Use Your CPE To Learn Something Completely Different

John Kogan's Profile

Filling CPE Hours Can Be A Chore

Most people need to get 40 hours of continuing professional education every year, with some variance based on their designation and rules. That's a lot of time. In fact, it's the equivalent of an entire full-time work week! We hear from our users that it can be a real struggle to fill those 40 hours with accounting and tax updates. There's only so much happening in those areas every year that you need to stay current on for your particular job. Well, maybe it's time you broke out a bit.

What If There Was A Truly Useful Alternative

So why not try something completely different? CPAs certainly need to have accounting skills, but what about building competence, or even expertise, in a complimentary area? Doing so might open up completely new career or consulting (if that's what you do) avenues. Imagine becoming an expert in financial analysis. That would take some real hours of study and application, but here you have upwards of 40 hours a year, so you have the time. Break out. Try something that you think might help burnish your resume or give you something to offer up to clients or your manager. Financial analysis, "big data" and analytics, treasury skills, super Excel skills, internal audit, these and many more are available at the click of a mouse, and they will help you absorb those 40 hours while you're learning new, bankable skills. 

How To Get Started

If you decide it's worth looking in to, you can do a few things. First off, try taking a competency assessment to see what capabilities people in other functions are cultivating. Illumeo has a great, free competency assessment tool that provides quick and easy "gap" assessment for over 200 job corporate and consulting job titles. Take a few minutes to try that out and see what you might want to learn from the system's course recommendations. You can fill out the competency levels once and then do any number of "what-if" scenarios to look down different skill and career paths.

Alternatively you could spend a few minutes on some advance topic searches. With over 1,000 on-demand CPE courses and webinars to choose from, you could spend your time getting great at any of dozens of specialy areas that are outside of your current specialization. 

Why Bother

There are dozens of CPE-requiring certifications - CPA, CMA, CIA, CIST and so, so many more. If you're a CPA, for example, you may have a certain set of skills that pays you 100% of your current market rate. Adding accounting/tax skills by taking more accounting courses may add one or two percent to your market rate. However, what if you became excellent at budgeting and forecasting? That might add 5%, 10% or even more to your market rate, and your marketability, because it is a rather different, but still highly complementary skillset. The same can be said for big data and analytics skills which allow you to do much more than debits and credits - now you could analyze in addition to basic reporting. Again, that might add 5% or 10% to your current market rate. Or it might make you more promoteable or moveable within an existing company. Or, it might lead to entirely new career moves you can make.

You can fundamentally add value to yourself by branching out and trying something completely new. You should at least consider it as an alternative to the same old CPE.