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Most states require a certain number of CPE hours in order for CPA’s to be recertified every year or so. To find out more about CPE courses that will help you further your career, read on.

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Learning doesn’t stop after you receive a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Once you receive your CPA license, you’ll need to note your state’s renewal requirements, especially timeframes for expiration and when to submit re-application forms. These requirements vary depending on where you practice. They are regulated by your state’s board of accountancy.

Generally, you can expect to renew your CPA license every year or two. This is where CPE requirements come in. Most states require a certain number of CPE hours for recertification. Fortunately, there are several options for meeting those requirements.

What Are the Basics of CPE Courses?

Not just any course about accounting or your area of specialization necessarily counts toward CPE units. Make sure you take a qualified class that contributes to your public practice license. Moreover, a qualifying CPE course can cost hundreds of dollars for a webinar and even more for conferences.

Some states require as few as 40 CPE units in the first year of public accountancy practice. Other states want you to complete upwards of 180 CPE units over three years. You’ll want to think carefully about how to fulfill those credit hours. For example, you could complete them through online webcasts, in-person conferences, or on-demand courses.

One thing to keep in mind is that “excess” CPE courses for one licensure period do not carry over into the next one. For example, let’s say your state requires you to complete 40 hours in the first year of licensure and you complete 60 hours. However, you cannot carry the excess hours from one licensure period over into another.

While there is quite a bit of room to choose your own course topics, almost all states require hours in ethics education each year. In these courses, you will review how national codes of conduct pertain to your professional practice as an accountant.           

What Are You Looking for in a CPE Course?

You’ll definitely want to choose a CPE course format that fits your preferred way to learn, interests, and lifestyle. If you have children, you might be looking for the flexible format of an on-demand webinar. But if you enjoy networking with other people, you may enjoy having a class that meets online at a set time each week.

Your learning style should also influence how you choose to fulfill CPE hours. If you find yourself tuning out of slideshow webinars, you might pay better attention when you feel part of a conversation at a class or conference. If you find in-person settings distracting, you could benefit from an on-demand streaming service or webinar. Some personalities really do enjoy online lectures, especially if the instructors are engaging and offer incredible on-the-spot advice from their areas of expertise.

Choose CPE courses with care because they’re not all created equal. Certain course offerings are well-known for their expert instruction, quality delivery, and content. Many organizations even offer course subscription packages and scheduling flexibility for your busy life.

Ideally, a CPE course will illustrate everyday accounting situations with real-world business examples. Real-life examples help cement ideas into memory so you can apply them to any situation your work brings up. Plus, they keep things interesting and fun.

What About Specialization Recertification?

Specialization certificates through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) have their own requirements, separate from CPA recertification. You have the option of pursuing specialty certifications in areas like auditing, financial forensics, personal financial planning, taxation, and technology.

Once you determine the recertification timeline for your specialty, you’ll need to plan out how to maintain being a member in good standing with AICPA. Further, you’ll need to plan for the courses you’ll need to maintain your CPA license and complete the required CPE hours as outlined by your state.

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CPE Courses Are a Career Booster

Taking CPE courses isn’t just about keeping your CPA license up to date. Continuing education courses will help you stay current on emerging industry practices. A good course will give you new insights as you seek to maintain competency as an accountant.

There are numerous career-boosting benefits of CPE courses. You might even receive a promotion or career advancement, especially if you decide to specialize down the road. Plus, maintaining your license by continuing your professional education will help you feel confident in your job and, in turn, will benefit your clients.

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