Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

It education credits refer to the credits obtained by professionals in professional training and other fields.

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Austin has been working with Ernst & Young for over four years, starting as a senior consultant before being promoted to a manager. At EY, he focuses on strategy, process and operations improvement, and business transformation consulting services focused on health provider, payer, and public health organizations. Austin specializes in the health industry but supports clients across multiple industries.

Austin has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration in Strategy, Management and Organization, both from the University of Michigan.

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Last Updated:November 3, 2023

What is Continuing Professional Education (CPE)?

Continuing Professional Education, also known as CPE, refers to the credits obtained by professionals participating in professional training in IT, accounting, and other fields.

Credits depend on study hours and are included in the certification program, enabling professionals to maintain or update their certificates.

It ensures that you remain adept and knowledgeable in your field of work and gives you the abilities you need to advance in your job. It will also keep going your professional development.

It is always mentioned that Continuous Professional Development (CPD) ensures that you remain proficient and competent in your profession and provides basic skills that are conducive to your career development.

This is a prerequisite for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and the purpose is to support them in maintaining their competence and skill sets as professional service providers.

Certified public accountants must abide by all laws in the country where they were founded as part of the ongoing requirements to keep their certification effective.

According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), certified public accountants must complete at least 120 hours of training for certified public accountants in each three-year reporting period.

Continuing professional education credits are obtained by professionals in professional training and other fields.

The credits are based on hours that one studies and are included in the certification program to enable professionals to maintain or update their certificates.

The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that professionals continue to learn and keep pace with the development of the industry.

Continuing education and certification are essential because they can help employees and their companies improve their competitiveness by increasing the skills they can provide.

Key takeaways

  • CPE helps you continue to be proficient and competent in your career and provides you with the necessary skills to help you progress in your career. 
  • It is long-term progress other than a short-term one, which lays great importance on continuing to help in one's career development.
  • It is a professional way of self-improvement since it is officially certified by many institutions in all fields.
  • Members must earn credits from qualified programs that experienced professionals develop, contribute to members' competence, and are formally offered. 
  • In-house training programs, university classes, conferences, trade shows, or e-learning providers are qualifying programs, which makes accessing them convenient.
  • To earn the certification, it is necessary to put in a lot of energy and time, not only to fulfill the requirements of this certification but also to improve the understanding of specific areas.
  • It has become more and more important today, which, to some extent, forces people to arm themselves with knowledge of computer science. Earning a certificate for this does help in people's IT careers.
  • It is also essential to learn basic statistical skills whether you want to become an accountant. But continuing education is a good choice if you want to be a professional.
  • Keeping learning is always important to one's career in contemporary society. However, it is never enough for us to stop our steps toward more knowledge, professional skills, and a better self.

Why Continuing Professional Education (CPE) is important

A certified public accountant advises clients on essential accounting issues that significantly impact the enterprise and its stakeholders for a trusted consultant.

The foundation of accounting is a massive body of knowledge that is ever-growing, evolving and keeps becoming increasingly complicated.

To ensure that certified public accountants provide the advice and service quality that customers rely on, certified public accountants are crucial.

With the development of global business and the impact of technology and regulation growing at a faster rate, the need to maintain relevance through CPE has become increasingly important in the following ways:

1. Display your professional competence 

It is acknowledged as a trustworthy toolbox that CPAs can use to display their subject-matter expertise to potential employers. It's critical to immerse yourself in various accounting topics once the time for taking review courses to acquire accounting content has passed. In addition, employers are more likely to trust accountants with good credit.

As a guarantee of your experience and management abilities, these credits demonstrate to potential employers your competence in delivering answers to accountancy problems that businesses encounter regularly.

2. Improve your dormant skills 

The necessity for industry professionals to update their current abilities and stay ahead of the curve is expanding as the pandemic rages on unabatedly.
Its training can assist you in regaining essential abilities like strategic decision-making and problem-solving in these difficult circumstances.

In addition, the training programs assist staff members in reviving and honing underused abilities they have accumulated over the years and in figuring out how to use them in real-world scenarios.

Accounting professionals maintain their familiarity with the necessary skills by earning enough credits. These courses also serve as a launching point for retraining in-demand knowledge tools and unlearning outmoded abilities.

3. Gain tech skills for your career 

It is known that 2021 will usher in the era of fully digital services. The pandemic has made it urgently necessary to give accounting professionals future-focused skills.
Accounting professionals must stay up to the trend of organizations and corporations going online by developing the necessary tech skills.

To mention a few concurrent abilities in data analytics, business intelligence, and cloud computing. But on the other hand, automation is now the preferred strategy for many businesses worldwide.

Therefore, accountants can improve their skill sets by utilizing AI and machine learning technologies. In addition, you will be more equipped to use these technologies to improve your professional performance if you take the appropriate tech-oriented courses.

4. Network with your peers 

Accountants have many opportunities to meet other professionals during their training. It serves as a fair playing field so they can apply their skills in actual situations. In addition, when you put effort into your course preparation, your peers might be instrumental if you know how to network effectively.

Your professional development might be significantly aided by the active community of seasoned accountants that the courses frequently provide. They are typically students working on learning similar things to you.

Certifications and credentials Under CPE

People who participate in continuing professional education can receive certificates and credentials, which can help them obtain what they need for their careers.

For example, if one would like to pursue a position in Information Technology, relative certifications and credentials can be obtained, which include but are not limited to the following:

Microsoft Certified Professional, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Technician, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), etc.

Many of these certificates are regarded as continuing education units. For example, CompTIA describes its A+ certification in this way.

Many IT fields, especially those related to cloud computing and information security, need professionals to receive regular training.

Generally speaking, professionals need a certain number of school hours to get a specific certification and a certain number of school points to maintain their certification. However, the required school points depend on the IT field in which professionals work.

Eighty-seven percent of IT professionals have at least one certification. In the past six months, 4 in 10 certified IT professionals have obtained the latest certification.

One of the main benefits of certified professionals is higher wages. For example, professionals with cloud computing and network security certification earn the highest salaries in the United States and Canada.

In addition, this certification can improve job performance. For example, after training to obtain this certification, more than half of IT professionals found the quality of their work increased. In contrast, one-third found their work more engaging after accreditation. 

Another 15 percent provide the information that they avoid more mistakes after the certification.

Credits are significant to IT, accounting, and other professionals as a stepping stone to obtaining certificates.

These qualifications apply to all fields, from entry-level to higher-level advanced skills and from existing disciplines to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and data science.

CPE aims to ensure that CMAs, CPAs, and other accounting professionals continue to practice their profession with professionalism, competence, and expertise.

These opportunities give accountants the abilities and information necessary to execute their tasks successfully.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Classification

The type of continuing education provided and the mode of implementation usually determine the academic scores awarded.

CPE includes training seminars, conferences, on-site and online courses, and webinars. Serving on industry committees, self-study, submitting field articles, and volunteering can also help professionals obtain credits.

For example, to obtain credits for the (ISC)2 qualification certificate, professionals may combine these two skills and obtain an MBA degree or a score for inviting industry professionals to speak at an event.

In some IT fields, professionals can accumulate credits through online tests. For example, according to Information Security Magazine, security experts can take various tests in the field of information security.

This mainly includes Information Security Management (ISM), artificial intelligence security risk, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and network security to test their knowledge and obtain credits.

These courses vary, but some are relatively short and may focus on a general review of professional competencies or an overview of new technologies, practices, or skills.

In addition, some IT certification programs allow candidates to have some units from other fields.

How do professionals know whether their training meets the credit requirements? Professionals can use applications such as CompTIA's continuing education unit assessment tool before submitting their CEU training activities.

This tool helps to determine whether continuing education activities meet the program requirements for certification updates. It looks for completion dates, documents, and content.

(ISC)2 divides the credits into two levels:

Group A credits:

  • Read magazines, books, or white papers.
  • Publish a book, white paper, or article.
  • Attend the meeting.
  • Participate in educational courses, seminars, or presentations, and prepare to present or teach information security information.
  • Execute a unique work-related project that is not part of the normal responsibilities of the individual.
  • Self-study related to project research to prepare for the certification examination.
  • Provide voluntary services to government agencies, the public, and other charitable organizations.
  • Study higher academic courses.

Group B credits:

  • Attend conferences, educational courses, seminars, or lectures.
  • Prepare presentations or teaching information related to professional development.
  • Self-study related to project research or preparation for certification examination; And attending higher academic courses.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements

All screening psychologists must complete the online exam of the post-peace officer psychological screening handbook.

They must complete at least 12 hours of approved continuing professional education every two years, which is consistent with the renewal cycle of their licenses.

The tracking system will automatically calculate the required hours according to this requirement's effective date and when the psychologist starts the millennium peace assessment. 

Credit requirements vary from certification to certification. For instance, IT professionals with ISACA certification, such as CISM, CISA, or CRIC, need to obtain 120 credits every three years and at least 20 credits every year.

ISACA organizes conferences, seminars, workshops, chapter plans, or meetings for professionals to obtain units as a governance association. ISACA also accepts continuing professional education courses or activities organized by other organizations.

Some companies organize this training, online training is conducted by education providers, or attending seminars will give participants credits to update their ISACA accreditation.

On the other hand, (ISC)2 certification requires professionals to update it every three years so that network security or IT security professionals can edit it in time. Thus, individuals must continue to receive professional education.

For example, certification of information system security professionals (CISSP) involves many aspects of information security, such as security and risk management, Ian, and security operations, which may take months or years to achieve.

People have to pay for credits, and the cost of certification varies, which sometimes can be expensive.

In addition, the organization can also provide some guarantees for the course costs. For example, the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) programs.

The focus of such courses is to train safety professionals based on standard methods, providing a work-study system and teaching credits that can be exchanged in class at a reduced rate.

CPE Governance – NASBA and AICPA

Different CPA institutions have the governance of CPE.

The state level is where certified public accountants are appointed in the US.

As a result, certified public accountants must adhere to the rules and regulations established by the nation in which they are registered.

NASBA serves the interests of the state board of directors, while AICPA serves the interests of individual accountants


The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) is an organization that provides services to more than 50 nationally certified public accountants committees.

Its mission is to improve the National Accounting Committee's effectiveness and promote its members' common interests.
NASBA has the following functions:

  • Encourage countries to mutually recognize the designation of Certified Public Accountants (each government acknowledges that the title of the other party is valid).
  • Provide a platform for national certified public accountants organizations to discuss important issues.
  • Provide a unified voice in US government agencies.
    NASBA maintains an official register of CPE sponsors, which most states use as a list of approved CPE providers.


The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), founded in 1887, has more than 400,000 members. It represents an individual CPA, and membership is optional.

AICPA's primary goal is to establish professional ethics standards, formulate audit standards for companies, organizations, and governments, and create a unified CPA examination and score it. In addition, they have also created professional certificates in financial planning, legal accounting, enterprise valuation, and information management.

For AICPA members, the reporting period starts from January 1, the first full calendar year after accession. According to AICPA, certified public accountants must complete at least 120 hours of continuing professional education in each three-year reporting period.

The number of credits earned by approved programs follows the "50 minutes = 1 credit" rule. Specific state requirements are available on the NASBA website.

Guidance on Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Trade associations, colleges, vocational schools, and private companies provide training for credits.

Before starting the training, professionals should study the organization that will provide credits and ensure that these credits can be included in their required professional education. The strictness of standards varies in different fields.

The organizations participating in the continuing education program include (ISC)2 (International Information System Security Certification Alliance) and ISACA (Information System Audit and Control Association).

These organizations often work with universities, business schools, and companies to help professionals obtain credits. For example, (ISC)2 Works with security organizations and technology innovators.

If the number of hours is not shown in the course the member attends, they can calculate the number of minutes taken to complete the course divided by 50.

This figure should be rounded to the nearest whole hour.


Members of certified public accountants are required to comply with all established requirements set by their respective national licensing bodies and other government entities, member associations, and other professional bodies.

It cannot be overemphasized that the member states should contact all necessary entities in their reports and personally confirm their specific requirements.

Occasionally, members can register and complete education courses provided by suppliers not approved by NASBA or AICPA. In some cases, a certain number of such hours may be eligible for credit.

To determine whether an unapproved program can still provide credits to members, individuals should retain all relevant information in the program and apply to their state committees for eligibility.

Record Documentation and Evidence

Members of certified public accountants are responsible for accurately and adequately reporting the number of credits they have obtained. This includes documentation and evidence of participation and achievement of learning objectives.

The official unit of measurement is credit, which is equal to 50 minutes of program time.

Although measuring and reporting credits is essential, AICPA reminds members that the primary focus should always be education and skills development rather than simply accumulating credits.

Document retention is essential if members of certified public accountants are required to prove their continuing education to regulators or other organizations that may require proof.

AICPA recommends that the best practice is keeping records for at least five years after completing the education development plan.

Examples of acceptable evidence include:

  • Completion certificate issued by the approved CPE project initiator.
  • A certificate that all qualification assessments have been completed in the self-study course.
  • Academic records or transcripts issued by universities.
  • More acceptable examples can be found on the NASBA website.

Report Credits

In addition to document retention and evidence, certified public accountants must also practice appropriate reporting practices.

The certified public accountant shall not need more credits than those recommended by the plan sponsor, even if the member thinks the plan should provide more credits. If this happens, it is recommended to discuss the issue directly with NASBA.

Certified public accountants enjoy extensive freedom to participate in preferred sponsorship programs but should only apply for credits for activities that genuinely improve their professional ability.

In addition, if members have completed only a part of the course, they can only apply for credits for the position completed or participated in.

Reviewed and Edited by Raghav Dharmarajan

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