Essential Things You Need To Know To Become A CPE Master
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Becoming a CPA is perhaps the most sought-after career choice for those having an interest in accounting and those who are studying it. After all, once you obtain your CPA license, you get to enjoy a multitude of benefits, from professional respect and career security to job satisfaction and high earning potential.
But did you notice that we mentioned “CPA license” instead of CPA? Like many other professions, CPAs also need to keep their license active to enjoy the above benefits. And when it comes to keeping your CPA license active, pursuing CPE is your only option.
However, this isn’t an easy task, especially if you don’t plan out everything right from the beginning. With that in mind, we’ve prepared this post on becoming a CPE master, where we’re going to discuss all the key aspects of how to master CPE.
Without further ado, let’s dive deeper!
While CPAs generally need to earn 120 CPE credits every three years, your exact requirements may vary depending on your state board’s reporting period. Your reporting period can be 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year.
If you don’t adhere to the reporting period fully, all your effort, time, and money might be a complete waste. And needless to say, your career will be negatively affected due to non-compliance with CPE requirements.
Therefore, the very first step to becoming a CPE master is to understand your state’s CPE requirements clearly. It’s also important to take note of your technical CPE, non-technical CPE, and ethics requirements, as they also vary from one state to another.
Whether you want to master CPE online or through offline programs, you can choose from a huge number of courses to develop many different skills. While you should continue expanding your skills, it’s important to focus on those that are in demand first.
Here, we’ve rounded up the top skills that you must develop in your effort to become a CPE master.
· Latest tax knowledge
Whether you want to be an efficient financial planner or an expert tax accountant, you must stay on top of the latest tax laws and rules to serve your clients better. So, you should focus on CPE courses that cover the latest topics in state and federal taxation.
· Technical skills
The future of accounting is going to be intertwined with technology. This means to future-proof your career, you’ve to learn software and systems that successful CPAs use to carry out their professional responsibilities. Apart from Microsoft Excel, you should focus on learning QuickBooks, business intelligence software, and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems.
The use of cloud computing in the field is also gaining steady momentum. So, consider it when planning out your technical CPE courses.
· Auditing skills
We’re sure that you already have good expertise in auditing as you’ve studied it a lot to clear the AUD component of the CPA exam. But if you want to help large organizations evaluate their performance and methods, you should take additional training in auditing.
Moreover, these days, businesses of all sizes and types continually look for efficient internal auditors who can help them mitigate and manage risk and increase efficiency. So, additional skills in auditing will essentially increase your employability.
· Business acumen
Do you want to climb the corporate ladder fast? Or, do you want to establish your own accounting firm down the road? In any of these instances, having solid business acumen is a must.
This’ll help you see the big picture and understand how different departments function and interact. These things will greatly help you in whatever role you perform as a CPA, whether it’s giving advice to upper management or running your own firm.
· Management skills
Management skills are something without which it’s almost impossible to enter a company’s management level or run your own firm. You can develop management skills by taking up assignments that let you supervise a team or a project. However, an easier way to do this is to choose CPE courses on the topics of business management and leadership skills.
Apart from these skills, it’s also important to learn how to present complex financial information in an easily comprehensible manner to people who don’t belong to the accounting field. Simply put, you cannot expect your audience (i.e., the upper management and stakeholders of a company) to understand accounting rules and regulations. So, you need to present your observations in a way they can understand and make the right business decision.
As mentioned earlier, CPAs can find employment in almost any industry and in many different roles. But when it comes to job satisfaction, personal preferences matter. After all, if you don’t feel interested in carrying out responsibilities associated with a particular job role, it’ll be very hard to find job satisfaction.
Here’re four areas that CPAs commonly specialize in. If you too want to specialize in one of these, be sure to choose CPE courses accordingly when mastering CPE hours.
· Financial analysis
As a financial analyst, you’ll help a business grow by analyzing its financial information, preparing financial reports, interpreting information influencing its investment programs, and suggesting management the right course of action.
· Tax accounting
Tax accountants usually file tax returns and maintain tax records of their clients. They also help clients maintain tax compliance and develop tax strategies by keeping them updated on the latest tax laws and regulations.
· Internal auditing
These professionals analyze and report an organization’s financial records and operations by evaluating its financial data and operations, risk management issues, and control processes.
· Management accounting
These professionals prepare financial documents, budgets, review and fine-tune accounting processes, and provide consultation to their clients’ management teams so that they can make the right business decisions.
In addition to these, some CPAs also prefer to get involved in estate management, tax and retirement planning, and investment advice. While the CPA license is extremely valuable to start with, you should also think about doing specialization in any of the areas that you feel interested in.
Apart from helping you in mastering CPE hours (planning the hours in the most effective way), this’ll also help you understand if you need to earn any additional credentials that might lead you to a higher position in a specific field.
Now that you know which skills to focus on when becoming a CPE master and how deciding on specialization can help you in mastering CPE hours, it’s time to learn the importance of one key element that you must consider when joining a CPE sponsor.
As you’ve assumed from the title of this section, we’re talking about customer reviews of CPE providers and CPE courses. These days, almost all of us understand the value of customer reviews, thanks to the skyrocketing growth of e-commerce marketplaces.
But why did we put it like if you wish to master CPE, reviews are extremely important? Let’s take a look at the top reasons.
· Reviews give you relevant guidance
Which sponsor is best to help me master CPE? Should I take the “XYZ” courses when I’m trying to become a CPE master? Making the right decisions can be very difficult and tiresome when we’re presented with lots of options. Customer reviews of your shortlisted CPE sponsors and courses guide you to make the right decisions.
· They help you get the best learning experience
Experiential reviews matter a lot when it comes to joining a CPE sponsor or a CPE course. After all, not every provider fulfills its promise, and you don’t want to face disappointment. Customer reviews help you get a feel of the sponsor before joining it.
· Reviews help you choose the right course
Imagine you come across a course on one of the latest topics at a surprisingly low price from an unknown CPE sponsor. You’re facing a dilemma about whether or not to invest your money despite being interested in taking it just because you never heard of the provider. In this situation, only reviews from past customers can help you understand the quality of the course.
In short, reviews make it easier to understand which sponsors to avoid, saving you time and hard-earned money. Apart from your shortlisted sponsors’ own websites, you should also check out their reviews on reputable, third-party websites.
If you type something like “different learning methods to become a CPE master,” it’ll come up with various online and offline programs. It’s important to understand the differences between these two methods to make your CPE experience more effective and cost-efficient.
Here’re brief overviews of each of them to help you make the right decision.
· Online programs
Online CPE programs are generally distributed in three categories: self-study courses, webinars, and seminars/conferences. With self-study courses, you’re free to schedule your learning from anywhere. This is typically the least expensive option among all online methods.
In terms of webinars, you must attend the event at a pre-scheduled time and date and complete participation requirements to earn credits. Live webinars are generally more expensive than self-study courses.
Virtual seminars and conferences are the most expensive options, which is why many CPAs prefer to avoid them. However, one major advantage of these events is that you can earn the majority of your required CPE credits by attending just one seminar/conference.
· Offline programs
The costs of offline programs largely vary depending on their modes and providers. For instance, the cost of completing a course from a standard provider will be significantly lower than attending a conference organized by the AICPA.
There’re two major advantages of them. First, you get to master the topics in a classroom setting and can clear your doubts instantly from the instructor. While live webinars also give these opportunities, there remains a possibility of technical glitches.
Second, you can interact face-to-face with fellow attendees in offline programs. This gives you a great opportunity to expand your professional network that you can leverage down the road.
In terms of the downside of these programs, if you need to travel to and from another city to attend them, it might not be a feasible option at all. Even if you attend programs that are conducted on weekends only, you’ll likely have to sacrifice your personal life to a good extent. Moreover, the cost of traveling to and from another location will eventually add up the cost of your CPE.
If you plan to master CPE using online programs, you need to follow a few things to ensure you ultimately get the credits. Let’s take a look.
· If you take self-study courses, ensure that you clear the final exam with the required passing score.
· If you attend live webinars to master CPE, login credentials are something that you need to store very carefully. Remember that if you cannot participate in a live webinar because of entering the wrong login credentials, your CPE planning may get jeopardized.
· As soon as you receive the certificate of completion for online programs, print it out and keep it in a safe place. This’ll help to ensure that you have both soft copies and hard copies of all your CPE-related documents.
In addition to all the things we discussed above, you need to develop a realistic learning schedule and stick to it right from the beginning. While becoming a true CPE master and expanding your skills aren’t easy tasks, you should be able to make your journey a lot easier using the knowledge you gained from this post.
Just remember that expanding your skills will certainly help you achieve your career goals as a CPA. But you’ve to take the initiative to shape it up the way you want it to be. So, if you haven’t started your journey to master CPE, talk to us today, and we’ll be happy to guide you.
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