Did you know that there are over 669,000 actively licensed certified public accountants (CPAs) in the US? Considering we all need our taxes done, this profession isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which may have attracted you to being a CPA.
However, it’s not enough to just get your license. You have to go through Continuing Professional Education (CPE) as well.
What is CPE, why is it important, and how can you go about it? Here’s a quick guide to continuing education for accountants.
What Is CPE?
If you’re a CPA, then you’re required to go through CPE. Each state has its own requirements, so you’ll have to check with your to see the specific ones for your area.
In general, you have to complete at least 120 hours of CPE every 3 years, as this is the reporting period.
Why Is CPE Important?
As a CPA, you’re advising your clients on issues having to do with their finances. Not only that, but many clients will have their own businesses where they’ve put a lot of money into and many other stakeholders are involved.
Considering that the financial world isn’t a static thing, it’s vital that you continue your accounting education, even if you’re the best around. Standards, as well as rules and regulations, are always changing, so you need to keep up with the times.
How to Go Through CPE
There are several CPE choices, depending on the niche you’ve chosen. For example, there’s COPAS, which is the Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies. They have CPE that focuses on the oil and gas industries, so if your clients are mainly from this industry, you’d take oil and gas courses with COPAS.
Do note that you must take Qualifying Programs. Otherwise, your credits won’t count. There are rare exceptions where you’re allowed to enroll in programs that aren’t approved by the NASBA or the AICPA, but you should first check with your state-level board before spending the time and money on them.
In general, 50 minutes are equivalent to 1 CPE credit. And you must take 120 credits over 3 years. If you only take part of a course, then you can’t claim credits for the entire course (you’d be surprised at how many people try to do this).
It’s your responsibility to keep track of how many CPE credits you’ve earned, so make sure you keep all relevant documents and evidence. You’ll then have to report the credits yourself as well.
Continuing Education for Accountants
As you can see, not only is continuing education for accountants important, but it’s also required by the law. You’ll have to complete at least 120 hours in every 3-year period, and every state’s requirement will be different, so you’ll have to check yours to ensure you’re complying with the law.
So if you weren’t aware of accounting CPE courses, then you should definitely get on that pronto. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing your license.
For more information on careers, browse our other blog posts.