtain contact hours. These courses will typically have an end-of-course assessment that you can use to prove you have successfully completed the course. You can only claim the amount of time you spent in the course on project management topics such as project quality, budget, risks, scope, communications, procurement, and integration management. Keep in mind for courses provided by a College or University that each hour you spend in class counts as long as it is spent on the appropriate topics. For example if you take a 10 week course where you meet three hours a week, that equates to 30 contact hours. Retain the course syllabus and any assessments for the hours you claim just in case PMI has any questions while reviewing your application.