The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) jointly issue the standards that define the framework of the Continuing Professional Education programs used by CPAs to maintain their licensure.  The standards are designed to provide a wide range of knowledge, skills, and abilities.  The standards divide continuing education learning topics into two groups: technical and non-technical.  This article details the technical areas of study.

Technical learning activities directly relate to the profession of accounting and the CPA’s field of business.  These courses should increase the technical competence of a CPA.  

Technical areas of study include accounting (governmental and non-governmental), auditing (governmental and non-governmental), business law, economics, finance, information technology, management services, regulatory ethics, specialized knowledge, statistics and taxes.


The accounting (governmental and non-governmental) field of study builds on the knowledge needed to prepare, maintain or report the financial records of an entity; the analysis, verification and reporting of financial records; and the principles and procedures of accounting and financial reporting.   The governmental sub-area of accounting covers the same types of knowledge but applies the governmental standards of state and local reporting (GASB).


Auditing (governmental and non-governmental) learning activities cover the knowledge needed to perform a systematic and independent examination of data, statements, records, operations, and performances of an entity for a specified purpose.  The governmental sub-area of auditing covers the same types of knowledge but applies the governmental standards of state and local reporting (GASB) as well as the requirements of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Business Law

This field of study covers the legal system with emphasis on the relationship of the law to business and accounting.  Legal and tax issues, employment law and collection law are encompassed within the business law area of study.

The conversation of the challenges of integrating technology into the continuing professional education program required for Certified Public Accounting licensing and renewal is likely to continue for years to come.


The principles of microeconomics, macroeconomics, money and banking and public finance are all covered in the economics technical area.


Finance learning activities cover the financial management of an organization including financial planning and analysis, asset management, buying and selling businesses, contracting goods and services, and foreign operations.

Information Technology

Information technology coursework can be covered as its own subarea, however, when the information technology is specific to accounting, auditing, or taxes, then the learning activities fall within those subareas instead.  Information technology includes database management, cyber security, cloud computing, computer systems, networking, programming, and disaster recovery plans.

Management Services

Management services include the business processes of an entity, achieving efficiencies, improving cash flow and maintaining profitability.

Regulatory Ethics

This area deals with the necessary ethical background needed to comply with rules and regulations of state licensing organizations, governmental entities, membership associations, and other professional organizations.

Specialized Knowledge

For those working in specialized industries, this area offers coursework that meets their learning needs.  Learning activities for not-for-profit organizations, healthcare, gaming, oil and gas are included in specialized knowledge.


This smaller field of study includes business statistics, quantitative analysis, and probability.


The tax technical learning activities are divided into two topics: compliance and planning.  Compliance includes tax return preparation and review as well as IRS examinations, rulings and protests.  Planning focuses on understanding the tax implications of prospective transactions as well as unusual or complex transactions.