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PMP Certification and Maintenance: A Truly Cost Effective Way
By Satya Narayan Dash

I was certified as a PMP years back when I was already into a management role and still continuing the certification for another 3 years from this year onwards. Like everything in this world, there will be proponents and opponents for PMP certifications. I had clarified on PMP Myths and Facts long back on it and would suggest that you read that article on PMHUT, before proceeding.

I have heard many times people telling that PMP examination is very expensive and costs come around $40,000 to $50,000 over a career of 30 or 40 years – all cost noted in US Dollars. Hard truth be told, it is another big myth which will pull you out from knowing some truly outstanding practices from the PMBOK. Having said that, PMP is NOT for people who have already made up their mind against it – out of lethargy or bureaucracy or sense of too late into the game.

PMP certification and examination, I’ll say no way expensive! Let me tell you why?

Let us first cover the certification part and then the maintenance part.

Eligibility for PMP

According the PMI website, to apply for the PMP, you need to have either:

A four-year degree (bachelor’s or the global equivalent) and at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.

– OR –

A secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent) with at least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.

I. PMP Certification Cost:

  1. Exam Cost

    If you are member of PMI, PMP exam cost will be $405 and for a non-member, it will be $555. Now, the membership for PMI will cost you $140. Added to that you might want to have a local chapter membership, which may vary between $10 to $20 dollars. So the final cost for a member or non-member almost turn-out to be the same.

    If you are not a member than you have to buy PMBOK (an ethical practice), which will be around $70 dollars. For a member, PMBOK is free along with PMP sample quiz questions (monthly), PM Newsletters. Other standard books from PMI for Program Management, Portfolio Management, OPM3 process etc. are also free.

    So, for all practical purpose you decide to be a member, which I’ll suggest, you pay $555.

  2. 35 PDU Cost

    Now comes the preparation part. You have to get 35 PDU and this where people go for some PMI local chapter, commercial R.E.P or a training provider, for those 35 PDU. What people do not know is – you can easily have 35 PDUs, if you already have followed the defined process groups as per PMBOK!

    However, for all practical purposes, let us say you go for a training provider to understand better. Now comes the interesting part of classroom training Vs online training. PMBOK can not be understood in 4 days or 5 days as the book is a mammoth one. I’ll suggest that you go for online training, on your own time and it is the most effective way. It will cost your around $500 from a good provider. However, if you still want to go for a classroom training it will be around $2000.

  3. Other Cost (Books, Practice Questions etc)

    Here comes the tricky part. I have spent $100 dollars to buy a well known book and that was enough. Buying another subsidiary book to get a good idea will be nice and hence the final cost will be $140. I really do not think you need to read 5 or more books to prepare for any exam.

Hence, considering all the above factors,

Total cost = $555 + $500 + $140 = $1,200 (approx.)

– OR – For a classroom training, it will be $555 + $2000 + $100 = $2,650 (approx.)

II. PMP Maintenance Cost:

For PMI certification to be maintained, you need to have 60 PDU over a period of 3 years. And let us say you have a career of over 40 years.

Let us consider one cycle – which is 3 years. You need not spend a single penny on maintenance cost! How? Here, you need to remember only one rule – 1 hour of project management learning equals to 1 PDU.

  1. If you are in a project management related job, you can claim 45 PDU in a 3 year cycle. It is under Category F PDU and your proof of employment is enough for PMI.
  2. Let us say for recession or job cuts, you can not accumulate those 45 PDU. In such a case, if you have attended any seminar, webinar, symposium etc and I am certain without a job, you can easily accumulate around 30 PDU, which fall under Category B.

  3. To make up for rest of the PDU, you can easily go for other PDU which is writing a management article, co-authoring a paper, even authoring a blog in a known organization etc. can give you 45 PDU in a 3 year cycle. It is under Category D.

  4. Still if you cannot make up, self directed learning such as watching videos, reading articles, books et al can fetch you up-to 30 PDU in a cycle. It is under Category C.

  5. With all these, still you are in want of PDU, volunteer services with PMI or any other professional management association can fetch you up-to 45 PDU. And this falls under Category F.

It must be noted that I have not mentioned the Category-A PDU, for which typically you have to pay.

With all these options for PDU, I really do not believe in anyway that accumulating 60 PDU in a 3 year cycle is very difficult, without a hole in your pocket.

Now, if you do not want to read or watch educational video or write an article or author a white paper or even minimally do a community service, you should seriously relook on the management job you are in. Added to that you are considering a job in a manager role in a high knowledge intensive 21st century! You might be in a wrong job in the 1st place!

I have not spent a single penny for my 60 PDU in my last cycle and for my next cycle also, I am not going to pay a single penny. And for my next cycle, I have already covered over half the PDU needed, without paying a penny so far.

It is up-to you on how you spend your money and how you choose to invest.

Satya Narayan Dash is management professional with around 11 years of experience. He has been associated with companies such as Motorola, Subex, Wipro, Zoho in various roles of Program Manager, Project Manager, PMO and Technical Project Leader. He has coached, mentored, and consulted over a thousand of Project Management, Consulting, PMO professionals across the globe. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India and is a certified PMP® from PMI®, a certified MSP® from Microsoft®, a certified CSM® from Scrum Alliance® and also a certified Java professional. His web presence is at and he can be contacted at

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