Congratulations on passing all of the CPA Exams, taking the ethics exam (if applicable in your jurisdiction), getting the experience necessary to become a CPA, AND successfully navigated the paperwork. You’ve earned it!!
Now that you have put in all that time, how can you make the best use of your license? Do you know what is necessary to make sure your license doesn’t lapse?
Similar to when you were getting your license, the requirements for maintaining a license differ from state-to-state, but there are some commonalities across all states that we’ll share here.
What Type of Continuing Education does a CPA License Require?
Regardless of jurisdiction, Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits are a requirement to maintain your license. Usually required every year, these credits can be obtained through a variety of approved sources, including seminars, webinars, and published materials. Each state and jurisdiction set their own requirements for frequency of renewal, renewal dates, CPE reporting periods, and the number of credits required annually, as well as the number and type of credits required in the reporting period.
Using Pennsylvania as an example, the reporting period is every two years and runs from January 1st of even years through December 31st of odd years. During each reporting period, 80 CPE credits must be completed, with at least 20 per year. In addition, those CPEs must include at least 16 CPEs in auditing, 8 in tax, and 4 in ethics.
Not all states break down their CPEs like this. For example, in Virginia 120 CPEs are required every 3 years, with an ethics course required every year. No two jurisdictions are the same when it comes to CPE requirements, so make sure to learn and follow the requirements for your jurisdiction.
Don’t forget to track your credits every year, either on your own or using the system your jurisdiction supplies.
Focus on the learning aspect of CPE, not just on crossing the credits off your to-do list!
Will CPEs and License Renewals Cost Me Money?
Yes, it’s true. Both renewing your license and obtaining the required CPE credits will mean an outlay of your hard-earned cash. However, many public accounting firms and even some private companies are willing to reimburse for the cost of CPE and license renewal, so definitely inquire about the possibility of reimbursement.
The options for CPE are endless, so consider taking CPE that applies to your current position or that will move you towards your career goals.
What Should I do to Network with Other CPAs?
Join your state/jurisdiction’s CPA society. Most have local chapters, in addition to the larger state-wide chapters. Take your membership a step further by being active in your local chapter and attending local events.
Join the AICPA. This national organization is dedicated to the furtherance of CPAs, and provides various networking opportunities, as well as free CPE events with your membership.
Overall, you will be doing yourself a great favor if you continue to develop your accounting skills, stay up to date on current topics, and continue to seek out new responsibilities. Aside from having this proactive attitude at work, there are other ways to develop yourself, including networking, volunteering, and even experimenting with different specialties. The more experiences you seek out, the more you will find your strengths and interests and direction for your career.
It can be overwhelming to think of all the “good” things you could be doing for your career, so don’t feel the need to do everything at once and stretch yourself too thin. It’s actually advantageous (and less stressful) to focus on a few things at a time.
What About Ethics?
We hope it goes without saying, but following the ethical standards is critical to maintaining your license as well. Don’t engage in any compromising behavior that could cost you your license. If you need a refresher on this, review the AICPA’s code of professional conduct.
If in doubt, use caution before risking your license – and even more importantly, your reputation.
We hope you are excited about your next steps in your career. Just remember, you have great potential as a CPA; make the most of it!