CPAs must periodically enroll in Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses to retain their licensure and right to practice.
CPE credits are awarded after a CPA successfully completes the courses they are enrolled in. Today, there are a number of different courses available to choose from as well as different options for learning, including enrolling in CPE online.
The Different Classes of CPEs
Taking CPEs are a fundamental aspect of maintaining and using the title of Certified Public Accountant (CPA). CPEs are designed in such way that they ensure an individual is building upon their professional competencies by participating in meaningful and enriching learning activities. The learning activities covered by CPEs generally fall into two categories: technical and non-technical.
Technical Learning CPEs
Technical learning activities are directly related to the accounting profession and can be taken in areas in which a CPA specializes in. These are intended to directly contribute to increasing your competency. Some of the areas of the CPEs considered technical include:
Auditing – These courses cover the principles and procedures of conducting a thorough, independent, and systematic examination of the operations, data, statements, records, and performances of an entity. CPE courses in auditing include General Auditing, Auditing and Reports, etc.
Accounting – These courses cover the knowledge required to maintain the financial records of an entity, both government and private. They typically cover the main principles and procedures of accounting including the analysis, verification, and reporting of all relevant records. Some of the CPEs available in the field of accounting include Forensic Accounting, Accounting Services for Small Businesses, etc.
Taxation – These courses cover the principles of tax planning and compliance. This includes how to prepare tax returns, ruling requests, IRS examinations, etc.
Non-technical learning CPEs indirectly contribute to a CPA’s professional competence. Areas of CPEs considered non-technical in nature include:
Communication and Marketing skills – These courses cover effective communication tactics required by CPA firms. This includes public relations, social media, customer communications, etc.
Personal management and development – These CPE courses are very useful for CPA firms. They cover topics on leadership, career planning, time management, the functional areas of human resources, etc.
Behavioral ethics – These CPEs are also essential for CPA firms and cover topics on personal ethics, ethical decision making, and ethical practices.
How to choose the best CPE for CPAs
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when looking for the best CPE for CPAs.
1. Look for variety – Every CPA needs to receive CPE credits to maintain their license. Be sure not to take courses just to meet your credit count; rather, choose from a variety of courses in order to increase your knowledge, abilities, and skills in the field. Remember, CPEs aren’t just for learning the latest regulatory updates in the field, they are meant to make financial professionals more knowledgeable in their respective fields.
2. Reputation of providers – Looking at the reputation of CPE providers will enable you to choose a course which is vouched for and highly ranked. Providers with higher reputations generally are more reliable, have better course selections, and employ more experienced instructors.
3. Different course formats – For many professionals, taking time off of work to enroll in a CPE course may not be feasible. Luckily, there are a number of different CPE course formats that you can choose from. CPE online courses allow students to access webinars and online course materials to gain their credits. Some of the best online CPE courses offer live seminars in which students can engage with instructors as well.
4. High quality instructors – Always try to do some research on a CPE course’s instructors to learn more about them, their qualifications, and what their teaching style is. Better the quality of instruction better would be your overall experience and satisfaction level.
5. Cost – When enrolling in a CPE course, the total cost must be considered. Different providers offer a wide range of packages and deals on courses. Be sure to compare different providers and see what deals they are offering. Once you identify a few providers that you like, you can make your final decision by weighing the costs and benefits of each deal.
As a CPA, choosing the right CPE courses takes both consideration and research. There are many CPE providers that offer a wide range of technical and non-technical CPE courses in different formats. When deciding which CPE courses to take, be mindful of the area of accounting you specialize in and determine which credits would be most beneficial to you. If you find yourself unable to attend a traditional CPE course, there are a number of providers who provide online CPE courses as well.