You’ve done it. You have managed to turn your love of math and talent with numbers into a career. You got your bachelor’s degree in four years and went on to earn a master’s degree as well while working at your first job out of school. After gaining some experience and studying for the exam, you have passed the test and become a CPA, a certified public accountant.
Surely, this means you are finally done with school and can just go to work now, right? Wrong! As a licensed professional, you will need to keep abreast of the latest and greatest in the field to make sure you are providing your clients with the best service. To make sure CPAs are doing just that, they are required to complete a certain number of CPEs, or continuing professional education, hours over a designated length of time. How many and how long depends on what your state requires. For example, the state of Indiana requires CPAs working in public practice or in industry to obtain 120 hours every three years with no less than 20 per year. Of those, as much as half can be earned through self-study, but the remaining 60 hours have to be in a classroom setting.
You have to do what you have to do, but what if you are short on time? What if your practice is under-staffed or just very busy? Do you need to cut back on work, turn away potential clients, or worse—use vacation days to get the required hours in?
CPAs are aware of these requirements before they become certified and understand the need to remain current with the latest and greatest information and practices in the industry. However, at the same time, they are working professionals that need to spend their time working rather than worrying about meeting their yearly requirements.
Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, the answer to that is no. With the advent of the internet, the physical classroom is not the only “classroom” available. CPAs in need of hours can attend a virtual class to satisfy their CPE requirements.
Becoming a CPA is not easy, and neither is remaining one. But with a little planning, you can meet your CPE requirements each year without missing work or taking too much time away from your family.
But what about the quality of the course? If these instructors were any good, they would be in a real classroom, right? Not necessarily. Not every classroom instructor is top-notch, and the companies that produce webinars take their time to make sure they provide material of the highest quality. If they don’t, word will quickly spread throughout the CPA community, and they will soon find themselves out of business.
Webinars are a great way for the busy CPA to get his required hours in, but at times that are convenient for him or her. Some are live, but if you choose one of those, at least you don’t have to go anywhere. Others can be completed at your pace, on weekends, or during evening hours from the comfort of your home or office. Whether they are live or pre-recorded, webinars will at least save you from having to waste time and money traveling. Some don’t require you to pass an exam at the end.
So--classes can be done online and at your speed, but where do you find these classes? It is actually pretty easy to locate available CPE webinars for CPAs. The American Institute of CPAs has a link on its home page for “CPE & Conferences.” On that page, users can find links to a calendar of upcoming webinars. You can purchase a yearly pass that will give you assess to hundreds of webinars on a variety of topics. Most state webpages will have links related to webinars you can purchase as well.
If you don’t want to take a course through the state, it is easy to find other options. Run a search for “CPE webinars for CPAs” on the internet and a number of companies will be listed that offer courses. Many of them will come with a wide variety of options for you to choose from as well as different pricing options. Some only require a user to register, but limit what is available. Their full slate of courses become available for a small charge.