Unquestionably, rapid advancements in technology are reshaping the future of almost every industry and accounting is no different. Many companies have already automated some of the basic accounting processes. Add to it the ever-changing nature of the accounting field itself and keeping pace with the industry may seem to be a truly daunting task.
But it doesn’t anyway mean that you need to start worrying about your marketability. All you need to do is keep earning your CPE credits diligently to keep your CPA license active. In the course of earning CPE credits online or through other learning formats, you’ll get the opportunity to pursue courses that will greatly help to improve your professional competence.
And the best part is you’ll have to take CPE credit courses in both technical and non-technical fields of study. It means not only you’ll be able to keep up with new rules and regulations in the industry but become proficient in using advanced technologies that are relevant to your profession as well.
While accomplishing all these is very much possible, you also must spend some time to plan your CPE to make the most out of it.
As the title says, this post is aimed at helping you make robust planning to earn your CPE credits. We’ll cover all the essential areas that you must know to embark on your journey with confidence.
Whether you’re a new CPA or a seasoned one, you’re most likely aware that there’re two main fields of study that you need to cover by taking CPE credit courses – technical and non-technical.
When it comes to earning CPE credits to fulfill your CPE requirements, most state accountancy boards have their own subject area requirements and credit limitations. For instance, some boards limit the maximum number of credits you can earn by taking technical courses, as well as, non-technical courses.
As both of these fields cover a broad range of topics, you get the opportunity of choosing them based on your requirements and preferences.
Here’re brief overviews of what each field of study covers.
These fields directly relate to your field of business and the accounting profession as a whole. Some of the areas include the following ones.
By studying this area, you should be able to prepare, maintain, or report an entity’s financial records; perform analysis and verification of those records, etc. There’s a subarea of accounting namely ‘governmental’ that helps you learn GASB standards in addition to the subjects covered in the non-governmental sub-area.
Subjects covered in this field of study help improve your knowledge on performing systematic and independent examinations of an entity’s statements, records, data, performances, and operations for a particular purpose, among others. It also has a governmental subarea that additionally covers GASB standards and standards established by the GAO.
CPE credit courses on the subjects covered in this area help you perform an organization’s financial management including asset management, financial planning and analysis, etc.
Here, you get to learn the principles of macroeconomics, microeconomics, public finance, and money and banking.
This area of study helps improve your understanding of the legal system with a special focus on how it relates to accounting practice and business.
By taking courses on statistics-related subjects, you’ll be able to learn about business statistics, probability, and quantitative analysis.
This area focuses on developing an ethical background that you’d need to remain compliant with the rules and regulations of governmental entities, state licensing organizations, etc.
Here, you’ll learn about an entity’s business processes and processes required to improve cash flow, achieve efficiencies, and maintain profitability.
This area of study covers a broad range of topics such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, cybersecurity, computer systems, to name a few. Note that, if you choose an Information Technology-related course that focuses on auditing, accounting, or taxes, the learning activities should fall within the appropriate subarea.
Learning activities in this field of study are distributed in two categories – tax planning and tax compliance. The former lets you understand the tax implications of complex or unusual transactions and the application of tax rules to prospective transactions while the latter focuses on the preparation and review of tax returns, IRS examinations, etc.
If you’re associated with a specialized industry or service such as healthcare, not-for-profit organizations, etc, you should take CPE credit courses on the subjects covered in this area of study.
Though the non-technical fields of study may not directly relate to your field of business or the accounting profession, they’re designed to complement your expertise in the technical fields of study. Some non-technical fields of study include the following.
Here, you can learn all kinds of skills associated with an organization’s management – from management planning to administration and management of a public accounting practice, and more.
This field of study helps improve your knowledge on ethical practice in business, ethical decision-making, personal ethics, among others.
This area of study helps you learn about software and applications that you may need to use when offering professional services. Note that, if you take software courses, application of which is focused on auditing, accounting, or tax practice, they should be classified with the appropriate technical field of study.
Learning the subjects covered in this field of study will help you become an effective communicator and let you master the marketing tactics required for the development of CPA firms and other organizations.
This area covers subjects related to recruitment, development, as well as, retention of employees, human resources management, etc.
Here, you can learn about career planning, time management, and leadership.
This area of study covers different areas of production management such as supply operations, inventory management, and operations management.
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of the fields of study you can choose from, it’s time to decide how to earn your CPE credits. Here, we’ve rounded up the four best methods to do this.
Self-study CPE credit courses online have become the most sought-after option among busy CPAs. Though you won’t have a real-time instructor with whom you can interact or seek help from, these courses offer utmost flexibility. While AICPA offers a broad number of self-study courses, it may be a costly option if you’ve got a budget. Alternatively, there’re many reputable CPE sponsors that offer CPE credit courses online at a much lower cost. Just be sure to choose the sponsor wisely and avoid those that offer the courses at a surprisingly low price. Also note, to earn online CPE credits through these courses, you must clear the final exam at the end of each of them. However, many top-tier sponsors provide unlimited attempts to pass these exams, and hence, it shouldn’t be a problem if you join one of them.
Here, you choose an accredited university or college and take a relevant course from it. One quarter equals 10 CPE credits and a semester would let you earn 15 CPE credits. Note that you must check with your state board of accountancy because there might be limitations on the number of credits that you can earn using this option. Also, it might not be the best option if you’re working full-time.
If you prefer to learn in a classroom setting, attending webinars to earn CPE credits would be a suitable option. Along with AICPA, there’re many sponsors that offer webinars. All you need to do is register with your chosen sponsor and choose an attendance option. This is another popular option to earn online CPE credits at your own convenience. Though there’re free webinars offered that you can attend, it’s best to take them from a reputable sponsor. This is because attending a poor-quality webinar might lead to wasting your time. Also, note that you need to actively participate in the webinars to earn your credits and thus, there shouldn’t be any technical glitches that might jeopardize your attendance.
Attending conferences or seminars would be an ideal option if your goal is to network with other industry professionals while earning CPE credits at the same time. Throughout the year, AICPA holds many conferences on different popular topics. You just visit their website, check the list of upcoming conferences, and register yourself. Note that, earning credits using this method is typically the most expensive one. So, if you’re paying the cost of pursuing CPE out of pocket, it might not be the best option for you.
As you can see, if you’re looking to earn CPE credits at your own pace, self-study CPE credit courses online should be your most suitable option. Just make sure to study regularly and complete the courses on time and you’ll be able to pursue your CPE conveniently.
Once you start earning your CPE credits, managing them properly often becomes a big challenge. Though your renewal period might vary between 1 to 3 years depending on your state board, you’d typically need to earn 40 credits each year.
Here’re some tips to do it efficiently.
First of all, it’s a must to have a designated space where you can keep/save all your information and documents (both offline and online) related to your CPE. There’re two methods to do this. First, you can maintain an Excel file that will have separate rows for all the relevant information. And secondly, you can maintain a manual list. However, it’s strongly advisable to keep a digital copy of it as well. This is because, with a loose document, there’s always the risk of misplacing it. Regardless of the method you choose, you must track all the information. These include the name of the CPE credit courses you took, the name of the sponsor, the number of CPE credits you earned, the date of the completion of the program, and location.
This is a more hassle-free way to track your CPE credits. You can search online and choose a free one. You just need to fill in the online form with all the relevant details and you can access them whenever you need. There’re also online apps available that you can use. You download the app, fill in the same information, and it gets saved in the cloud.
If you don’t want to use an app, simply scan or take pictures of all the relevant documents, and email those to yourself. Whenever you take new CPE credit courses, attach new certificates/documents to the email. Whenever you need those documents, you just need to open your email to access them.
Keep in mind that you’re solely responsible for reporting your CPE credits appropriately and timely. Be sure to retain all the documents related to the learning activities for a minimum of five years from their dates of completion. If you choose self-study courses, your sponsor will provide you with a completion certificate after you pass the final exam successfully. If you enroll in a university/college, you’ll receive a transcript or record of your grade. And if you attend webinars, the organizer will give you proof of attendance.
We hope that this post has been useful in boosting your confidence to start earning CPE credits. To start with you can take a look at our top-notch collection of courses. If you’ve any more queries about our offerings, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
CPA professionals continue to choose us as their CPE self-study provider because they know that we provide the tools and resources that are needed to get classes that will fully meet their needs. We don’t compromise and neither should you.
For what other CPAs and IRS EAs, as well as Tax Preparers, have experienced check out https://www.cpethink.com/cpe-reviews and see what you think.
Customer that have purchased have the opportunity to leave reviews after they have completed a course on Cpethink.com.