The Project Management Professional, (PMP)®, exam is a credential that establishes that a project manager has successfully passed a rigorous exam administered by the Project Management Institute, (PMI)®. This exam ensures that the project manager has a thorough knowledge of the PMI project methodology as well as a firm understanding of business ethics. The PMP credential holder has also received formal project management instruction and has extensive experience in the project management field. Even the application process for the Project Management Professional exam is very detailed requiring extensive proof of the candidate's background in project management. There is a significant cost for the exam. Study for the exam should take a minimum of 50 hours to ensure that the candidate is completely prepared for the complex project management questions. With the effort involved in the application and exam for the Project Management Professional exam, project managers who achieve the professional credential successfully complete an ordeal that does not need to be repeated.

Each PMP credential holder is entitled to renew their credential. During the three year period after the exam is passed, the PMP credential holder can earn Professional Development Units, (PDU), and apply them to credential renewal. The PMP can be renewed for an additional three years when 60 PDU credits have been earned. PDU credits may be earned in a variety of ways. Work in the project management field earns 5 PDU credits per year. Formal project management courses earn 1 PDU for each hour of instruction. Self directed learning in the project management field earns 1 PDU for each hour of activity. The PDU credits are available when a project management text is read, a seminar is attended or other similar activities are completed. One area that is often overlooked is negotiation training. This topic teaches many of the subtle points that may be encountered during a contract negotiation process. Many business textbooks cover the topic in some detail. Since many projects use contracted services, any time spent learning about negotiations is applicable towards PMP renewal PDU.

The PMP holder is also able to write about project management topics for PDU credits. Each article published in a project management journal is worth 15 PDU credits. There have historically been few publishing opportunities for PMP project managers who wish to take advantage of this PDU category. There are now some practical project management journals which are non-refereed and are internationally registered. Many have offered very limited publishing opportunities for project managers but some are more accepting now. By submitting an article for publication, 15 PDU credits, (fully a quarter of the required three year total), can be earned by the PMP credential holder. This is a good value for the costs and effort involved. Compared to other PDU credit categories, writing is very rewarding. Earning the equivalent number of PDU credits via formal classroom instruction may cost well over $1000.

Volunteer opportunities can also earn credential renewal credits. While this is an admirable service that many professional project managers perform, there is often a great number of hours that must be devoted as a volunteer. The rules for renewal credits in this category specify that an extensive commitment of time must be completed or no renewal credits can be claimed. Credential holders may want to volunteer the time that they can afford to give, but they likely should not rely heavily on this category of credential renewal credits.

Credential renewal credits are also available when the project manager attends a regular meeting of the local Project Management Institute chapter. These are usually organized as evening meal events in order to complement project management topics with social opportunities. Renewal credits available in this category are typically limited to one or two per meeting. This may seem like a low number of credits compared to the time requirement and the cost, but it does give a good chance for the project manager to network with their piers. For a cost savings in this category, many of the chapter meetings offer credential holders the option of attending the meeting and skipping the evening meal. This saves the cost of the meal. Project management professionals, especially those who are independent business consultants, will find that the chapter meetings give them a great chance to relate to other project managers in their communities. There are even possible business opportunities that can develop with contacts made at the meetings. Independent consultants often have a difficult time reaching their potential customers. They are busy with project management tasks and have little time available for cold call marketing. The chapter meetings are a great way to boost business. As with volunteer opportunities, however, many project managers find that the credential renewal credits earned in this category should only be a part of the sixty credits needed to renew the credential. For even more renewal credits, consider offering your service as a speaker at the meeting. This will obviously take more time but it will substantially increase the number of renewal credits earned. With careful planning, the topic of the meeting speech, and the preparation material, can often be used for the basis of a project management journal article. This would allow much of the activity to be used for maximum advantage of the project manager.

The PMP credential holder is advised to begin earning PDU credits as soon as they have completed their exam. While three years is a long time in which credits may be earned, getting an early start will ensure that at least 60 PDU credits will be earned in the time allowed. Everyone who passes the PMP exam will want to renew their credential via the earning of PDU credits as no one would want to devote the time, effort and expense of writing the PMP exam again. The best approach is to organize a file for your renewal credit documentation. Each time you attend a course, write and article, learn some project management related material, you keep a printed copy of the details. This would be in the form of a course completion certificate, an attendance confirmation, a copy of the project management journal issue or whatever else shows that you earned your credits. Some PMP credential renewal applications are selected for a random audit. By having an organized file of information that accurately backs up your claims of earned professional development units, you will have a much easier time providing the information needed to satisfy the credential renewal audit.