In the project management world, especially in the IT industry, PMP certification is the most sought after credential. The Acronym PMP stands for Project Management Professional. PMP is a globally recognized credential in project management. Many professionals are aspiring to get PMP certification to advance in their careers.

Before applying for the PMP certification, candidates need to attend training on project management that gives 35 PDU hours. They are also called 35 contact hours. As the PMP certification becomes more popular, options to acquire these PDU hours are increasing. Lot of options could be confusing.

The goal of this article is to demystify these PDU hours and explain different options and provide a comparative analysis to help you make the best choice.

The 35 PDU contact hours are a prerequisite to apply for PMP certification. You need to have formal project management training from a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P) to earn these 35 contact hours. These training classes come in different flavors. Depending on the path you take, earning these credits may take anywhere from a week to 10 weeks. The price could also range from $100 to $2500 depending on your choice.

The scope and content of all the PMP certification training courses are pretty much the same. They include full coverage of the PMBOK guide with all process groups, knowledge areas and ITTOs. Most training providers also offer a collection of study aids such as formula cheat sheets, memory aids to remember different topics etc. In addition, these courses include practice exams to test your knowledge and application of PMBOK guide to real world situations.

There are mainly three types of training courses

  • PMP Boot Camps: One week
  • Regular Weekly Classes: About 10 weeks
  • E-Classes: Variable time

PMP Boot Camps

The PMP Boot camps are for the fast track folks. This is a 4-5 day full day class with lot of materials covered in very short time. These are instructor led classes where a group of people study and discuss PMP certification materials in a classroom environment.

Advantages of PMP Boot camps

    • Suitable for people in a hurry to get certified
    • You earn 35 PDUs just in a week
    • If you already know PMBOK guide, you can use boot camps as quick refreshers

    Disadvantages of PMP Boot camps

      • Absorbing large amount of information in very short period may be overwhelming
      • Hard to focus on the subject and concentrate all day for 4-5 days
      • These are expensive. Classes may run between $1500 to upwards of $2500.

      Regular Weekly Classes

      These are traditional PMP certification training classes. They normally have four hour class once a week. PMP knowledge areas and process groups are covered on a weekly basis. The class runs for about 10 weeks. These are instructor led classes where a group of people study and discuss PMP certification materials in a classroom environment.

      Advantage of Weekly classes

        • These classes cover the material at a steady pace which gives you enough time to absorb the content.
        • This is a classroom type of environment where you can interact with others and exchange ideas and learn.

        Disadvantages of Weekly Classes

          • 10 Weeks sometime may give a feeling of class taking forever
          • Unless you do the homework, you may miss the continuity between classes
          • These are expensive too. Classes may run between $1500 to upwards of $2000.

          The E-Classes

          These are new generation classes attracting more and more folks recently. As the name suggests, these classes deliver the course content in electronic format. You will get both video and audio content covering all areas to meet 35 PDU requirements.

          When I prepared for my PMP certification I didn't know about any E-Classes. So, I ended up taking weekly class that lasted for 10 weeks. It was a good class. However, now, after reviewing some good E-Classes, I really wish I knew about them for my preparation.

          Advantages of E-Class

          The electronic format comes with several huge advantages.

          Learn On the Go!

          With electronic format, you can easily learn on the go. Most of the PMP aspirants have full time job and other commitments. Anything that helps save time is a bonus. You can load the audio onto your iPod or ant other mp3 player and listen to them while driving, walking, and working out and virtually anywhere!

          Pause-Rewind-Forward option

          This is a blessing in itself. PMP examination requires you to thoroughly understand the concept. This is not simple stuff. Having access to the contents/presentations in electronic format, allows you to stop and take a break or re-watch something you didn't understand and so on. This gives the complete flexibility to learn the way you like.

          For me, It was almost a year between the class and the exam. I had pretty much lost what I had learnt in the class. I badly needed refresh. But, once done I had no chance to take the class again. The new electronic class addresses this issue.

          The Cost Factor

          I had paid $1500.00 for my 10 week course. I am amazed to see how inexpensive today's best E-Classes are. The most popular for PMP Certification today is from Project Management Prepcast which costs just $100.00!!!. That is less than 7% of what I paid my course.

          Not all E Courses are created equal

          As these E-Classes for PMP preparation gets more popular, there is lot of online PMP preparation course popping up. One should very careful in choosing the right course before putting the money. It is a good idea to check if the provider is a PMI R.E.P. R.E.P stands for Registered Education Provider. That means, PMI has reviewed their course material and put their stamp on it.

          Disadvantages of E-Classes

            • There is no manual interaction with the teacher or other candidates
            • Opportunity to discuss and clarify doubts is limited to emails or forum discussions
            • Without real time-table or scheduled class hours, some folks may find it hard to pace the learning
            • Flexibility may lead to procrastination also
            Now you know what to expect from different types of PMP Certification classes. Choice is yours.