3 Factors CPAs Should Consider When Choosing CPE Continuing Education Courses

Illumeo Blog's Profile

Many people think the hardest part of being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is passing the CPA exam. And while that is quite a feat, the real challenge is keeping up with your CPE requirements to maintain your license. That’s 40 hours/year over a lot of very busy years!

For CPAs who work in large public accounting firms it isn’t that big a deal. That’s because those firms understand the importance of CPE and usually send their employees on weeklong training sessions to take CPA continuing education classes and earn all their annual CPE requirements in one fell swoop. And those firms are happy to foot the bill. But it isn’t so easy for everyone else.

It can be nearly impossible to get away from work for an entire week! Besides, even if you can get away for a full week you certainly don’t want to spend it in an overcrowded banquet room learning the latest regulations. And that’s a very expensive proposition, frequently totaling thousands of dollars per year. Too many CPAs end up scrambling at the end of the year to take as many CPA continuing education courses as possible to keep their license in good standing.

Thankfully, there’s a better way to do it with the rise of on-demand learning.

On-demand learning makes it easier than ever to stay on top of your CPE requirements to maintain your CPA license, even if you wait until the last quarter of the year. There are lots of companies offering CPA continuing education courses, but it’s important to consider three factors when choosing which one is right for you.

Quality

The number one concern should be quality. Depending on your state requirements, you have to sit through 40 hours of continuing education courses a year, or 80 every two years, or 120 every three years. Shouldn’t those hours be spent on topics that actually interest and are relevant to your career? Quality continuing education providers offer a variety of quality CPE eligible courses on topics that you actually want to learn about and which will impact and improve your career progress. These courses should be taught by current practitioners and should bring in real-world context - all of which makes it easier to internalize the knowledge.

Speed

One of the best parts of on-demand learning is how quickly you earn your CPE credits. When it comes down to the wire at the end of December or the last month on your CPA anniversary date (not that you wait that long, right?) you want your CPE fast. The best CPA continuing education providers make your CPE certificates available online, immediately after passing their course, and make the collection of CPE data for delivery to your state society nice and easy, which is exactly what you need.

Affordability

Believe it or not, it is possible to find cheap CPE. There are tons of free live webinars available that offer CPE credit, which can be incredibly helpful if you’re stuck paying for all your CPA continuing education courses yourself.  (If your company isn’t footing the bill, you might want to consider having that conversation with them – or at least keep it in mind next time you find yourself in the midst of salary and benefits negotiations.) Of course, you can’t get all the hours you need with free webinars, and although the webinar itself is free, they are held in the middle of the day, your most valuable work hours. Turns out free CPE isn’t always free if you consider the opportunity cost of your time. On-demand courses let you earn CPE at your pace, during quiet work hours, at night and on weekends. You’re in control, and you can choose. Also, Consider finding a continuing education provider that offers subscriptions instead of charging per course. You often get more bang for your buck that way.

Once you’ve found the right on-demand learning platform for you, the struggle to keep on track with your CPE requirements should become a thing of the past. And the best part? You don’t have to travel, miss vital work hours, or make small talk with anyone else in pursuit of your CPE!