A Comprehensive Guide to CPA CPE Requirements
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If you’re a CPA and want to keep your license active and serve your clients in the best possible manner, there’s no other way than to focus on pursuing your CPE. You already know that staying compliant with your CPE means meeting your CPA CPE requirements on time.
However, since CPE requirements for CPA vary from one state to another, every CPA must develop a clear idea of them so that they can maintain their designation in a hassle-free manner.
To help you obtain a clear idea of every important thing related to CPE requirement for CPA, we’ve created this ultimate guide. After reading this piece, you’ll be able to navigate the complex field of CPE with ease.
Since CPA designations are awarded at a state level, every state accountancy board has established its own continuing professional education requirements that its CPAs must fulfill to maintain the active status of their designation. In short, these are called CPA CPE requirements of that particular state.
Although CPE for CPA requirements vary depending on state boards, they come with some general guidelines. Let’s take a look at them.
· Generally, CPAs need to earn 120 CPE credits every three-year period.
· CPA license renewal periods vary from one state board to another. Depending on your state board, it can be anything between annual, biennial, or triennial.
· If you hold membership of the AICPA and are required to fulfill AICPA CPE requirements, you must earn 120 CPE credits every three years.
You can use several methods to meet your CPA CPE requirements. However, many state boards have their own restrictions on which methods can be used to meet these requirements. So, be very sure to review your state CPE requirements before you start planning your CPE.
In case you fail to follow the exact guidelines to fulfill your CPE requirements by state, you may not be able to earn all your required credits within your license renewal period. And that may damage your reputation and professional credibility.
As we just mentioned, you can choose from a number of options to meet your CPE for CPA requirements. Here’re the general methods to calculate your CPE credits.
· Self-study courses that are eligible for CPE come with a fixed number of CPE credits. You just need to see the course description to learn about that.
· If you attend time-based programs such as webinars, fifty minutes of active participation will let you earn one CPE credit.
· College or university programs either have a semester system or a quarter system. In a semester system, one college credit is equivalent to 15 CPE credits. In a quarter system, one college credit lets you earn 10 credits.
CPAs often feel confused about which courses they should take to meet their CPA CPE requirements. Although you can take many different courses, it’s best to stick to the learning activities that are outlined by the NASBA.
In this block, we’re going to discuss the fields of study that you should focus on when fulfilling your CPE requirements for CPA.
Again, if you want to take a course that doesn’t fall under these fields of study, be sure to double-check the CPA CPE requirements by state. This is because your state board may have some credit restrictions on some fields of study.
Learning activities that help meet the CPE credit requirements for CPA are divided into two categories: technical and non-technical.
Let’s see what each of these categories entails.
Subjects that come under technical fields of study directly relate to the accounting profession and the field of business of a CPA. These subjects will help improve your technical competence when fulfilling your CPA license CPE requirements.
This field of study is further divided into two sub-fields: governmental and non-governmental. By taking courses in accounting, you can master the procedures and principles related to accounting and financial reporting. You’ll also be able to prepare, maintain, and report an entity’s financial records, as well as, analyze and verify those reports.
The governmental sub-field lets you gain the same kind of knowledge but the subjects will apply to the governmental standards of local and state reporting.
Auditing-related subjects help improve your knowledge of performing an independent and systematic examination of statements, records, data, performances, and operations of an entity for a particular purpose.
This field of study also has two sub-fields: non-governmental and governmental. You can acquire the same type of knowledge by taking courses related to the governmental subfield but the subjects will encompass the governmental standards of local and state reporting and the requirements of the GAO.
By taking courses on economics, you’ll be able to learn the principles of macroeconomics, microeconomics, public finance, money, and banking.
· Business law
Business law-related subjects encompass the legal system with a strong focus on how law relates to the fields of business and accounting. You’ll learn about tax and legal issues, collection law, employment law, etc.
· Information Technology
Information Technology itself is a massive field. However, when it relates to auditing, accounting, or taxes, your learning activities will fall under these sub-fields. In the context of these sub-fields, IT-related courses generally cover subjects like cloud computing, cyber security, database management, programming, networking, etc.
Finance-related subjects will help you learn about the intricacies of an organization’s financial management including asset management, financial analysis and planning, contracting goods and services, buying and selling businesses, and foreign operations.
· Regulatory ethics
This field of study covers subjects that help you master the skills required to adhere to the rules and regulations of membership associations, governmental entities, state licensing organizations, and other professional organizations.
It’s important to note that almost all state accountancy boards need their CPAs to earn a certain number of CPE credits in regulatory ethics to meet their CPA CPE requirements. Depending on your state board, you may need to take either courses related to the AICPA Code Of Professional Conduct or your board-approved courses.
You’ll obtain a clear idea of this by reviewing the CPA CPE requirement of your state board.
· Management services
These subjects cover an entity’s business processes, maintaining profitability, improving cash flow, and achieving efficiencies.
This field of study is divided into two topics: planning and compliance. Subjects related to tax planning will help you learn the tax implications of complex or unusual transactions and prospective transactions.
Subjects related to tax compliance cover IRS examinations, protests, and rulings, and tax return review and preparation.
Statistics-related subjects will help you learn business statistics, probability, and quantitative analysis.
· Specialized knowledge
If you work in a specialized industry like healthcare, oil and gas, or nonprofit organizations, you may want to focus on this field of study when meeting your CPA CPE requirements.
Non-technical fields of study may not be directly related to the accounting profession and the field of business of a CPA, but they can indirectly improve your technical competence.
Therefore, you must give equal importance to both technical and non-technical fields of study when earning the CPE credits required for CPA license renewal.
· Business management and organization
If you want to be on the management team of an organization or run your own firm, you should focus on this field of study when fulfilling your CPA CPE credit requirements. Related subjects will help you acquire the skills required in management planning, organization structures, and administrative practices.
In particular, courses will cover subjects related to a public accounting practice’s administration and organization. If you want to improve your skills in administration, focus on courses that cover succession planning, professional liability insurance, collections, time and billing, etc.
· Behavioral ethics
Subjects related to behavioral ethics deal with ethical practice in business, ethical decision-making, and personal ethics, as well as, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Remember to check the behavioral ethics CPA CPE requirements of your state board before you start planning your CPE.
· Computer software and applications
Courses related to this field of study will help improve your knowledge and skills in software and applications that you may use when providing professional services. Remember that if you take courses that relate to particular accounting areas, your credits will be counted in those technical fields of study.
So, when choosing these courses, ensure that you remain compliant with your state CPE requirements.
· Communications and marketing
Subjects in this field of study will help you become a powerful communicator and develop the marketing skills required to grow organizations, including accounting firms. Courses generally cover interviewing techniques, customer communications, business presentation and writing, marketing professional services, and social media.
· Personnel and human resources
Learning activities in this field of study will help improve your knowledge and skills in human resources management, operational systems for human resources, along with employee recruitment, development, and retention. You’ll also learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of recruitment and retention of employees.
· Personal Development
These courses usually cover time management skills, leadership, and career planning.
Subjects in this field of study will help you acquire skills in supply operations, inventory management, and operations management. Topics you’ll usually learn include inventory control, quality control, standards for pay and production, and scheduling.
Regardless of the stage you’re in your CPA career now, meeting CPE requirements for CPA is a must. But, with the availability of so many CPE programs, choosing the right one quickly can be a difficult task.
To help you out, we’ve created the following checklist that outlines the vital factors you need to consider before enrolling in a CPE program.
· Area of specialization of the program
This is one of the most vital things you need to check before enrolling in a program to meet your CPA CPE requirements. All state accountancy boards have guidelines related to the minimum number of credits in technical subjects and the maximum number of credits in non-technical subjects.
If you earn a lower number of credits than the minimum number required in technical subjects, you won’t be able to fulfill your CPE requirement for CPA. And if you earn more credits than the maximum number allowed in non-technical subjects, your credits won’t get counted toward meeting your CPE for CPA requirements.
Therefore, be sure to check whether the program falls under the technical or non-technical field of study and plan accordingly.
· Format of the program
You already know that you can choose different programs to meet your CPA license CPE requirements. From self-study courses and webinars to in-person programs, seminars, college/university courses, and more, you’ve got several options.
However, each of these options comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. So, review the format of your chosen program carefully and see if that’ll be the right fit for your professional schedule and personal learning styles before enrolling in it.
· Credential of program instructor/author
When qualified authors with significant professional knowledge and years of experience develop a program, you can remain confident that it’ll help expand your skills. On the contrary, programs created by inexperienced authors or instructors may make you go through rehashed course materials, which ultimately don’t at all help in improving your knowledge.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to ensure that the author/instructor of the program has enough experience and solid expertise in their field. When it comes to taking courses to meet your CPA CPE requirements, it’s best to prioritize the ones developed by active CPAs.
Regardless of how you choose to meet your CPA CPE requirements, the most important thing is to be confident and comfortable with your CPE. Taking the right courses and choosing the right format will make your CPE journey much less stressful.
We hope that this ultimate guide has provided you with all the important pieces of information related to CPE requirements for CPA. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach us anytime.
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