Accounting Certifications: Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

4. Maintaining your CPA license and continuing professional education (CPE)

Once you have passed your CPA exam, obtained necessary work experience (if applicable in your state), met other requirements, and finally, received your CPA license, your CPA journey does not end.  In fact, this is just the beginning of – what we hope – a long and successful CPA career for you.

There are several items to consider once you have obtained your CPA license:

  1. The accounting profession sees a lot of changes every year so Certified Public Accountants are required to maintain their skills and knowledge by taking continuing professional education (CPE).  Each states has its own requirements for CPE.  If you become a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), you will be subject to AICPA’s CPE requirements as well.  Usually, you will want to aim at about 40 CPE hours per year.  These annual requirements include a minimum number of training you need to have in the areas of accounting, auditing, and ethics as compared to other areas such as taxation or consulting.  CPE training can be obtained in multiple ways or formats.  You can receive CPE credits for attending a training webinar, taking a self-study course, or even preparing and delivering CPE training, among other options.  CPE training is widely and readily available from multiple educational organizations, associations (check your state CPA association or AICPA), and even internal training provided by your company. For example, a lot of training provided by larger public accounting firms qualifies for CPE hours.  Note that for training to be accepted for CPE hours, it needs to be CPE qualified and meet certain requirements.
  2. There may be instances where a CPA license can be suspended or revoked by your state due to various violations.  For example, failure to meet your CPE requirements may result in your CPA license being suspended or revoked.  Other more serious infractions such as financial or other fraud may also result in CPA being revoked.  This is done to protect public trust in the CPA profession.  Check your state laws and regulations.
  3. Aside from CPE requirements, Certified Public Accountants are also required to renew their CPA license with their state.  Maintaining the required number of CPE training hours and renewing your CPE license are two separate – though related – activities.  Check your state’s regulations about renewal dates, frequency, requirements, and fees.
  4. If you happen to move to a different state or if you work in a different state temporarily, you will need to check that state’s CPA requirements.  If you move permanently, you will likely need to apply for a CPE license in the new state.  If you work in a different state temporarily, you may or may not need a CPA license or temporary permit to practice as a CPA there.
  5. Even though the CPA certification is very flexible and applicable to a variety of jobs, you may also want to consider other accounting certifications.  For example, if your job is in internal audit, you may consider a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) license in addition to your CPA license.  There is no limit to how many certifications you may have. A lot of professionals have multiple accounting licenses.

We hope this article has been helpful to you in learning more about Certified Public Accountants.  CPAs are well equipped with knowledge and experience for a good accounting career so it is definitely one of the accounting certifications to consider if you plan to work in the accounting profession.

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