Which CPE Courses Are Best For Certified Public Accountants?
Accounting professionals are essential to every industry, and these professionals need to maintain ongoing education to ensure they fulfill their financial obligations to their employers, clients, and partners.
According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or AICPA, accounting professionals have three years to complete 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) to renew their licenses. This means CPE is essential to furthering your career path, and you need to meet these requirements to maintain your professional licenses.
Let’s take a closer look at what CPE is, the essential topics for CPA CPE, and the best way to earn CPE credits for recertification.
What Is CPE?
Accounting professionals must go through years of schooling and take the CPA exam for their state to practice accounting. However, their education doesn’t stop once they graduate.
CPE refers to educational activities offering specialized training in information technology and accounting.
In order for CPAs to earn these continuing education credits, governing bodies must accredit the educational activities, so check with NASBA to ensure your CPE activities will count towards your CPE requirements for the state.
Participants earn CPE credits towards their license renewal, enabling them to continue practicing in their field and improve their professional competence.
CPE Topics Every CPA Looks For
Continuing professional education allows CPAs to improve their skills and offer valuable services to their clients.
But some subject matter is essential to ensuring CPAs remain on the cutting edge of their field.
Let’s examine which continuing professional education topics are essential for accounting professionals.
1. Tax Updates
The IRS is constantly updating its regulations and procedures. Because tax compliance is continuously shifting, CPAs need to remain up-to-date to ensure they don’t make any missteps and can offer the correct guidance to their clients.
CPE providers can offer evergreen topics that every tax preparer needs, such as how to handle an IRS audit, cyber security best practices, and responding to the most common IRS notices.
Depending on their specialty area, CPAs may also need training for tax updates relevant to their niche.
2. Financial Planning
Many CPAs understand essential finance topics, but financial planning is an ever-changing field, so the finance skills they learned in accounting school may be less valuable to their clientele.
CPE courses on the value of money, financial ratios, the power of investments, and business valuation could prove vital to any CPA’s toolkit. These skills will allow them to offer the best guidance to clients and ensure their future financial statements are in order.
As a bonus, more knowledge of financial planning can benefit their personal finances and allow them to give top-tier advice to their family members.
3. Fraud Prevention And Detection
It seems that criminals find a new way to skirt the law whenever an industry gets a grip on fraud. This means fraud is a fluid and necessary topic for CPE, especially when it comes to accounting.
In college, accounting professionals most likely learned about fraud through the lens of auditing. But they must learn about new workarounds, tactics, and real-life examples that surface each year.
CPAs can use this information to inform their clients and ensure they can spot fraud before it’s too late. They can also offer tips to avoid falling victim to fraud altogether, increasing credibility and establishing trust.
4. Ethics Courses
CPAs are required to take different courses to meet their CPE requirements. Licensing boards often mandate ethics courses because these professionals often have the unique role of being trusted advisors to their clients while also being reporters of financial data to specific financial agencies.
These courses ensure accounting professionals can recognize, analyze, and resolve specific moral and ethical challenges they may face. So participants can explore specific scenarios and case studies that will prepare them for ethical dilemmas.
They also help CPAs practice responsibly and uphold the high standards expected of the accounting profession. This allows CPAs to maintain the integrity and reputation of their accounting firms.
5. Internal Auditing
Every CPA has existing knowledge of auditing, but many may have yet to focus on what it takes to complete an internal audit.
These specific types of evaluations allow CPAs to closely examine a company’s accounting processes, identify issues, and determine whether or not specific financial reporting processes are accurate and efficient.
They can also offer actionable advice to the organization and improve internal practices to ensure these issues don’t happen again.
Learning the ins and outs of internal auditing is a great way to boost a resume and ensure accounting professionals can vet whether or not their company’s accounting department is functioning correctly.
What Is the Best Way To Fulfill CPE Requirements?
Continuing professional education is a necessity for certified public accountants and other accounting professionals.
However, CPAs often face the “busy season,” where days get longer, workloads get heavier, and clients' pressing financial needs need attention.
So how can busy CPAs earn the CPE credits they need without overbooking their already-packed calendars?
Online CPE is an excellent way for busy accounting professionals to check off their CPE requirements. It allows them to access essential topics that will help them bring their careers to the next level and ensure accounting professionals can offer their clients the best possible accounting services.
Since these learning activities occur virtually, participants can access them from anywhere and easily fit them into their schedules.
Virtual CPE can take on a variety of forms, including:
Full-length online courses
Live webinars & webcasts
On-demand educational videos
Creating educational materials for other accounting professionals
Teaching a class or seminar
When choosing a continuing professional education platform, look for easy-to-use dashboards, automated tracking and certificate delivery, and interactive features like live polling, breakout rooms, and live chat capabilities.
Elevate Your Online CPE Experience
Accounting professionals need more than Excel skills to be successful. They need high-quality CPE opportunities with the proper subject matter to ensure they perform at the top of their field.
Not only that, CPAs need accessible CPE courses they can access from anywhere, especially when the workload picks up during tax season.
BeaconLive offers a continuing education platform that brings essential CPE topics right to your laptop or mobile device. Not only that, we can help CPE providers get their courses accredited, meaning it will attract more participants and increase ROI.
Contact us today for more information on how our learning management system can help you deliver the continuing professional education opportunities accounting professionals need to maintain their licenses and better serve their clients.
CPA Licensure. (2023). AICPA. https://us.aicpa.org/becomeacpa/licensure.html