How to More Effectively Track and Manage Your CPE Credits

Illumeo Customer Success's Profile

For Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to retain their professional competence and offer their clients high-quality services, they must pursue Continuing Professional Education (CPE).

In order to maintain the validity of their licenses in a state or jurisdiction, CPAs must successfully complete training to obtain a predetermined number of approved CPE credits over a predetermined duration. You may expand your practice and maintain your eligibility as a CPA by taking CPE courses on everything from ethics to the newest tax preparation software. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) are the two primary CPA regulating organizations in the United States.

Challenges

It can be really challenging to stay on track and meet deadlines with all those various courses and credits. It may appear straightforward, at first glance, to enroll in courses and submit CPE credits. However, managing CPE credits involves more than simply attending a few classes a year. You risk jeopardizing your status if you don't know how many credits you've already earned and how many you still need before the deadline.

Taking courses from a provider that is not approved by your state or having the course in an unapproved format are two more mistakes that can affect your federal or state compliance. Sometimes a course you've completed is just not recorded correctly, or you choose a course that didn't cover an authorized subject/topic. These types of issues can be avoided with early and proactive management.

It may be simple to keep track of credits that are reported in the same year, but since many jurisdictions need biannual or triannual reporting, it is crucial that CPE course documentation is handled appropriately. While some HR applications can manage continuing education credits, it's possible that they won't be able to track every little detail for accurate reporting.

Be sure to save the following documents from any CPE course you have done in order to get off to the correct start.

The Original Completion Certificate

If you enroll in a group program, you must keep the original completion certificate that was provided to you at the conclusion of the course. The same remains unchanged if you finish a self-study course. You will require a copy of the online completion certificate if you successfully finish an online CPE course.

Official Transcript

The transcript is required if you took CPE courses at an approved university. You must request a statement of completion from the instructors or a certificate of completion if you took a course that is a non-credit or continuing education course.

Original Statement Signed by Sponsor

If you attend a program offered by a CPE sponsor, you must obtain a signed statement from the sponsor for instruction credit.

Original Publication

You will need to have a copy of the original publication at your disposal if you earned CPE credits by penning an article or a book.

Details of Course Development

If you've given a presentation at a conference or hosted your own webinar, conference, or class, you must keep the records from each course you taught.

It's also important that you do not discard these records too soon. NASBA presently advises keeping all CPE-related records for at least five years. While this is simple enough for online courses, monitoring the hours spent on a published paper or book can be a little more challenging.

So, what is the best way to organize your CPE credits each year?

The Solution

If you don't have a system in place, keeping track of the CPE lessons you've taken, papers you've written, or webinars you've watched may soon become daunting. To make sure you have everything in order when it's time to give the information to your state accounting board, you can scan the documents and keep them both electronically and in a file, even if you aren't tracking details in the cloud.

Utilizing a CPE monitoring service like MyCPE Manager from the AICPA, a cloud-based platform that keeps track of territorial requirements and aids in tracking all completed courses, is an additional alternative. that will enable you to manage your courses, credentials, and credits within a single application. Additionally, Checkpoint Learning from Thomson Reuters and CPE Compliance Monitor by Illumeo also aid with CPE compliance management, including monitoring all credit categories in accordance with state standards.  There are also a number of additional applications available.

If you decide to manually manage CPE credits, be careful to keep note of the following details:

  • Name of the sponsor

  • Name of participant

  • Program name

  • Attendance dates

  • Program name

  • Program type (onsite, online, webinar, etc.)

  • CPE hours earned

All CPE-related documentation should be kept in one dedicated space at your office. A certificate or other proof of attendance can easily be lost with all of the documentation that is often found in a CPA's office. When it comes time to report CPE hours earned, being able to quickly locate the necessary documentation is possible by having a designated area for all CPE information.

As a professional, it's crucial to have a system in place that will enable you to quickly report credits when necessary, regardless of whether you decide to manually track CPE credit hours, keep data in the cloud, or utilize a third-party tool.