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Complying with CPA CPE Requirements: 10 Things To Consider
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Complying with CPA CPE Requirements: 10 Things To Consider

Nicholas Branson, CPA
Nicholas Branson, CPA
  • April 25, 2022 03:38 PM EST
  • | 6 mins read

CPA is an internationally recognized accounting designation. This credential comes after years of study, hard work, domain knowledge, and of course, a difficult exam to crack before you obtain your license. 

But that’s just about the start. The license must be renewed every 1-3 years by meeting state licensing requirements, which differ depending upon your state’s board of accountancy. In fact, there are 55 license-granting jurisdictions in the U.S. (the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Mariana Islands).

Besides maintaining appropriate ethical standards of practice and a license renewal fee, CPE or Continuing Professional Education is the most important link between your practice and license renewal. 

Earning CPE credits complying with CPA requirements will not be a challenge if you keep the following 10 factors in mind. Let’s take a look!

Approvals from Governing Bodies

For CPE credits, you must check who the approving bodies are and how they relate to CPAs. They need to adhere to the standards that govern their state of registration. In addition to that, you must also make sure that your CPE sponsor is approved by NASBA.

NASBA is the national forum that serves the 55 State Boards of Accountancy and runs an accreditation system for CPE sponsors, granted as an ID number that specifies how many CPE hours are associated with their approved courses. Their goal is to monitor the accounting profession and give key stakeholders an avenue to address emerging trends.

Then there is AICPA too. Besides creating and grades the Uniform CPA Exam, they also enforce compliance and ethics standards within the accounting industry.

myCPE is a NASBA approved CPE provider.

General CPE Requirements

Every state has different requirements in terms of the number of CPE credits that must be completed each year. Many state accountancy boards (such as Alabama, Connecticut,  require them to earn 40 CPE annually, 

Generally, CPAs require 40 credits annually on an average. However, not all state requirements are fulfilled the same way. Depending on which state you reside in, you may complete 40 hours a year, while others will require you to complete 80 hours within two years. and others want you to complete 120 hours of CPE triennially. 19 states that need 120 hours triennially are:

Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Know your detailed state CPE requirements on myCPE.


You must ensure that your state board approves the ethics course before taking it. If you're not certain, you can always find the information on their site or contact them by email.

Though many states accept a general Regulatory Review or Ethics course, some states require separate approval and specify what needs to be covered in their state ethics courses. Also, some states recognize ethics courses that are only approved by their own state board.

myCPE hosts ethics courses of all states except Tennessee and Louisiana. They are going to be uploaded very soon. Check out the Available ethics courses.

Qualifying Courses

For your CPE, you may not always consider only technical accounting courses or excessively non technical subjects. The overall CPE reporting must be a combination of both.

Having said that, non-technical courses, such as personal development and behavioral skills are areas of professional development that may not have any direct connection with your practice, but they can make a change in your career.

It is up to each state board to decide whether nontechnical courses count towards CPE hours and whether there are restrictions on how many or what proportion of non-technical courses can be counted in a reporting period.

Carry Forward Credits

You may carry forward credits from one compliance period to the next consecutive compliance period if more credits are required than in the earlier compliance period. There are few states that allow carrying forward of CPE while most states don’t. 

For example:

States that allow carrying forward of credits - Wisconsin, Connecticut, etc.

States don’t allow carry forward of credits - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, etc. 

Learning Avenues

CPA's can obtain CPE certification through various CPE programs approved by AICPA or NASBA to enhance their skills, improve their career prospects, and improve their ability to venture into new areas. However, ensure you comply with your state's BOA requirements before diving deep into these methods.

Here are a few Learning Avenues for CPA's to gain CPE credit:

Subject Restriction

States may specify a criteria that minimum CPE shall be taken in the area of A&A/Taxes or Technical subjects. There may be a regulation that minimum CPE shall be taken through live courses (as they are interactive) or only 50% credits can be taken through self study courses. Many State boards don't accept personal development, communication, marketing, software, management courses and other non-technical subjects for CPE. Also there are some states that restrict the number of credits taken in the subject areas of personal development, communication, marketing, software, management courses, spirituality, computers etc. for CPE. 

For example

  • Illinois Board of Accountancy doesn't accept personal development, communication, marketing, software, management courses for CPE. Additionally, there is a mandatory requirement of 1 CPE hour in Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Illinois CPA 

  • Tennessee ethics courses must be provided and approved by the Tennessee state board.

  • 16 out of 40 CPE shall be in the A&A or Taxes in case of Arizona CPAs.

  • Maximum 50% CPE can be in self study form in case of Indiana CPAs.

  • In the case of Mississippi CPA maximum 8 CPE can be taken in non-technical areas.

  • California - At least 2 hours in regulatory review every 6 years

Reporting Deadline

CPAs professionals are required to submit their credits and hours before the December 31 deadline. The number of credits and hours vary from state to state.

If you were issued your CPA license on or around December 31, your deadline would be near that date. Your expiration date may depend on the date your license was initially issued, your birthdate, state-specific extensions due to COVID-19, or other factors. 

For example, if you earned your CPA license before January 1 of your birth year, and your birthday falls between March 31 and April 15 (e.g., January 1, 2014), the renewal deadline may fall near the end of December.


Alaska (AK) CPA CPE Requirement

It is important to know that all CPE courses offered in Alaska are available online. Additionally, all courses can be taken at your convenience.

  • CPE Reporting Cycle: December 31 within 2 years

  • CPE Credit requirement: 80 hours

  • Ethics credits: 4 hours

Oklahoma (OK) CPA CPE Requirement

  • CPE Reporting Cycle: January 1 to December 31 over a 3-year

  • CPE Credit requirement: 120 hours

  • Ethics credits: 4 hours

Record Documentation

A CPA must receive a certificate from an organization or individual hosting the training to get credit hours for their professional financial training. In addition, CPE certificates may be requested by the State Board of Accountancy to verify the CPA's compliance with requirements. Because these requests can occur at any time, it is important to record all attendance certificates.

CPAs are responsible for documenting evidence of the completion of their CPE credits, and NASBA recommends CPAs keep record of this documentation for at least 5 years. You need to ensure you obtain the information necessary for CPE reporting. A certificate containing the following information is the simplest way to achieve this.

  • Name

  • Name of program

  • Date of program

  • Hours of attendance

  • Date of completion

  • Subject area covered

  • CPE hours/credits

Reporting CPE Credits

Just as CPAs are responsible for documenting their Continuing Professional Education credits, they are also responsible for accurately reporting their CPE activity. This means only claiming credit(s) for learning activities that improve your professional competence and only reporting credit for the portion(s) of a course that you attended or completed. Also, make sure your learning activity is recommended by CPE program sponsors and adheres to your state board’s regulations.

CPAs must keep accurate records of CPE credits they have accrued. This includes the retention of documentation and evidence of participation and completion of learning objectives.

The retention of documents is crucial if CPA members are ever asked for proof of continuing education by regulators or other organizations.

Examples of permissible evidence include:

  • An approved CPE program sponsor issues the certificate of completion

  • Self-study program certificate indicating all assessments have been completed

It is important to make sure your CPE credits are in compliance with the requirements set out by the AICPA and your specific State Board of Accountancy. Your CPE credits will only count if they are earned from an authorized CPE provider. 

There are very few online CPE providers that offer the depth of the experience and expertise in continuing professional education like the way myCPE does. Hope that the above article is helpful to you. If you have any queries, feel free to reach out to us at Happy Learning!

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Nicholas Branson, CPA

Nicholas Branson, CPA


The author, Nick Branson is a CPA and Co- president of myCPE – Continuing Education Platform for Professionals. He has experience of more than 2 decades in the field educating the top professionals in the field of CPA, CMA, CIA and many more.

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