Understanding what PDH credits are and how they can be accrued and applied can have several positive impacts on career track in certain fields.
Many professional licenses and certifications require their holders to renew and refresh their skills and knowledge on a yearly basis and this time spent studying or training is commonly measured in PDH (Professional Development Hours) and/or CEUs (Continuing Education Units).
For example, Professional Engineers are required by many state licensing boards to attend professional development and continuing education courses on a yearly basis. PDHs and CEUs are simply units of measurement meant to track those hours spent learning, or "contact hours".
- 1 contact hour = 1 PDH
- 10 contact hours = 1 CEU
- 10 PDHs = 1 CEU
But that's not always the case. PDHs are awarded by the state board or agency for a given profession, but the requirements for a CEU are specific to the individual certification or license of the state.
CEUs are nationally recognized and standardized, so qualification is stricter. For each, it's wise to check with the institution awarding or recognizing your PDH or CEU to verify that your contact hours will be accepted. Additionally, by researching the institutions which certify ongoing education in your field, you may be able to find free continuing education resources. For example, critical care nurse practitioners can accrue training hours through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
Possible Development and Education Activities
Again, what qualifies as "professional development" or "continuing education" varies by profession, state, and institution. In any case, the "contact" activity must always strengthen, improve, or expand the skills necessary for your profession. Here are some possible ways to earn your contact hours:
- Training programs
- Society meetings
- Teaching & presenting
- Publishing papers & books
- Earning a patent
Frequently Asked Questions About PDH and CEU Requirements
Here is a list of frequently asked questions that will hopefully help to clarify the uses and rules of earning PDHs and CEUs, and how to obtain them:
Q: What professions use PDHs and CEUs to measure education and development?
A: Any profession can use these units of measurement, but they are more common among professions that offer or require a license or certification. Some examples includes CPAs, finance advisors, interior designers, engineers, nurses, lawyers, doctors, and real estate agents.
Q: Where can I take PDH and CEU approved classes?
A: Colleges, universities, and professional organizations may all offer PDH and CEU accredited classes. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there claiming to offer CEU classes, so be sure the institution is legitimate.
Q: How do I calculate portions of an hour towards my total PDHs and CEUs?
A: To calculate 1 PDH, round to the nearest half hour. For example, 40 minutes = .5 PDH, and 50 minutes = 1 PDH. However, no single activity lasting less than 30 minutes is accepted. Therefore, 20 minutes = 0 PDH. For CEUs, generally any activity that is less than an hour will not be accepted, so check with your CEU accredited institution.
Q: What sort of institutions are qualified to award CEUs?
A: Any institution that has been accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education & Training (IACET) can award CEUs. This may include colleges, universities, companies, and other organizations.
Q: Why don't PDHs always transfer to CEUs?
A: CEUs are nationally recognized, and must be awarded by an accredited institution that has undergone extensive vetting regulated by the IACET. So, just because you have 10 contact hours, and earned 10 PDHs, doesn't mean you will be able to translate that into 1 CEU.