With the global economy encountering a series of upheavals, accounting as a whole must keep up. Certified public accountants (CPA) therefore need to keep themselves updated on the latest regulations and programs being implemented. Most professional membership organizations and state boards of accountancy these days thus require their CPA members to take continuing professional education (CPE) courses as a prerequisite for license renewal.

In most states, CPAs are required to complete at least 40 hours of CPE coursework every year. The number of hours completed will be converted to credits, which may vary in each state. The sponsoring organization must make sure that the courses it offers comply with the standards set by the state and approved by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

The subject areas covered by CPE courses include auditing, governmental accounting, ethics, business law and taxes. These subject areas are typically specified in the Statement of Standards for CPE programs. The CPA’s choice of CPE course will, however, be influenced by his area of specialization and the special cases considered in the state where he is practicing.

Every year, accountants are required to report their CPE compliance to their state board of accountancy. Other states are even stricter and require CPAs to report biannually. Sponsors are thus required to serve certificates of attendance to course participants as proof of course completion.