Keep reading to learn how many CPE hours you need, why they’re important, the different types of CPE, and how to make sure you get credit for them.

Advance your career while you complete your CPE credits. Study with Wiley and keep your skills and knowledge relevant.

What Are CPE Credits Quick Facts

  • CPAs must complete 40 hours of CPE every year.
  • 1 CPE credit is equal to 50 minutes of approved learning.
  • Each State Board of Accountancy can set its own additional CPE requirements or stipulations.
  • CPAs are responsible for reporting CPE credits and maintaining evidence of completion for at least 5 years.

Why Is CPE Important?

CPE is important because it keeps you informed about what’s happening in the industry and helps you best serve your clients. If you want to maintain your designation and continue to perform at the highest level, you will take CPEs seriously and use them as an opportunity to learn and grow as a Certified Public Accountant.

CPE Governance and Compliance

As you embark on the journey to fulfill your CPE credit-hour requirements, it’s a good idea to brush up on the CPA governing bodies and what the CPE requirements are.


The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) is the national forum that serves the 55 State Boards of Accountancy. Their goal is to monitor the accounting profession and give key stakeholders an avenue to address emerging trends.


The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the professional organization that represents the accounting industry and individual CPAs (although membership is optional). The AICPA creates and grades the Uniform CPA Exam, and they also enforce compliance and ethics standards within the accounting industry.

General CPE Requirements

We’re sure you’ve wondered, “How many CPE credits do I need for CPA certification?” Well, we have the answer. The AICPA requires CPAs to complete 120 hours of CPE every 3 years to maintain their license, however, each State Board of Accountancy can set its own additional requirements or stipulations. For example, your state may require 80 hours of CPE every 2 years with a minimum of 20 hours in any one year. Check the NASBA’s National Registry of CPE Sponsors for information about the specific CPE requirements in your state or jurisdiction.

CPA CPE Requirements:

  • 40 CPE credits every year
  • 1 CPE credit is equivalent to 50 minutes of an approved CPE program
  • Additional requirements vary by state

Qualifying CPE Programs

CPAs must earn their credits from a qualifying program, and not all CPE courses are created equal, so always research your CPE providers ahead of time. Two different vendors may teach the same course but produce very different learning outcomes. You want a company that’s an authorized CPE provider, experienced, and known to have a good reputation.

Once you find the right CPE provider, there are a number of learning mediums and course structures out there to meet your needs and preferred learning style. You can even earn CPE credits online.

CPE format examples include:

  • Webinars
  • Classroom-based teaching
  • Self-paced online courses
  • Conferences

CPE Compliance

It is important to make sure your CPE credits are in compliance with the requirements set out by the AICPA and your specific State Board of Accountancy. Your CPE credits will only count if they are earned from an authorized CPE provider. And a word to the wise, never take a company’s word for it. Check with the state board to make sure the company meets the board’s CPE provider requirements. You want to receive credit for all of the CPEs you have earned. In 99 percent of situations, there shouldn’t be an issue. But it’s always wise to double-check.

Documenting CPE Evidence

CPAs are responsible for documenting evidence of the completion of their CPE credits, and NASBA recommends CPAs keep record of this documentation for at least 5 years.

According to NASBA, acceptable documentation and evidence of CPE completion include:

  • For group and independent study programs, a certificate or other verification supplied by the CPE program sponsor.
  • For self-study courses, a certificate of completion supplied by the CPE program sponsor after satisfactory completion of an examination.
  • For a university or college course that is successfully completed for credit, a record or transcript of the grade the participant received.
  • For university or college non-credit courses, a certificate of attendance issued by a representative of the university or college.
  • For published articles, books, or CPE programs, (1) a copy of the publication (or in the case of a CPE program, course development documentation) that names the writer as author or contributor, (2) a statement from the writer supporting the number of CPE hours claimed, and (3) the name and contact information of the independent reviewer(s) or publisher.

Reporting CPE Credits

Just as CPAs are responsible for documenting their Continuing Professional Education credits, they are also responsible for accurately reporting their CPE activity. This means only claiming credit(s) for learning activities that improve your professional competence and only reporting credit for the portion(s) of a course that you attended or completed. Also, make sure your learning activity is recommended by CPE program sponsors and adheres to your state board’s regulations.

Technical & Non-technical CPE Credits

In an effort to create uniformity in CPA CPE credits, NASBA’s CPE Committee evaluates the relevancy of different learning activities and divides different fields of study into two categories that improve a CPAs competency. Those categories are technical and non-technical.

Technical learning activities include those that study the following fields:

  • Accounting
  • Information Technology
  • Accounting (Governmental)
  • Management Services
  • Auditing
  • Regulatory Ethics
  • Auditing (Governmental)
  • Specialized Knowledge
  • Business Law
  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Taxes
  • Finance

Non-technical learning activities include those that study the following fields:

  • Behavioral Ethics
  • Personal Development
  • Business Management & Organization
  • Personnel/Human Resources
  • Communications & Marketing
  • Production
  • Computer Software & Applications

Wiley: Your Trusted Source for CPA Education

Not all CPEs are created equal. And CPAs should be thoughtful about which credits they pursue and the programs they leverage to obtain them.

Few online CPE organizations offer the depth of experience of the Wiley brand. We’ve been delivering high-quality content for more than 200 years and would love the opportunity to help you stay informed and on the cutting edge of your craft.

Browse our site to learn more about the Wiley CPA review courses and free CPA resources we offer for accounting professionals and CPAs.

What Is CPE Credit – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are quick answers to some frequently asked questions about CPE credits.

  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit is what you earn for completing a learning activity that improves your professional competence. For CPAs, approved CPE programs must meet certain requirements set by the NASBA and the CPA’s State Board of Accountancy.
  • CPAs must complete 40 hours of CPE every year with additional conditions and requirements varying by state.
  • Some state boards audit CPE credits at different intervals, so it’s recommended to keep documentation of completed CPE credits for at least 5 years.
  • What are CPE credits good for? CPE keeps you up to date on what’s happening in your industry and improves your professional competence. The right CPE, like courses offered by Wiley Efficient Learning, will help you perform at the highest level and even increase your career potential.