Continuing professional education (CPE) refers to ongoing training that is required in certain professional fields in order to remain certified. As a CPA, continuing professional education should be a lifelong pursuit that will allow you to retain your current knowledge and competency while also staying current with changes in the profession and obtaining new skills.
Although requirements vary by state, all licensed CPAs are required by their state boards to obtain a specific number of CPE credits to remain licensed.
CPE credits are measured with 50 minutes equaling 1 CPE credit. Luckily, since a variety of skills are required to be a competent CPA, there are plenty of fields to choose from when deciding which CPE classes to take. These fields include the following:
- Business Law & Management
- Ethics Courses
- Finance & Financial Planning
- Governmental Accounting
- Governmental Auditing
- Information Technology including Computer Software and Applications
- Management Services
- Personnel Management including Human Resources
- Regulatory Ethics
- Specialized Knowledge
CPE standards are published and maintained by two organizations; the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA).
The actual number of CPE credit hours that a CPA will need annually varies from state to state, so be sure to refer to the state where you’re licensed when determining the number of courses you’ll need to take as well as the required length of time for accumulating the CPE requirements for your state. For example, some states require 40 CPE credits per year, while other states require 120 hours over a three-year period, which allows you to take more courses in a single year, or skip a year entirely and then obtain the required CPE credits over the next two years.
While we’re on the topic, you can register for CPA Practice Advisor’s free online CPE conference, Ensuring Success, at www.ensuringsuccess.com. Professionals can earn up to 14 hours during two days, choosing the courses and times they want. There is absolutely no cost for attendees.
There are many ways you can choose to earn CPE credits, with both local in-person and online courses available. Be sure that your licensing state doesn’t pose any restrictions on any of the following options.
- Webcasts and Webinars: Webinars are probably the most convenient way to earn CPE hours. With flexible timeframes usually provided, and the ability to view the webinar from any location. There are several services that provide CPE webinars specifically for CPAs, including the following. AICPA offers thousands of webcasts to choose from, of take a look at some of the CPA Practice Advisor webcasts.
- Conferences: Conferences are another way to earn CPE credits. If there’s a conference directly related to your work, chances are it can provide you with some CPE credits. AICPA holds numerous events throughout the year, both in-person and online that offer CPE credits, while the CPA Practice Advisor offers the Ensuring Success conference that offers CPE credits as well.
- Self-Study Courses: Self-study and on-demand courses can be a lifesaver for a busy CPA. These courses allow you to access hundreds of courses at your convenience, giving you the ability to learn at your own pace and test when you’re ready.
- Attending classes: Be sure to take a look at your nearly college campus to see if they’re offering any classes in the areas listed above. If you prefer a more traditional means of learning, you can expand your education while getting the CPE credits you need.
- Creating Educational Materials: If you’re an expert in any of the CPE categories listed above, why not take a different route and create materials to teach others. Publishing an article or writing a book on a related topic can earn you CPE credits, as can delivering a lecture on a professional topic.
- CPA CPE Courses: There are numerous companies that offer a variety of courses designed specifically for CPAs. Multiple courses are usually for a flat fee, and you can pick and choose the ones you’re interested in.
Maintaining your CPA license requires you to actively continue your education. Whether it be through online or in-person methods, a conference or seminar, earning CPE credits helps ensure that you can continue to provide your clients with the high level of service they deserve.
The free CPE conference, Ensuring Success, will be held live on Dec. 8-9, 2021 at www.ensuringsuccess.com.
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