June 17, 2019
- How to Earn CPE
- In-House/Custom Learning Programs
- Teaching and Reviewing CPE Learning Content
- Writing Articles
- Independent Study
- Learn More about CPE Program Types
This is the continuation of our prior article entitled “So Many Ways To Earn CPE Part 1”. In “Part 1” we established a number of the most popular and common means of earning CPE credit for CPAs. In this,“Part 2,” we go into greater depth and discuss still more ways to earn CPE credit. Continuing Professional Development (or CPE/CE/RCH/etc.) is a requirement for maintaining many professional certifications, like the CPA, CMA, CIA, and dozens more, including for Human Resources, legal professionals, physicians, and many others. Our goal here is to arm you with full knowledge around how to earn your CPE credits, therefore, hopefully, making it easier for you to do so.
In-house/custom Learning Programs
Some firms and companies create their own CPE learning content. They then deliver these courses or webinars in house for CPE credit. Others may hire qualified 3rd parties to create or deliver CPE training in house. This saves the firm or company from taking the time to build the training, yet still allows them to provide live training either in person or via live delivered webinar to their employees. Sometimes the 3rd party training is customized to the company yet still qualifies for CPE credit.
This training is interesting because it can be customized entirely to the needs of the firm or company that is training its employees. To be sure, it frequently is not customized, but rather ‘off the shelf’ training from a subject-matter-expert. This is fine as it’s still delivered live to the chosen firm/corporate audience.
The downside here is that custom training through 3rd parties can be very expensive and limited to the number of folks you can squeeze in a room, and many folks miss live trainings due to work conflicts, being out sick and so on. Plus, custom training that’s created in house can be very expensive in terms of time for the creator and the team supporting the creator in bringing the training to the broader organization. It is something many companies do, however, they tend to do it sparingly given the investment in time and money involved.
Teaching and Reviewing CPE Learning Content
Instructors and discussion leaders of qualified learning activities can receive CPE credit for the time they spend preparing, reviewing, and presenting the qualifying materials. These instructors can receive up to 2 times the number of CPE credits to which the participants of their learning activities would be entitled, in addition to the time for preparation, subject to maximums and other rules established by the state boards of accountancy. So you definitely want to make sure you check on the specific rules with your state board, but many do allow for these teaching and reviewing credits up to a certain number of credits per reporting period. Thus, if you are creating this kind of content you may as well get credit for doing that work.
While this works great for the first time you are preparing and presenting materials, note that if you present the same training multiple times you can only claim the CPE credits for the first time you created the content unless you are able to demonstrate that the learning activity content was substantially changed and that the change(s) required significant additional study or research on your part, as the preparer of the materials. Clearly NASBA and the state boards are trying to avoid the claiming of CPE credits for those who are simply repeating delivery of the same training materials over and over again.
If you are not delivering the program but rather reviewing it for the person delivering the program, you may receive CPE credit for that review activity.Typically, you can receive CPE credit for actual review time up to the number of CPE credits offered for the program itself. As with teaching, this is subject to state-board-based regulations and hour or credit maximums. And, as before, the CPE credits earned for reviewing can only be earned once for any particular reviewed material. If you are reviewing the same or similar material again you may not claim credit for the subsequent review unless there was a significant change to the content which required additional study or research on your part.
Similar to creating course materials or reviewing course materials, another activity that involves learning and the development of expertise is article writing. If you are writing articles, books, or CPE programs for publication, and this is a “structured activity” that improves professional competence, both NASBA and many states provide for earning CPE credit for the time involved. For the writer to receive CPE credit the article, book, or CPE program must be formally reviewed by an independent party, that is, someone who is qualified to review CRE programs for credit. Further, CPE credits should only be claimed upon publication of the article, book, or CPE program. You may not claim CPE credit for drafts or otherwise unpublished works.
You may be wondering whether you can “double dip” here for both authoring and then presenting the same learning material. According to the NASBA guidelines, receiving CPE credit for both authoring and presenting the same program should not be allowed. However, you may refer to your state board for their particular rules around claiming this “dual” activity.
Some CPAs have an interest in a particular area of study and may enter into an “independent study” program that qualifies for CPE credit. Such a program must be pre-approved by a qualified program sponsor and the CPE earned must be equal to the effort expended to improve professional competence. The credits cannot exceed the time devoted to the learning activities and maybe less than the actual time involved.
This option is sometimes used by CPAs at audit firms where the firm is a qualified program sponsor and may be able to structure and monitor appropriate independent study programs. This is a less frequently used mode of earning CPE and therefore should be thoroughly researched as to its admissibility for CPE credit prior to embarking on an independent study program. Make sure you check not only with your qualified sponsor but also with your state CPA society.
Learn More about CPE Program Types
The authoritative guidelines for CPE programs reside in the statement on standards for continuing professional education programs revised August 2016 and available on the NASBA website , linked here: https://www.nasbaregistry.org/__media/Documents/Others/Statement_on_Standards_for_CPE_Programs-2016.pdf. In addition to this material you should also check your state board of accountancy rules, typically available via their website, in order to make sure any CPE earning activities you undertake will qualify under their rules and regulations as well. You can usually look up the CPE guidelines for your state via a quick Google search.