Continuing Accounting Education
Where to go for Continuing Accounting Education
Continuing accounting education is commonly referred to as CPE and is a necessary part of any CPA's career. Each of the 54 U.S. boards of accountancy (50 states plus the District of Columbia and three territories) requires that certified accountants maintain a certain number of acceptable CPE credits.
The requirements for the number and type of CPE credits differ by state, but most states require 40 hours per one year period. Some states have specific requirements that must be fulfilled; for example, New York requires at least 24 hours of the required 40 be focused solely in accounting, auditing or taxation. A CPE 'contact hour' is considered 50 minutes of educational time. Continuing Education Units (CEUs), on the other hand, are a different unit of measurement; one CEU equals 10 'contact hours'.
All courses must be approved and accredited by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, the organization that oversees all the State Boards for Public Accountancy.
Some state accountancy boards also require CPAs to take courses in certain subjects such as ethics, but check with your board for further information on what is required. For example; New York mandates that every CPA take at least four contact hours in professional ethics focused on accounting, auditing or taxation.
Some good resources for CPAs who are looking into continuing accounting education programs:
The Accreditation Council for Accounting and Taxation (ACAT) is a non profit 'independent testing, accrediting and monitoring organization'. ACAT accredits CPE providers, verifying that they deliver the same level of quality across the board. ACAT does not offer CPE credit, but the Council has a number of links to approved CPE providers. Find them at www.acat.org.
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) 'serves as a forum for the 54 U.S. boards of accountancy'. Ensuring that the same quality and standards are upheld by all the state insurance departments, NASBA (www.nasba.org) supplies general information on accountancy in the U.S.
The National Society of Accountants (NSA) is a national organization that represents '30,000 independent practitioners'. NSA has information and links for those in the fields of accounting, auditing, financial and estate planning, management services and tax accounting. Their website is www.nsacct.org.