Free CPE Courses For CPAs
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Whether you’re about to clear the Uniform CPA exam or are already working as a CPA, learning never stops for you. Yes, we’re talking about pursuing CPE or Continuing Professional Education to keep your license active throughout your career.
Of course, you’ve already developed a solid foundation to practice as an efficient accountant. But in a field like accountancy, where standards and principles go through continuous changes, only continuing education can help you stay up-to-date.
Now, when it comes to the price of pursuing CPE, it can easily cost you thousands of dollars. And this is only for one renewal period. It means the cost will gradually add up over time.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the real value of free CPE courses for CPAs, where to find them along with some other essential things. Knowing all these would help you earn CPE credits conveniently while staying within the budget.
Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit of taking free CPA CPE courses is being able to manage the cost of renewing your license. This is especially true when you consider the cost of the entire process – the cost for CPE, fees for license renewal that you’d need to pay to your state board, and membership fees (if you’re a member of the AICPA).
While the AICPA has established specific CPE requirements for its members, your individual requirements may vary depending on the state board you’re registered with. For instance, some state boards have specific types of ethics requirements to be fulfilled by CPAs. Some other states such as California have limitations on the subject areas that can be taken to meet CPE requirements. In order to meet all these requirements, the cost for CPE can add up significantly.
So, even before you start searching for free CPA courses, it’s absolutely important to clearly understand the specific CPE requirements of your state board.
Another key benefit of these courses is that they help you assess the overall quality of a particular CPE sponsor. You can also see whether or not the courses match your learning style. This greatly helps in deciding if you should purchase CPE courses from a particular provider.
And as some leading sponsors offer free online CPE courses that let you earn CPE credits, you won’t need to worry about wasting your time.
When it comes to using the online format to earn free CPE credits, you’ve got two primary options. The first one is free self-study CPE courses for CPAs and the other one is free webinars. Though both of these programs fall under the online learning method, they’re aimed at different types of learners.
Let’s see the key differences between them.
With these free online CPE courses for CPAs, you don’t have to worry about completing specific sections or tasks within any certain date. You also don’t need to think about managing time to attend a prescheduled webinar. All you need to do is study at your own pace from wherever you want.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can take an indefinite period to complete these courses. These courses come with a specific period of time (usually, a year from the date of registration) within which you must complete them.
One disadvantage of taking these courses is you don’t have an instructor readily available to get answers to your queries. Additionally, each of these free cpa cpe courses comes with a final exam, which you must clear successfully to earn CPE credits. Though some reputable sponsors offer unlimited attempts to pass these exams, you’ll have to pass them with a minimum score of 70% (it may go up depending on the course).
There’re two types of webinars that you can attend to earn free CPE credits – live and pre-recorded. This method is ideal for CPAs who prefer to learn in a classroom setting. You can interact with the instructor and have your questions answered instantly.
The biggest advantage of webinars is that you don’t need to take an exam to earn CPE credits. You just actively participate and that’s it.
However, if you’re working full-time, attending webinars may not be a feasible option for you always. Many sponsors of free CPA courses for CPAs host free webinars during business hours. Therefore, you may need to choose between earning free CPE credits and carrying out professional responsibilities.
Also, if there’re any technical glitches, you may end up wasting your time without earning any credits. Moreover, you must be present for a minimum of 50 minutes of a 60-minute webinar. The minimum period of attendance becomes 75 minutes and 105 minutes for 90-minute and 120-minute webinars respectively. And depending on the duration of the webinar, you’ll most likely need to answer a specific number of polling questions. If you don’t fulfill all these criteria, you won’t receive any credit.
These days, you can find a good number of CPE sponsors offering free CPE courses, thanks to their increasing popularity. To help you make the right decision quickly, we’ve rounded up only the top providers that have built a solid reputation over many years.
The AICPA offers over 350 self-study courses along with webcasts developed by experts in the field. A few of these are free and let you earn CPE credits. One of the biggest advantages of these free CPA CPE courses is that they cover the latest information on the topics. Note that, most of the free webinars are conducted on specific dates, and hence, you need to check the site regularly to learn about your available options.
PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) is another great resource that you can utilize to earn free credits. Their library offers a significant number of free webcasts on a broad range of highly valuable topics. Check this page to see their upcoming and previous webcasts. To learn more about their free options, you can visit the Viewpoint Licensing page, download the Excel spreadsheet namely “Viewpoint License Submission Form”, and check the tab mentioned as “Free vs. Paid for Content”.
Deloitte offers a free program called Dbriefs that has a series of webcasts on many useful topics. At the bottom of this page, there’s a section namely “Dbriefs resources”. Check these resources to get a clear understanding of the program including upcoming webcasts, recent on-demand webcasts, and the Dbriefs Series.
EY (Ernst and Young) has developed a program called “Thought Center”. It offers a significant number of free live webcasts and most of them are eligible for CPE credits. Note that while you can watch their archived webcasts within a few days from the live event or listen to their podcasts, you won’t earn any CPE credits for doing so.
CFI offers a good collection of free courses covering a broad range of topics. You can browse the list to take your preferred ones to earn CPE credits. Just make sure that your chosen course is eligible for CPE credits. This is because the majority of their free courses don’t offer any credit.
Paychex offers both live webinars and self-study courses for free to help CPAs earn CPE credits conveniently. It has a program namely AKC (Accountant Knowledge Center) through which the free CPE courses for CPAs are offered. You’d need to complete the free registration first to get access to the free resources.
At Cpethink.com, we currently offer three free online CPE courses for CPAs. All of these courses come in two formats – text and video. Depending on your learning style, you can see the video or download and/or print the supplementary text.
In addition to these, there’re some other providers such as Edward Jones and CPACharge that you can explore to earn free CPE credits.
As you can see, by taking free CPE courses for CPAs, you can earn only a limited number of CPE credits from an individual sponsor. Therefore, to earn the majority of your required CPE credits, you’d naturally need to join several different sponsors.
When you earn credits from different sponsors, it becomes really difficult to stay on track in terms of meeting your CPE requirements on time. Here’re some valuable tips you can follow to do this efficiently.
When it comes to earning free CPE credits, you’ve got many different types to choose from. Once you know how many CPE credits you need to earn, start exploring your shortlisted sponsors of free online CPE courses. Depending on the availability, note down the free courses that you want to take from each sponsor.
Your decision should be based on the topic, format, and the number of credits offered. It’s also important to keep your total requirements in mind always. It’d help you clearly understand how many CPE credits you can earn by taking free CPE courses and how many of them you’d need to earn from paid courses. Knowing this ahead of time would also help in avoiding unnecessary stress in the eleventh hour.
Proper tracking of the CPE credits that you’ve earned is a must to fulfill your CPE requirements on time. There’re different types of CPE tracking software available that you can utilize to track your CPE credits efficiently.
If you don’t want to use such software, be sure to maintain a proper list of your earned CPE credits. Whenever you complete one of the free CPA CPE courses, add its details to the list. The details should include the name of the courses, the name of the sponsor, and the number of credits it offered. That way, you’d never lose track of your deadlines and the number of credits still left to meet your requirements.
Apart from these, it’s a must to create a realistic study schedule and stick to it. When you choose self-study courses to meet your CPE requirements, perhaps the most difficult part is managing the time to study. Whether you plan to study a few hours each week or a few days each month, follow your schedule and you’ll be able to complete the course materials conveniently.
Whether you take free self-study CPE courses or free webinars, its sponsor is as important as the content and instructor of the program. When it comes to free online CPE courses, in particular, lots of glitches can take place. However, with a good sponsor, you should never have to worry about any such things.
Here’re some key factors you need to consider when choosing the sponsor of free CPE courses for CPAs.
Some CPE sponsors offer courses but they don’t have the required approval from governing bodies. Note that, if a provider isn’t approved by the appropriate governing body, its courses won’t help you meet CPE requirements. So, it’s absolutely essential to verify that your chosen sponsor is approved by NASBA and your state board of accountancy.
Make sure that the course materials are developed by reputable, qualified instructors in their respective fields. By doing so, you can rest assured of being able to learn the relevant topics only and the latest information related to them.
Right from registering for free CPA courses and getting access to the course materials to completing the exams and having the completion certificates delivered to your inbox on time – everything should happen in a hassle-free manner. And whenever you face any difficulties, you must be able to contact the customer support team of your provider.
Probably the best place to learn about a sponsor’s customer support is its “customer reviews” section. Going through the reviews of past customers would help you get a clear understanding of how customer-friendly the provider is. It’d also be wise to choose a provider that offers different options to contact its customer support team.
Despite all the benefits offered by free CPE courses for CPAs, it’s important to understand that it may not be possible to earn all of your required CPE credits by taking them. This is because free courses on some topics such as state-specific ethics are extremely difficult to find. But again, there’s nothing that can be compared with free CPE courses when it comes to earning free credits.