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CPA CPE Courses: How to Get the Most Out Of Them

The Last Self-Study CPE Website You Will Ever Need
 

Where You Should Start

With constant changes in accounting rules and regulations, you, as a CPA, are required to update your skill sets regularly. Pursuing ‘Continuing Professional Education’ or CPE demonstrates that you’re dedicated to providing quality services to your clients and staying up-to-date.

While there’re various methods to earn CPE credits, such as CPA CPE courses, conferences, webinars, authoring materials, etc., taking CPE courses has become the most popular one. Once you’ve understood the specific CPE requirements of your state board of accountancy, you can enroll in in-person or online CPA CPE courses to start earning CPE credits.

But regardless of the format, planning CPA CPE courses the right way often becomes a difficult task for many CPAs. If you don’t plan them properly, you may end up paying hundreds of additional dollars that can be easily saved. And in worst cases, you may not be able to meet your CPE requirements on time, which essentially leads to some serious consequences.

To help you avoid those situations, we’ve prepared this guide to make the most out of CPA CPE courses. Here, we’ll walk you through the entire process of creating the most effective strategy to pursue them.

 

 

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Understanding the True Benefits of CPA CPE Courses

When it comes to pursuing CPE, CPAs can be divided into two categories. First, some CPAs earn CPE credits for the sake of keeping their license active. And second, some see CPE as the opportunity to expand their knowledge and increase their expertise.

If you belong to the first group, perhaps it’s time to change your mindset. This is because apart from being a licensure requirement, CPE gives you some unique advantages. Let’s take a look.

  • Increases your credibility

When you diligently complete CPA CPE courses online or offline, it demonstrates that you’re serious about your profession and professional growth. It also shows that you’re ready to invest time, effort, and money to improve your knowledge.

In today’s highly competitive professional world, these are the characteristics that can help you stand out from your fellow CPAs, especially those who’re solely focused on earning credits. These will improve both your marketability and employability.

  • Helps to improve your professional competence

When you immerse yourself in a diverse range of CPA CPE courses on the latest and important accounting topics, it eventually helps to improve your occupational competence. By choosing the right CPE sponsor, you may get access to a rich collection of these courses.

Then you can tailor your learning activities according to your requirements and preferences. Whether it’s gaining knowledge in some specific areas that your present employer focuses on or learning some topics that you’re personally interested in – you can do it all.

  • Helps to polish your unused skills

In your effort to become a CPA, you certainly mastered many different topics and acquired skills to use them in practical situations. However, it’s also true that when you’re carrying out responsibilities encompassing some specific topics for several years, your knowledge of other areas gradually starts to fade.

No matter if you choose to take offline or online CPA CPE courses, these can act as refreshers while giving you the perfect opportunity to relearn the topics that you’ve forgotten. This will help you focus on your all-round professional development, and in turn, stay ahead of the curve.

Deciding Between In-Person Programs and Online CPA CPE Courses

If you’ve already started searching for CPA CPE courses, you’ve certainly come across two program formats: in-person programs and online CPA CPE courses. Each of these options comes with its unique advantages and disadvantages. Here, we’ve rounded them up to help you make an informed decision.

In-Person Programs

Advantages include:

  • Distraction-free learning environment

Focus and concentration are two key pillars of successful education. Classrooms typically create a highly focused, distraction-free environment so that you can completely dedicate yourself to learning – not to a ringing phone or a barking dog in the room.

  • Structured method

When you enroll in in-person CPA CPE courses, you’re bound to follow a set learning schedule. In these programs, learners also keep each other motivated and accountable to complete course modules and contribute to discussions. Therefore, even if you lack self-discipline, you’ll likely be able to complete the courses in a timely fashion.

  • Networking opportunities

In these programs, you can meet accountants working in different sectors and carrying out different responsibilities. As you interact with them, you’ll be exposed to different career opportunities, ideas, and experiences. That’ll help you build a robust network that you may leverage later on.

Disadvantages include:

  • Zero control over scheduling

With in-person programs, you don’t have any control over their timings and locations. If you’ve got a crammed calendar or your workload tends to fluctuate (a common occurrence with independent CPAs), attending in-person programs may not be a feasible option for you.

  • Higher expenses

The fees of in-person CPA CPE courses usually tend to be higher than online CPA CPE courses. Moreover, you’ll have to commute to and from the venue, which means transportation costs will also add up over time.

Online Programs

Advantages include:

  • Unmatched flexibility

This is one of the key advantages of taking CPA CPE courses online. If you’re a fast learner or pick up concepts quickly, you don’t need to wait on others. Similarly, if you need additional time to internalize a topic, you’re free to take it.

  • Convenience

No matter how busy you’re, online CPE programs let you complete course materials at your own pace. Whether you’re a night owl or an early riser, you can study on your schedule and from anywhere without a time-wasting commute.

  • Lower costs

The fees of online CPA CPE courses tend to be considerably lower than in-person programs. Additionally, you don’t need to pay anything for commuting. Both of these translate to substantial savings, which’s a notable perk, especially if you’re paying the costs of the CPE out of your pocket.

Disadvantages include:

  • Greater need for self-discipline

The absence of a strict class schedule pushing the learners to study the course materials regularly sometimes makes it harder to complete online CPA CPE courses on time. Therefore, if you lack self-motivation and self-discipline, you may not be able to leverage the benefits of these courses.

  • More technical requirements

If you aren’t tech-savvy but plan to take live CPA CPE courses, learning may initially pose some obstacles due to the programs’ high reliance on software programs. However, there’re numerous resources available to help you master these software programs.

And if you take self-study courses, it won’t at all be a problem. Many sponsors offer these courses in downloadable PDF versions. Once you’ve downloaded the course materials, you won’t even need an Internet connection to study them.

Now, it’s up to you to carefully choose an option depending on your preferences. As you can see, both options have their disadvantages. However, with online CPA CPE courses, they’re easily manageable, but when it comes to the drawbacks of in-person programs, overcoming them will be very difficult.

Choosing the Best CPA CPE Courses

If you’ve made a decision after reading the above blocks, it’s time to choose the best CPA CPE courses. But with a huge number of CPE sponsors and many of them claiming to offer the best courses, how do you choose the right ones?

Here’s a checklist to help you do this comfortably.

  • Multiple study formats

When it comes to the study formats of the best CPA CPE courses online, you’ll see two formats are offered by the sponsors: self-study CPA CPE courses and webinars. You should try to choose courses that are available in both formats.

If you prefer to learn in a virtual classroom setting, you can choose webinars. If you want to work on your own, simply go for the self-study courses. Depending on your learning style, you can choose the format and earn credits.

  • Quality of course materials

While price is definitely a factor, you should prioritize quality over it when you’re searching for the best CPA CPE courses. Thoroughly go through your chosen sponsor’s customer reviews, and you should get a clear understanding of the quality of its courses.

It’s also very important to check out whether or not the sponsor updates the courses as and when required. If yes, you’ll be able to learn the latest rules and regulations rather than going through rehashed concepts that you’re already aware of.

  • Affordable prices

Pursuing CPA CPE courses is an expensive affair. Therefore, it’s best to join a sponsor that offers subscription packages that will let you access its entire course library for a specific period of time. And if you choose unlimited packages, you can earn unlimited credits by taking your preferred courses.

  • Refund policy

The best CPA CPE courses should carry a good refund policy with them. It’ll help to ensure that you’ll get your money back if you aren’t satisfied with the quality of the course materials.

Mapping Out the Best CPA CPE Courses Online

If you want to stay on top of the latest rules, regulations, and happenings in the accounting field, it pays to plan the best CPA CPE courses well in advance. You can follow these tips to do it efficiently.

  • Figure out your exact requirements

First of all, see how many CPE credits you need to earn annually (if applicable) to meet your state board’s requirements. Once this is clear, see how many of them you’ve already earned and the number of credits you’re still required to earn. This will help you figure out whether or not you can take the courses that spark your interest.

  • Choose the right courses

If you’re right on track, identify the CPA CPE courses that you personally want to take. It’ll always be better if they’re aligned with your present or future career goals. If you’re working for an organization, it may be a smart idea to discuss your future scope of growth with the management.

You can also follow discussions by industry leaders to understand their thoughts about upcoming changes in the field.

  • Focus on both technical and non-technical courses

There’re CPAs who heavily focus on technical fields of study while overlooking the importance of non-technical ones. However, it’s important to remember that if you want to excel in your profession and become an all-round accountant, you need to focus on both fields of study.

You should also remember that state accountancy boards have specific guidelines regarding the minimum number of CPE credits that their CPAs must earn in technical subjects and the maximum number of the credits that can be earned in non-technical subjects.

If you’re unsure of these limitations, you must contact your CPE sponsor or your state board before joining your preferred CPA CPE courses.

  • Maintain a paper trail

Regardless of whether you’re taking in-person or online CPA CPE courses, never forget to maintain a detailed record of your CPE activity. Depending on your state, you may not be required to report your CPE information annually. However, state boards conduct random audits, and hence, you must be prepared for that.

Finally, no matter if you’re taking CPA CPE courses to keep your license active or to improve your expertise, maintaining consistency and completing the courses regularly is simply a must. So, be sure to plan your schedule accordingly and give equal importance to your professional responsibilities and CPE.

Closing Thoughts

CPE requirements shouldn’t be viewed as an inconvenience or a burden. CPA CPE courses provide a wonderful opportunity to master accounting topics, boost the substance of your resume, strengthen your position in the industry, and expedite your professional growth.

We hope this post was helpful and able to guide you toward the right direction of planning CPA CPE courses. If you’re interested to learn about the CPE courses we offer or about our unique benefits, you can always contact us.

 

 

 

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