Get PMP 35 Contact Hours Cheap with PMP Exam Prep Resources

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Last Updated on February 2, 2021 by andrewshih

Are you interest in finding out how you can earn PMP 35 contact hours as cheaply as possible?

In this article, I lay out all 5 options to earn 35 contact hours, from as cheap as zero dollars to the most expensive. 

I will also cover considerations for using free PMP Exam questions and a study guide to help you decide the resource you need to prepare for the PMP exam.

Disclaimer:  PMTraining, PM-Prepcast, Udemy, and Rakuten are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please review the full affiliate disclaimer

What qualifies for 35 contact hours?

With the introduction of the Authorized Training Partner (ATP) program in 2021, there is a lot of confusion, especially about earning the 35 contact hours required for the PMP exam. 

I asked PMI the following question:

Do those (cheaper) on-demand courses from Udemy and REP still satisfy the 35-contact hours as they claim with PMI? 

PMI’s response:

Any formal [project management/project scheduling/risk management/business analysis/agile] course can be used for contact hours of education on your credential application.

Courses through an employer, training company, college/university, PMI Registered Education Provider, PMI Chapter, or distance learning company are all acceptable. In order to be considered formal, the course must provide an end-of-course assessment and certificate of completion (or similar documentation verifying that you have successfully completed the course).

PMI also provides a number of online courses. A contact hour is one hour of time spent in the classroom environment, either in person or online. If you earn credit hours for a college/university course, the credit hours are generally equal to the number of classroom hours per week. There is no time limitation associated with obtaining contact hours of education. 

Applicants can record any education/training in project management, regardless of when it was accrued, as long as the hours were completed prior to your application submission. 

Please be sure that you still have documentation verifying completion of the contact hours in case your application is selected for audit. Though we cannot review course or experience information before it is submitted to us on a completed application, please note that there is no cost to apply for any of our credentials.

Contact Hours

Ways to earn 35 contact hours for PMP

Based on PMI’s response above, here are the five options for how you can earn the 35 contact hours.

College

Option #1: Leverage project management courses and formal training from school or employment.

Ideal candidate

  • You took project management course(s) in college.
  • Your company offers formal project management training, and you have proof that you successfully completed the course(s).
  • You have at least completed 35 hours of project management training from the past, and you have proof.

Cost: 0 dollars

PRO

  • You get the PMP 35 contact hours for free.

CONS

  • It may be harder to get the document and prove you completed the course/training.
  • You probably forgot what you learned from years ago.
  • These courses probably do not prepare you for the PMP exam.
PMI eLearning

Option #2: Take PMI free eLearning to bridge the missing contact hours.

If you already have project management training while in school or during employment, you may need a few more training hours to bridge the gap and satisfy the 35 contact hour requirement.

You can find the following eLearning courses on PMI website:

CourseCredit
Foundations of Change Management1.0
Project Management for Beginners4.0
Business Continuity4.5

Ideal Candidate

  • You already have at least 26 hours of project management training.

Cost: 0 dollars

PRO

  • The eLearning is free, even for non-members.

CONS

  • The free eLearning course only gets you 9 hours of training.
  • You will need to document your training and gather proof from multiple sources.
  • These courses do not help you directly in preparing for the PMP exam.
Online Course

Option #3: Take an online course from a non-ATP provider that satisfies the 35 contact hours requirement.

First of all, why non-ATP providers?

In January 2021, PMI introduced a new credential for training providers called Authorized Training Partner.  In order to be eligible for ATP, these training providers can no longer offer on-demand learning that satisfies 35-contact hour requirements and must provide live training using PMI’s official training material.  It is unfortunate for students to have fewer on-demand options.

However, there are still very affordable online courses for completing the 35-contact hour requirements.

Earn PMP 35 contact hours with Udemy

One of the most affordable option and highly recommended courses on Reddit by people who passed the PMP exam is Joseph Phillips’s PMP exam prep class on Udemy.  Joseph is a very knowledgeable instructor, the content is well organized, and the course offers an excellent overview for the PMP exam.

The course has been updated for the 2021 PMP Exam.

Joseph Phillips PMP Exam Prep
Joseph Phillips PMP Exam Prep

TIP: If you install the free Rakuten browser plugin, you can get an additional 5~10% cashback from Rakuten when buying courses on Udemy. Read Rakuten review.

Rakuten logo

Ideal Candidate

  • You are looking for the cheapest yet quality classes to earn 35 contact hours and prepare for the PMP exam.
  • Because the course is so cheap, it is quite common even for PMP aspirants who have 35 contact hours training from college or employment to take the class on Udemy.  The PMP online course servers as “Plan B” if PMI does not accept the project management training from the job or college.
  • You already have some or all 35 contact hours, but you are looking for a refresher course that helps you prepare for the PMP exam.
  • If you have no contact hours, this course will meet the 35 contact hours requirement and help you prepare for the PMP exam at a very affordable price.

Cost:

Most of the time, Udemy offers the course at a steep discount as low as $12.99.  Or you can subscribe to Udemy for $19.99/month to access all the classes.  Or you can try Udemy for 7 days free.  You can use Rakuten to get additional cashback.

Pro

  • The course is very cheap, or practically free if you are already a member.
  • The course gives you 35 contact hours and helps you prepare for the PMP exam.
  • Study at your own pace.

Con

  • The course content may not fully align with the latest Exam Content Outline to prepare you for the PMP exam.  These on-demand courses are not using the official PMI training material.
PMI on-demand Training

Option #4: PMI’s official PMP on-demand course

Most likely, you are aware PMI offers the official on-demand training program. 

I tried, but I cannot get much detail about the on-demand course on the PMI website or contact the PMI support (who just direct me to the PMI website). If anyone has details or took the PMI on-demand training, please comment below about the course.

Ideal Candidate

  • You want to learn and prepare for the PMP exam from the official source at your own pace.

Cost:

The PMI’s official on-demand course costs $699 for members and $799 for non-members.

Pro

  • You learn from the official source.
  • Learn at your own pace.

Cons

  • It is relatively expensive for an on-demand course.  With another extra $300, you can get live ATP training, including a premium exam simulator, exam pass guarantee, and all the study aids.
Live Virtual Training

Option #5: ATP live virtual training course

Attending the live training class to earn 35 contact hours and prepare for the PMP exam will be the most costly option.  The cost will typically go from $1000 to $2000.  I created a side-by-side comparison chart for the top live virtual class providers.  If you are looking to earn 35 contact hours as cheaply as possible, this option most likely is not for you.

However, you should be aware that ATP training is aligned with the latest PMI standard.  The training includes a premium exam simulator, plenty of study aids, instructor access, and much more.  If you add this all up, the total value is likely a better deal than the PMI on-demand course.

Ideal Candidate:

  • Your company sponsors the training, or you are willing to pay for it.
  • You can commit yourself to the class schedule.
  • You prefer to interact with a live instructor, get the most support, and have an exam pass guarantee.

Cost:  A Typical live training course will typically cost between $1000 to $2000.

Pro

  • Authorized Training Providers (ATP) live up to the highest PMI training standard.
  • Premier ATP has privilege access to the real sample PMP exam questions and helps you prepare for the exam.
  • The package typically bundles with a premium exam simulator and plenty of study aids.
  • Some ATP provides an exam pass guarantee.

Con

  • The live training class is expensive.
  • You must commit to the class schedule.
Online Course

Getting Free Support

If you are going for online learning, you must be comfortable study at your own pace without an instructor and classroom support.  The self-study should not be an issue for most PMP aspirants, and this is how I prepared and passed the PMP exam. 

If you need community support, the Reddit PMP forum is a helpful and supportive resource.  You are welcome to comment on my blog, and I will do my best to help you.

If you just want to learn about earning the PMP 35 contact hours cheaply, you can stop here. 

However, if you also want to learn about free and paid resources to prepare for the PMP exam, please continue reading.

Free PMP exam prep resources

There are also plenty of free resources available on the internet, including PMP exam questions, training videos, tools, games, and study aids.  You can find the collection of free resources at the bottom half of my complete PMP resource page

I regularly lookout for free and helpful resources and update the page.  Typically, there is an overhaul whenever there is an exam update, and it will take a while for the providers to update free resources.

PMP Exam Simulator

Premium vs. Free PMP Exam Simulator

Suppose you are not taking the training class from PMI or live class with one of the Authorized Training Partner. In that case, you should seriously consider getting a premium PMP exam simulator to help you prepare for the PMP Exam.

You are probably aware that most of the PMP exam questions are scenarios-based and not a simple test of your memory.  Going through the training course is easy until you have to apply this knowledge to real-life scenarios. 

It is essential to use realistic practice exam questions so you are not caught by surprise by the real exam.  Many PMP aspirants agree that using a good exam simulator is a critical success factor in preparing for the PMP exam.

Free PMP exam simulators

Is it possible to pass the PMP exam with free PMP exam questions and resources?

I would not rule out the possibility, but it really depends on your learning style.  The PMP exam simulator is one of the tools for preparing for the PMP exam.  For most PMP aspirants, taking plenty of quality practice exam questions is the best way to reinforce the learning and boost confidence.

Before you dive in using the free PMP exam simulator and questions, you should be aware of the common drawbacks of the free PMP exam questions:

  • The quality of these free PMP exam questions varies drastically from site to site.
  • Most sites do not offer exam-like questions; the questions are generally easier and test your memory.
  • The answer key may not provide a detailed explanation.
  • Lack of quality control and may have wrong answers and no support.
  • Most of the free PMP exam simulators do not offer a realistic online exam experience.
  • You need to track your own progress, and it is much harder to identify your weakness.
  • You may get false confidence from the easier free PMP exam questions.
  • Many of these free PMP exam question pages come and go all the time. It is hard to keep the list up-to-date.

If you want to try out the free PMP exam questions, you can find them at the bottom of my PMP resource page.  Ouf of this list, PM-Prepcast offers the most realistic PMP exam questions and answer key.

Best PMP exam simulators

A high-quality PMP exam simulator should meet the following criteria.

  • The questions must be similar to the real exam questions in difficulty and style.
  • Detailed answer key and includes reference to PMBOK and Agile Guide.
  • Functionalities to customize the exam including the number of questions, knowledge areas, practice or exam mode.
  • Ability to track your progress.
  • Provide a detailed report so you can spot and target your weakness.

Most PMP aspirants will take about 1000 to 2000 practice exam questions before taking the PMP exam. 

PMP exam simulator from PMTraining

PMTraining logo slim

PMTraining offers top quality PMP exam simulator with 1000 questions for just $68.  If you have a limited budget, PMTraining is a good choice. Read PMTraining Review.

PMP Exam Simulator from PM-Prepcast

PM-Prepcast logo

PM-Prepcast is the “gold standard” and highly recommended by project managers who passed the PMP exam on the Reddit forum.  This simulator costs $149 and has 2100 PMP exam questions with detailed answer keys and reporting.  Read PM-Prepcast Review.

PM-Prepcast offers a monthly coupon for some of the products.  Make sure you check the coupon page.

Study Guide

PMP Study Guide

If you pay the PMP membership fee, you can get a free digital copy of the PMBOK Guide and Agile Practice Guide, in addition to savings for the PMP Exam.  The membership is worth the savings.

As you may be aware, the PMP exam is not a test of the PMBOK guide; Instead, the PMP exam is based on Exam Content Outline, although the PMBOK guide is the primary reference.

PMI published a list of reference books for the PMP exam, and you can find the detail on my study guide page.

The only two books you must have are the PMBOK and Agile Practice Guide.  However, some PMP aspirants find it useful to get a study guide.  You can find the detail from the popular study guides from the link above.

Choose a learning path

I hope the article provides insight into how you can earn 35 contact hours for PMP certification at a more affordable price.

There are plenty of courses and study material out there, both free and premium.  You should know your most effective learning style and choose and combine all these study resources to help you earn the 35 contact hours and prepare for the PMP exam.

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