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When you become a licensed CPA, it certainly feels great to join this elite group of accounting professionals. However, it’s also the time when you need to start thinking about earning CPE credits in the most effective manner.
Just google “CPA CPE course,” and you’ll see a massive number of results from a large number of CPE sponsors. While this brings you an excellent opportunity to find what exactly you’re looking for, it also makes the process slightly overwhelming. This is especially true when you don’t have a clear idea of how to choose the best CPE course for CPAs.
But, what does it mean to choose the best CPE course? Simply put, you should try to achieve two goals by taking a CPE course, meaning you get to earn CPE credits and expand your knowledge simultaneously.
However, it’s easier said than done, especially in the fast-changing world of accounting. There’re lots of things you need to consider to ensure your effort, time, and money actually help in expediting your career growth.
With that in mind, we created this post encircling the CPE course and related essential things. Each section shares thoughts and suggestions of experienced CPAs of our team.
Lets’ delve deeper!
While this ultimately comes down to your unique situations and personal preferences, you should be aware of the specific differences between these two methods of earning CPE course credits. Let’s have a look.
· Offline CPE course
With these CPE courses, you can interact with the instructor and fellow participants face-to-face. Apart from the advantage of having your questions immediately answered, you get to expand your professional network without putting any extra effort into it.
Another advantage is that these courses don’t have a final exam at their end that you’ve to clear to earn credits. You just need to meet the participation requirements, and you’re done.
But you cannot expect to have the venue of these courses in your vicinity always. And if you need to travel to and from another city to attend a CPE course for CPAs, it may become very difficult to manage time from your busy schedule. This is perhaps the biggest reason a huge number of CPAs are prioritizing online CPE courses over offline ones.
· Online CPE course
In addition to the above location-related factor, online CPE courses help you save a significant amount of money. Whenever you plan to complete CPE course hours on a particular topic, just check the costs of both online and offline courses available for it, and you’ll understand it yourself.
When it comes to receiving CPE course credits by taking online courses, you’ll get them almost immediately after passing the final exam successfully. This will greatly help when you’re approaching the deadline and need the credits fast.
If you’re thinking about failing the final exam at your first attempt, some leading CPE sponsors like CPEThink.com give unlimited attempts free of cost. So, in case of an unsuccessful attempt, you can take your time to prepare better and clear the exam with flying colors.
No matter if you take a CPE course in a physical setting or an online CPE course, there’re two very important things you should always check and follow. Otherwise, you may spend your precious time and money without getting anything from them.
· CPE sponsor’s accreditation
Ensuring that your chosen CPE sponsor has proper accreditations from the governing bodies is the first and perhaps the most important thing you need to do before enrolling in a CPE course for CPAs. Just imagine, you choose a non-accredited provider to take a CPE course and at the time of reporting, find out that the credits won’t get accepted by your state board.
Not only will this be a complete waste of time and money, but you may also run the risk of getting into non-compliance. So, be sure to check NASBA’s Registry of CPE Sponsors first. The registry is searchable, so it’s a matter of seconds to verify the status of a sponsor.
· State limitations for CPE
Having a clear understanding of your state accountancy board’s CPE requirements and limitations is equally important as verifying your sponsor’s accreditations. You’ve to be sure that the learning activities you want to join to earn CPE credits are approved by your state board.
For instance, some state boards let their CPAs all their required credits through self-study online CPE courses. But, there’re also state boards that allow CPAs to earn only half of the total required credits through self-study CPE courses.
It’s also important to note that almost all state accountancy boards have imposed limitations on the number of CPE course credits that can be earned in technical and non-technical fields of study. For example, depending on your state, there may be a minimum number of credits on technical subjects and a maximum number of credits on non-technical subjects.
If you fail to earn the minimum number of CPE course hours on technical subjects, it’ll be considered non-compliance. And if you earn more credits than the maximum limit on non-technical subjects, you may not be able to use the additional credits toward meeting your CPE requirements. Moreover, some state boards may not allow you to carry those credits forward.
While the accounting industry undergoes changes almost every year, the pandemic brought about several trends that we can expect to become the norm over time. Based on data, here’re three major accounting trends that’ll most likely permanently change the way CPAs carry out professional services.
You may find offline CPE courses on these topics, but as these aren’t traditional and commonly taught subjects, your chances of finding them online will be pretty high.
· Automated accounting
There’s a massive probability that several accounting tasks, especially the routine ones, will become fully automated down the road. Automated processes are much faster and lower errors to a great extent. Moreover, it’ll help CPAs utilize data to optimize processes while shortening the time to make data-backed decisions.
Lots of professionals worry about being replaced by automated processes. The truth is that regardless of how advanced software you use to automate processes, it’s still vulnerable to fraud. So, accountants will always be needed to manually review the processes for inaccuracies.
· Cloud computing
With remote working experiencing steady momentum, the need for accessing data and documents anywhere is increasing at a rapid pace. As a result, cloud computing isn’t something “nice to have” anymore. Instead, it has become a must to improve efficiency and manage risks.
A lot of accounting firms have already started using cloud-based accounting software, and we can expect others to follow suit over time. So, taking a cloud computing-related CPE course for CPAs will help make your career future-proof. If you want to establish your own firm in the future, it’ll significantly help to grow your client base.
· Data analytics
While data analytics in accounting isn’t new, these days, accounting firms are increasingly showing a preference for CPAs who have a standard level of knowledge in it. Data analytics can be applied to various processes of auditing, taxation, risk management, and consulting. It helps to pinpoint weak areas in processes that need immediate attention.
Today, clients don’t only consult CPAs for complex accounting issues or for tax information. A lot of people are turning to CPAs for general financial and accounting advice. This simply means you need to stay on top of the trends to strengthen your position in the industry.
But the question is, how can you figure out which CPE courses to take? Apart from the key trends we discussed above, there’re several others mastering which can help expedite your career growth. Here’re a couple of effective methods to identify trending topics.
· Follow talks by industry leaders and CFOs
Many accounting industry-related websites frequently post podcasts where CFOs and industry leaders share their thoughts and predictions about present and upcoming trends. There’re also several accounting journals that publish in-depth articles on future trends written by these people.
By following a couple of these, not only you can learn about the latest accounting trends, but you can also get a clear idea of whether or not they’re going to stay.
· Talk to a mentor
Discussing with a mentor can easily help you identify the right topics for CPE courses. If you don’t have a mentor, you can use your professional network to find one. Joining social media groups related to accountants is also an effective idea to get valuable pieces of advice from experienced professionals.
· Discuss with a senior colleague
If your goal is to climb the corporate ladder fast in your present organization, it’s best to talk to a senior colleague, especially someone from the management team. You’ll be able to understand the direction in which the company is planning to move or the technologies it’s going to adopt. Once you identify these things, you can plan your CPE courses for CPAs to become a vital asset for the company.
When it comes to deciding on the best CPE course for you, we strongly suggest using your judgment together with the insights you gain from industry leaders and senior colleagues before finalizing one. You should also consider your personal interests and preferences when choosing CPE courses. After all, no matter how valuable a course is, if you don’t have any interest in the subject, it’ll be very difficult to complete and get the most out of it.
These days, a number of CPE sponsors offer free CPE courses on different topics. While these are, of course, attractive options, there’re some factors you need to keep in mind.
· A free CPE course helps expand your knowledge on the topic and gain new skills. Moreover, some of these courses let you earn CPE course credits. So, these courses often prove to be very helpful when you need just one or two credits to meet your requirements.
· Taking a free CPE course gives you a wonderful opportunity to assess the quality of the sponsor before you actually buy a CPE course from it.
· You should never depend on free courses thinking that you’ll be able to earn a large portion of CPE course hours using them. This is because sponsors don’t generally offer free courses on important or trending topics. Also, it’s very difficult to find free courses on ethics, which is an essential CPE requirement.
On the contrary, when you’re willing to go with paid CPE courses, you can choose anything depending on your budget and requirements. Therefore, it’s best to try a combination of free CPE courses and paid ones to expand your knowledge and maintain your budget.
Managing CPE course credits efficiently often becomes a difficult thing for many CPAs, especially those who join multiple sponsors. One option is using a CPE tracker that’ll calculate how many credits you’ve already earned and how much is still remaining. Both free and paid CPE trackers are available on the market, with the paid ones offering more features.
Another option is tracking your CPA credit courses manually. You can either use a physical file or an Excel file to maintain a record of the credits. However, you should also keep a copy in your email account so that you can access it from anywhere.
Regardless of the option you choose, be sure to include some important things. These include the name of the CPE course, its duration, credits you earned from it, and its provider.
To strengthen your position in the accounting industry, you’ve to stay on top of the latest rules and regulations. And CPE courses are designed to help you achieve that. If you want to get the ball rolling right away, you can browse our online CPE course library. If you want to know more about our offerings, feel free to talk to us.
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