What are CPE Credits and Why Do We Need Them?
Hey all – Welcome back to Wisdify. Below is an article we worked with our friend Shane. We hope you enjoy!
Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits are like vegetables: you need to take them even if you’d really just rather do something else. As a CPA myself, I have rooted (get-it … like root vegetables!) through many different vegetables to find the ones that are most digestible!
In this article, I will help you figure out some of the best sources for free CPA CPE and also help answer some questions that confuse people in the world of continuing education!
In all seriousness, I hope to get you to think slightly differently about your continuing education. Getting your CPEs each year can be an amazing opportunity to learn and grow.
Obviously, there is a requirement to maintain certain standards as a licensed CPA, but some new accountants are shocked to see the breadth of different options and topics that qualify as CPEs. It’s time to harness these options and get ahead!
Think Differently about CPE Credits
Instead of seeing only tedium in CPE, these credits are actually a great opportunity to learn and upskill. Many providers even offer CPE for free. Alternatively, many employers that value the CPE credential also pay for some CPE for their staff.
At Wisdify, we find managers are enthusiastic about the opportunity to affordably retain and grow their talent, and even prepared a sample text requesting your firm either pay for the course or reimburse you.
How do CPE Credits work?
Per the NASBA website:
“Continuing professional education is required for CPAs to maintain their professional competence and provide quality professional services. CPAs are responsible for complying with all applicable continuing education requirements, rules and regulations of boards of accountancy, as well as those of membership associations and other professional organizations.”
Generally, 40 CPE credit hours per year are required. This is an annual average that usually has periods of multiple years. How many by year, as well as over how many years each assessment period is, varies with each state’s own requirements.
CPE comes in multiple types that are based on how the content is delivered. Group Live, Group Internet Based, QAS Self Study Courses, and Independent Study are broad, different ways to earn the credits. The many ways in which credits can be earned offer greater flexibility to CPAs in search of providers.
Best Free CPE Courses
Wisdify Free CPA CPE
Wisdify is proud to offer our four-hour Microsoft Excel Bootcamp free. All Wisdify courses count for CPE credits, and this course counts for five CPE credits. In addition to text, video learning is provided.
Earmark CPE Podcasts
Earmark CPE provides a means to earn CPE while listening to podcasts. Their CPE credits are offered free to those who sign up for their mobile app.
Their free membership allows you one free credit of CPE per week, with a paid membership allowing unlimited access.
I think this is an awesome new way to engage accountants, learn, and earn CPE credits!
Other Great Free CPE Credits
CPAAcademy.org free cpe
In addition to the above, CPAAcademy.org provides both free CPE as well as paid CPE. These credits cover a bevy of topics including Blockchain & Cryptocurrency. Many live webinars are available on their website, with a focus on tax practitioners. The annual Golden Gate University tax update is hosted for free around February of each year.
Deloitte free CPE Credits
Deloitte Dbriefs are another great way to earn free CPE. The DBriefs offer a strong focus on new developments in the CPA profession. Individuals looking for guidance on potential economic, technological, and operational changes can turn here to bolster their knowledge.
QuickBooks Free CPE Credits
For those working with small-to-mid-size clients, QuickBooks offers free pieces of training on their software. Their website even allows you to sign up for the QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor training and exam which can potentially earn you CPE depending on the courses completed.
CFI Free CPE
Lastly, the Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) offers some of its CPE credit courses for free. They cover a variety of topics, particularly as it pertains to finance and analytics. They also offer informational web pages that quickly outline basic accounting concepts for those seeking a convenient non-CPE source.
AICPA Free Online CPE Courses
AICPA offers a number of free CPE webinars, live CPE webinars, and other free courses where you can earn cpe credits for free. If you are a member of AICPA there are 30 free cpa credits included with your membership.
Three Free CPE Courses at CPE Think
CPE think has a large library of CPE Courses, many of them are paid, but at the time of this writing they are offering three free courses in both text and video. This is a great way to get some self study cpe credits.
Live CPE Webinars from PWC
PWC cranks out live free CPE Webinars which (some have replays that still allow you to earn CPE credits). The good thing about these free webinars is that they often keep you up to date with some of the newest news and information in the accounting world.
DBriefs from Deloitte – More Free CPE Webinars
As much as I think the name is “DBriefs” is pretty lame (sounds a bit like a brand of men’s underwear). Deloitte cranks out a number of free CPE webinars that are eligible for CPE credit. This is another great source to keep up to date on trending topics and new news in the accounting world.
State Accounting Associations
Most States have a state-wide association of accountants that offers both paid and free CPE credit options. Many of these are linked through the ‘major’ players that offer CPEs like Becker, but they also will frequently have free online CPE courses, free CPE webinars, and even self study CPE options. It’s definitely worth connecting with your state accounting association to figure out their continuing professional education options.
How to Track your Free CPA CPE Credits (and all your CPEs)
You have to track your CPE courses. We at Wisdify have a free CPE credit tracker you can use! It is a simple spreadsheet and does the job!
A Word of Caution for Free CPE Courses
I’ve seen accountants work so hard to find free CPE courses that they end up just sitting in front of super boring live webinars while they work. Occasionally, they click the pop-up box to confirm they are in, in fact, still alive.
I think we all have been guilty of this at times. Honestly, it can feel like a chore to get all your CPE courses complete every year, especially for those who have been a CPA for a number of years.
For accountants early in their career. ESPECIALLY for accountants at accounting firms or companies that pay for your CPE hours… Use your CPE courses to sharpen your skill set and make you a better accountant, a better communicator, a better business person, and a better leader. It will open up more doors in your career!
Free CPE Summary
CPE credits aren’t just a requirement for licensure, they’re essential to maintaining one’s working professional knowledge. There are many free as well as paid CPE opportunities available online. These come in a variety of formats and their convenience makes finding time for learning easier than ever before. Get after it and make yourself better!
Free CPE Ultimate guide of FAQs
How many CPEs do you need per year?
Generally you need an average of 40 CPEs per year, with exact requirements varying by state.
Can I do all my CPEs for free?
Due to the breadth of content required for maintaining one’s CPA license, it is difficult to have credits satisfied solely from free sources. Often, firms value the credential to the extent that there is a willingness on their part to pay for it.
Does the formatting or field of study matter?
Some states set requirements for maximum and minimum hours by delivery method as well as by field of study. Please check your state’s requirements.
CPE fields of study … is there a list available?
NASBA has a web page available that has a link to its list of fields, which consists of 20 subject matter areas.
What are some paid CPE credit opportunities Wisdify offers?
Wisdify currently has paid course offerings in Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint and Power BI, along with SQL, Python for Accounting and Finance, analytics and financial modeling.
How do I track my CPE?
Many state CPA societies offer their own tracker as a part of their membership benefits. There are other trackers available online, or individuals can leverage their formatting and maintain them on their own computer or repository.
How can I check just which organizations are NASBA-approved CPE providers?
NASBA has a list of their approved CPE providers on their website.
Question: I see “CE” and other things labeled CPE from different educational firms on the internet; can I use this to count towards my CPE credit requirement?
Answer: Ensure that the provider is NASBA-approved or otherwise an approved provider of CPE credits specifically for maintaining the CPA license in your state.
Does a Master’s Degree count as CPE credit?
Depending on the subject matter covered as well as your state, yes. Confirm with your state the type of content that counts for CPE, as well as how many CPE credits a college course counts for. For example, Illinois offers 15 CPE credits for each college course credit completed for a total of 45 CPE credits per 3-credit college course.
Other CPE FAQs
Question: Do the non-credit professional certificates and other such options offered by colleges count as CPE?
Answer: These offerings are different than for-college-credit courses and as such merit their own considerations from a CPE perspective. Check your state’s rules on non-credit college offerings.
Question: I just got my license and the renewal period in my state is coming up in less than a year; does this mean I still have to have all of my 40-or-so-per-year CPE completed by then?
Answer: Some states, such as Illinois, excuse CPAs from the CPE requirement for the renewal period in which they earned their license. Please check with your state to confirm any exceptions to or prorations of the total credit requirements.
Question: Can earning another professional certification such as the CFE count as CPE credits toward the CPA requirement?
Answer: Potentially. If the format of the training is acceptable and the credential is offered by a NASBA-approved (or otherwise approved by your state) provider, the hours spent working through the exam prep might count. Please check with the provider if their exam prep counts as CPE and for how many credits.
Question: Do I need CPE credits if I’m not a CPA yet?
Answer: While you do not need CPE credits if you have not yet earned the credential, many offerings that count for CPE are either paid for by firms or are highly encouraged to attend for technical expertise.