Essential Things You Need To Know About CPA CPE Credits

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What Are CPA CPE Credits?

Put simply, CPA CPE credits are the metric used to measure how a CPA is doing in his/her CPE. While the number of CPE credits that a CPA needs to earn to keep the license active may vary from one state to another, generally, you need to earn a minimum of 120 CPE credits every three-year period.

The AICPA uses a credit system to measure CPE. It defines that CPAs can earn one CPE credit by pursuing fifty minutes of learning.



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Essential Things You Need To Know About CPA CPE Credits

All CPAs are required to pursue CPE (Continuing Professional Education) to maintain the license to practice. While earning the CPA certification is a huge achievement, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to continue studying anymore. Instead, it’s just the beginning of your lifelong learning.

You must keep on earning CPA CPE credits as long as you want to keep your CPA license active. In our experience of serving a huge number of CPAs over the last seventeen years, we’ve seen that CPAs often get overwhelmed by the different aspects of earning and managing their CPE credits.

In this post, we’ll walk you through all the important things related to CPA CPE credits and CPA CPE credit courses.

Before delving deeper, it’s important to clear the basics first.

Why Do CPAs Need to Earn CPA CPE Credits?

While the exact CPE requirements differ, the objective of meeting them by taking CPA CPE credit courses remains the same: ensuring that practicing CPAs maintain their professional competence and provide quality service to all of their clients.

As the rules and regulations in the accounting field undergo changes on a regular basis, it’s crucial to ensure that CPAs remain up-to-date on all of them. For instance, if you aren’t aware of a new rule or regulation, you won’t be able to provide the highest quality services to your clients or properly guide them.

Moreover, depending on the significance of the errors you made, you or your client may be open to legal ramifications. The rules and regulations governing the CPA profession may also vary from state to state, which is why it’s extremely important to ensure that you’re taking the right CPA CPE credit courses to efficiently serve the clients in your state.

Perhaps you already know that holding the AICPA membership is considered highly valuable in the accounting field. Earning 120 CPA CPE credits every three-year period is one of the mandatory requirements to maintain this membership.

Lastly, if you don’t meet the CPE requirements of your state board of accountancy, you may be given a grace period to make up the missed training hours. You may also need to pay a fine for non-compliance. If you fail to complete the training hours within the specified period of time, your CPA license may be revoked.

So, no matter how busy you’re in your role, always make it a priority to choose the right CPA CPE credit courses and complete them on time.

Which CPA CPE Credit Courses Should You Take?

The NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) has divided the CPE learning activities for CPA into two categories: technical fields of study and non-technical fields of study. These fields of study cover every aspect of the accounting field and areas related to the accounting profession.

Most state accountancy boards have their own subject area requirements and limitations regarding the minimum and the maximum number of CPA CPE credits their CPAs can earn in those areas. For example, some state boards require their CPAs to earn a minimum number of CPE credits in technical fields, such as accounting and auditing.

Some boards have also set a maximum number of CPE credits that can be earned by taking CPA CPE credit courses in non-technical fields.

When it comes to earning CPA CPE credits in ethics, the number of required credits varies from state to state. It’s important to note that some states only acknowledge ethics courses that are approved by their state boards.

Therefore, you must thoroughly go through the CPE requirements of your state board before you start pursuing your CPE. Whether you’re planning to earn CPA CPE credits online or offline, it has to be the first thing on your to-do list.

How to Earn CPA CPE Credits Online?

Ways to earn online CPA CPE credits have become popular than ever, and there’re reasons behind this. You don’t need to travel to another city or find accommodation there to attend an in-person course, seminar, or conference. Also, the cost of earning CPA CPE credits online is usually cheaper than that of in-person options.

There’re two common options that you can use to earn CPA CPE credits online: self-study courses and live webinars. Let’s see how each of these works.

  • Self-study courses

This is perhaps the most popular method of earning CPA CPE credits. Once you’ve chosen the right sponsor of self-study CPA CPE credit courses and got enrolled, you can immediately start accessing the course materials.

Many sponsors offer these courses in downloadable PDF formats, meaning once downloaded, you can go through them without requiring an Internet connection. And the best thing about these courses is that you can plan your study schedule according to your preferences.

Just make sure to complete the course materials on time and pass the final exam at the end of each course. Note that if you don’t get the passing score (the typical passing score is 70%), you won’t be awarded with any credit. However, with instant online grading, you’ll get to know the results immediately and receive the certificate of completion if you pass.

  • Live webinars

For CPAs who find it difficult to maintain self-motivation throughout an entire course or prefer to learn in a classroom setting, attending live webinars is probably the best option. Many accredited CPE providers offer live webinars on a wide range of topics.

Once you’ve completed the registration process for a particular webinar, you can attend it at the pre-scheduled time. Note that while there won’t be any final exam, there’re other criteria that you must fulfill to earn credits.

First, you’ve to be present for a minimum of fifty minutes during a sixty-minute webinar. Second, you must answer a certain number of questions, polls, or quizzes to demonstrate that you’re present and actively participating.

It’s important to note that you can earn CPA CPE credits by attending live webinars only. However, viewing earlier webinars on your favorite topics is an excellent way to enhance your knowledge and skills.

In addition to these, you can also attend virtual seminars or conferences to earn online CPA CPE credits. However, the costs of attending virtual seminars/conferences are pretty high, and hence, may not be the ideal option for cost-conscious CPAs. But if your company bears the cost of your CPE, you can consider this a viable option.

What Should Be Considered the Best CPA CPE Credits: Paid or Free?

If you do a quick Google search typing something like ‘how to earn the best CPA CPE credits,’ you’ll be presented with a huge number of results, showing options to earn both paid and free CPA CPE credits. Both of these options come with their own advantages and disadvantages that you must carefully assess before making a final decision. Let’s take a look.

  • Paid CPA CPE credits

Undeniably, one of the biggest advantages of choosing paid CPA CPE credit courses is you get to choose from a huge number of relevant courses. Some reputable CPE sponsors have hundreds of courses on offer, with many of them covering the latest and important topics.

It means, if you want to learn an important topic in addition to meeting your CPE requirements, you may not necessarily need to switch your current sponsor.

On the downside, the costs of paid methods to earn CPA CPE credits are pretty steep, which means you may have to spend thousands of dollars on CPE and that too just for one renewal cycle. However, if you choose the appropriate method and follow the right tips, it’s highly possible to keep the costs within your budget.

  • Free CPA CPE credits

If you’re trying to earn some CPE credits for free, enrolling in free CPA CPE credit courses is a wonderful idea. A number of CPE sponsors offer these courses to attract customers, so you shouldn’t have any problem in finding them.

Another key advantage of choosing free courses is that you can assess the quality of your shortlisted sponsors before purchasing courses from them. If you find that a particular sponsor’s offerings don’t match your learning style, you can try another one without spending anything.

The biggest drawback of focusing mainly on the methods of earning free CPA CPE credits is that you cannot meet your entire CPE requirement with them. This is simply because free courses on the latest or in-depth topics are almost impossible to find. Additionally, it’s extremely difficult to find free CPA CPE credit courses on ethics, which is one of the key CPE requirements of most state boards.

So, what should you do to earn the best CPA CPE credits?  The answer is choosing the courses wisely. You can always take a few free CPE courses to accumulate some credits, but your focus needs to be on the paid options.

Now, you might be thinking, ‘won’t that be a huge financial burden?’ Of course, it would, but there’re ways to keep the costs under control. Read the next block to learn the methods.

How to Keep the Costs of Online CPA CPE Credits under Control?

Here’re the two most popular methods to maintain the budget of your CPE.

  • CPE subscriptions

Choosing unlimited CPE subscriptions has become the most sought-after method of earning CPA CPE credits in a cost-efficient manner. Depending on your chosen plan and CPE sponsor, you may be able to access a large course catalog for a specific period of time. You just need to make a one-time payment to get this access.

There’re also other types of subscriptions available that you can choose depending on your specific requirements. For example, at CPEthink.com, we offer four different subscriptions with varying numbers of credits, alongside unlimited subscriptions.

As you get access to the entire course library, you can choose courses according to your requirements and preferences. And the individual cost of CPA CPE credits courses becomes surprisingly lower than if you were to purchase them separately.

  • Bundled CPE courses

While offered by a limited number of CPE sponsors, purchasing bundled CPE courses is another effective method to lower the costs. You get several courses as a single bundle at a significantly discounted price.

How to Manage Online CPA CPE Credits?

No matter how much time, effort, and money you invest in earning CPA CPE credits, if you cannot keep track of them properly, you may end up wasting all of your resources. Therefore, it’s extremely important to develop an effective strategy to manage your CPE credits right from the beginning.

First, make sure that you clearly know these things:

  • The number of credits you need to earn to meet your CPE requirements
  • Your exact renewal cycle
  • The minimum number of credits you need to earn annually (if applicable)
  • The number of credits you’ve already earned

Once you’ve got a clear understanding of these, focus on tracking the credits that you’re planning to earn by taking CPA CPE credit courses. You can do it either manually or using a spreadsheet. Just be sure to include all the information relevant to your CPE. You can also use CPE tracking software for this purpose if you think it’ll make your job easier.

Wrapping Up

Earning CPA CPE credits on time isn’t an easy task, especially when you’re working full time. But if you can keep the above things in mind and manage enough time to study and complete your CPA CPE credit courses routinely, it shouldn’t be a difficult task too.

If you’re searching for affordable yet high-quality courses to earn online CPA CPE credits, be sure to check our course catalog. If you want any other information related to CPE, feel free to contact us.




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