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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
Non-technical learning activities include those that study the following fields:
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.
Here are quick answers to some frequently asked questions about CPE credits.