What is

a CPE in Accounting?

What is a CPE in Accounting? Continuing Professional Education (CPE) is a requirement for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and it is meant to assist them in maintaining their competency and skill sets as professional service providers. CPAs must comply with all regulations set out by the state in which they are registered as part of their continuing responsibilities to keep their CPA certification.


CPAs are required to take a minimum of 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) within a 3-year reporting period as mandated by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

What are CPE Credits?

CPE stands for Continuing Professional Education, and it is required of all CPAs in order to keep their license in good standing, though the number of CPE credit hours required varies by state. The purpose of CPE is to guarantee that practicing CPAs continue to study and/or stay current with the newest advancements in the domains of tax and accounting and is considered an important component of professional growth. Though each state's Board of Accountancy determines the precise amount of necessary CPE credits for CPA, in general, 50 minutes of CPE training counts as one CPE credit regardless of which state you operate in.

Importance of CPE

Certified Public Accountants serve as trusted counsel to their clients on a wide variety of significant accounting issues that affect organizations and their stakeholders. Accounting is based on a broad body of knowledge that is always growing, changing, and getting more sophisticated. CPE is essential for CPAs to give the high-quality advice and service that their clients expect.

CPE provides an opportunity to advance professionally, which allows you to expand your knowledge base and areas of practice. Knowing the most recent tax laws, tax issues, loopholes, and so on help you become a more efficient CPA.

The requirement to stay current through CPE will only grow more crucial as the global business progresses and the consequences of technology and legislation move at a quicker rate.

CPE's Effect on Certification

If a CPA fails to fulfill the CPE criteria of the regulating state board of public accounting, the missed training hours are normally required to be made up. The person's CPA certificate will be withdrawn if this does not happen within a reasonable amount of time. If a CPA certificate is reissued without having completed a necessary amount of CPE training, the holder may be penalized or censured.

Benefits of Becoming a CPA

Certified public accountants (CPAs) are at the pinnacle of their profession. People interested in accounting should seriously consider becoming a CPA in the United States. A CPA qualification is nearly required to advance in an accounting job. In addition, CPAs are often paid more. Those with a master's degree and a CPA certification will see their pay rise even more. Furthermore, being a CPA in the United States will open the door to a lot of new professional prospects.

Accounting professionals are in high demand, and those with a master's degree and the CPA qualification will be at the top of most companies' lists. CPAs in the United States have a lot of responsibilities, but being at the top of your industry is a fantastic feeling! Because accounting is such a broad vocation and skill set, international students interested in studying accounting will discover that becoming a CPA and graduating with a degree in accounting will allow them to pursue their dreams.

CPA CPE Requirements

CPA certificates in the U.S. are awarded at the state level rather than nationally. As a result, Certified Public Accountants must follow the rules and regulations set out by the state in which they are licensed.

State-level boards are represented by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), while individual CPAs are represented by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). 

Specific state criteria can be found on the NASBA website.

1 CPE credit = 50 minutes

Many jurisdictions don't allow extra CPE credits to be carried over from one term to the next. Required CPE hours in certain jurisdictions are based on particular responsibilities or employment categories. If an accountant attends continuing education classes in a specific field, for example, New York decreases the number of needed hours of CPE credits. If an accountant works less than 3,000 hours every two years, Kentucky decreases the number of needed hours.

The CPE requirement can be met in a variety of ways. A variety of CPE providers registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASB) or the appropriate state board of accountancy provide CPE programs in the form of online self-study training, online webinars, in-person training, and other formats. Nano learning, which generally covers particular areas connected to a task, was established by a recent regulation modification. Each 10-minute chunk would be worth one-fifth of a credit. Teaching classes or authoring relevant professional articles or books can also contribute to a person's CPE hours.

Programs That Qualify for CPE

A variety of CPE-qualifying courses are offered. They may be used for self-study courses, webinars, video training, and industry events. Updated tax legislation, new accounting tech, or general lessons learned for the financial industry are some of the topics covered in these courses. In order to achieve a good balance of continuing professional development, CPE training must be highly correlated to the job practice aspects relevant to the certification.

To keep current and improve your technical abilities, the AICPA maintains a platform with more than 350 self-study seminars. The AICPA CPE courses were created by specialists from throughout the country and cover a wide variety of topics.


All CPE criteria set out by their applicable state licensing organization, as well as other government institutions and other professional organizations, are necessary for CPA members.

Members may sometimes enroll in non-approved educational programs or CPE solutions supplied by providers that are not AICPA or NASBA authorized. Individuals should keep all pertinent information and paperwork from such programs and contact their state-level board to petition for eligibility, since a specific amount of hours may qualify for CPE credits.

Evidence and Documentation of CPE

CPA members are accountable for accurately and properly reporting the number of CPE credits they have earned. This entails the retention of documents as well as documentation of participation and accomplishment of learning objectives. Retaining documents is critical in the event that CPAs are asked to provide proof of continuous education to regulators or other bodies.

According to the AICPA, keeping records for a minimum of 5 years after completing an educational development program is the best approach.

The following are some examples of acceptable evidence:

  • A certificate of accomplishment from a CPE program provider that has been approved.

  • A certificate confirming that all approved assessments in a self-study program were completed successfully.

  • A university's transcript or record of a student's grade.

CPE Credits Reporting

CPAs must follow correct reporting procedures in addition to recordkeeping and proof. Even if the member feels the program should have awarded more credits, CPAs must never claim more than the CPE credits advised by the CPE program provider. If a scenario like this happens, it's best to speak with the NASBA directly.

CPAs have a lot of discretion when it comes to participating in sponsored programs of their choice, but they should only claim credit for activities that boost their professional skill. Furthermore, members can only claim credit for the portion of a program that they really finished or attended if they just participate in part of it.

Illumeo is the CPE for CPAs specialist. We offer a large collection of CPE courses that include evaluation, CPE compliance, and more. With the best capabilities and ROI of any CPE platform, we are trusted by CPAs and major audit and assurance organizations. For the most up-to-date information and courses on Continuous Professional Education, please visit our catalog.