One requirement every CPA faces when maintaining their credentials is Continuing Professional Education, or CPE. Requirements for CPE vary based on what state you live in. However, generally you need to earn forty hours of CPE for CPAs. Additionally, at least four of those hours must be based on learning professional ethics.
It may seem like a pain, but CPE is an extremely important aspect of any career. Without this requirement, many professionals would find themselves working with outdated information. Consequently, they would make easily avoided mistakes. To prevent that, it’s important that every professional maintains their knowledge through high-quality continuing education courses.
While that may seem like a lot of work, it’s easier to earn than you think:
Because this is such an important requirement, there are many ways to earn CPEs. You have dozens of options being offered by a wide range of companies offering local and online courses. For your convenience, I’ve gathered information on some of the easiest and most common ways to meet your requirements.
Before proceeding, it’s important to note that your state may have hour limits for each of the following methods. Make sure to check your state requirements before planning out your CPE credits.
The most common way for CPAs to earn their CPE hours is by tuning into webinars. These are great because the time and place for watching them is extremely flexible. Plus you can watch them either at home or work, at any time of the day.
Webinars are typically given by expert CPA instructors and are offered by many different services. An example of this would be Surgent’s CPE programs. They offer over one thousand live webinars for the purposes of earning CPE. Additionally, these webinars also count as live events, so you don’t need to take any exams of tests to earn credit from them.
Another alternative would be going directly to the American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA). They offer thousands of webcasts that cover a wide range of topics and are organized from foundational to expert level.
Regardless of which provider you choose, webinars are an engaging and easy way to earn much needed credits on-demand.
If you’re attending a conference based on your professional work, you may be eligible to earn CPE credit for it. This is a great option because it allows you to develop your professional skills and relationships while maintaining your financial planning credentials.
Luckily, there’s a couple groups that offer conferences every year.
The AICPA has a list of over thirty annual events you can attend for hours. While attending, you’ll have the chance to interact with and get advice from leading accountants from across the country. If you have circumstances that make you stay close to home, you can still attend some of the conferences online. This is because all online conferences from AICPA are streamed live to your computer so you can still attend in spite of any extenuating circumstances.
In addition to the AICPA you may want to look into any CPA organizations based in your state. An example of this would be the CalCPA Education Foundation or any other state equivalent. These organizations tend to offer accounting and auditing conferences that are perfect opportunities for obtaining CPE credit hours. Ultimately, while they may not have as many options as the AICPA, what they do have will more than get the job done.
3. Networking Events
Networking events meant for building and maintaining industry contacts are also perfect for earning credits. Many of these events can be found through your relevant industry body or on Linkedin. State associations can also offer several of these events, so keep an eye out for any chance to join one during your day to day.
This is a big one; there’s a lot of CPE hours to be gained through self study. There are a myriad of training courses and products that allow your to earn CPE while developing your professional skills and increasing your value as an employee. This can be as simple as reading industry publications or as involved as signing up for a self study course. Basically, self-study is easily one of the most important ways to earn credit.
There are several highly regarded organizations that offer self study materials:
Once again, the AICPA has this covered. Their store offers over three hundred and fifty different self study materials at reasonable prices. Furthermore, their materials range from exams to textbooks to video courses. There’s a wide range of materials on access, so you should easily be able to find what works best for you.
5. Attending Classes
If you’ve exhausted all your online options or just prefer to learn in person, then it’s time to start looking at some in-person options for CPE. Several services offer live seminars and CPA CPE courses that you can attend to earn some much needed credit. These cover a wide range of topics and are given out all around the country, so there’s no need to worry about being too far away from everything on offer.
A great example of live classes comes from Surgent CPE.
Surgent offers almost two thousand live seminars every year for the purposes of CPE. Every topic and seminar is approved by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Consequently, each seminar is presented in conjunction with each state’s local CPA societies. Visit this page to see all of the available seminars.
But that’s not your only option for live classes. Keep reading to learn more:
College classes are actually eligible for CPE credits. A class on the quarter system is worth ten credits, while a class on the semester system is worth fifteen. Thanks to that this can be a very efficient way to maintain your credential while working on your education. Even if you’ve already finished school, taking a once a week class at your local community college can be a hugely beneficial boost to your continuing ed at the end of the course.
6. Creating Materials
Writing articles or books about your field can go a long way towards earning some credit. This is because the act of publishing materials related to your field is considered a direct contribution to your proficiency as a CPA. As long as your content is educational in nature, the time you put in to educating others is recognized and accepted.
It’s also important to know some of the technical details of this method:
Typically, one CPA hour is granted for each hour you spend creating your educational materials. However, you are only allowed to earn a certain amount of CPE credit through this method. Each state has their own cap for how much you can earn this way; make sure to check with your state’s requirements for this.
7. Deliver a Seminar
I’ve touched base earlier on attending seminars, but you can also earn valuable CPE credit by giving a seminar. State CPA societies need people to give out lectures and presentations and they reward people who do so. This can be as simple as speaking at local CPA chapters or as complex as teaching a course. Either way, this is an extremely valuable way to earn CPE hours since you’ll be developing your professional reputation at the same time.
If you’re interested in earning credit with this method, then contact your state’s CPA society. They’ll tell you how you can start becoming a discussion leader. Each state has their own requirements you must meet. Some states require certain credentials and others require you to have a certain amount of experience.
However, speaking isn’t the only way to earn CPE credit through working:
If you can’t meet the requirements or are feeling nervous about becoming a speaker, try signing up as a facilitator for a seminar. You’ll be in charge of sign-ins, distributing materials, and administering evaluations. Consequently, you’ll interact with both the discussion leader and the participants.
CPE hours are extremely important to maintaining your credential as a CPA, but they don’t have to be scary or difficult to earn. If you follow all of these tips, you’ll easily meet your state’s requirements on time.
Thanks to the wide range of opportunities, you can combine your requirements with the development of your professional skills. Don’t think of CPE as a dreaded requirement; instead, recognize that they are a chance to better yourself and increase your qualifications.
If you can do so, you’ll find that working on CPE is easier than ever!