Passing the CPA exam is only the first step in a long series of challenges for CPAs. One ongoing challenge is meeting the required 40 hours annually of professional development.
Large, public accounting firms and big corporations may arrange to send their CPAs for annual professional development workshops and classes to help you meet the 40-hour requirement. CPAs who own their own businesses or who work for smaller companies don’t have that luxury.
It can be difficult to take time away from your own accounting practice to take classes that satisfy your continuing education requirements. Let’s face it; if you can take a week off, you want to go to the beach or the mountains, not to a stuffy meeting room. It can also be expensive to pay for airfare, hotel, and workshop fees.
There are alternatives to the typical round of workshops and conferences offering professional development hours for CPAs. On-demand learning is the latest method of distance learning that offers flexibility with the quality for certification credits.
On-Demand Learning for CPAs
On-demand learning for CPAs consists of online courses, workshops, and seminars. Those that receive CPA credit hours count towards your annual 40-hour certification requirement.
You can find on-demand learning from many providers:
- Companies offering workshops in conjunction with products or services
- Consulting firms offering on-demand learning on a variety of accounting topics
- Professional organizations and groups
- Local colleges and universities
- Online learning organizations and companies offering a variety of classes.
In all cases, check to make sure that the workshop you are interested in attending qualifies for CPA certification requirements.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Learning Opportunities
There are several factors to consider when assessing on-demand learning opportunities. These include:
- Quality: You’re going to spend 40 hours each year participating in workshops and classes. Make sure they are of the highest quality and relevant to your needs. Look for courses that address relevant topics. Instructors should be fellow CPAs or otherwise highly qualified to teach the subject matter. It’s also helpful if instructors are currently working as CPAs. People who are currently working as CPAs and senior accountants can answer questions and offer insights into common workplace scenarios more easily than those with solely academic qualifications.
- Affordability: One of the best things about on-demand learning is its affordability. Because most on-demand courses can be taken online, you immediately save money on travel expenses. You can also sandwich them into your day, taking them at lunchtime, in the evenings, or on weekends if they are pre-recorded. Most online courses and other on-demand learning opportunities are reasonably priced. Some are even free. A subscription-based continuing education provider can also provide greater savings, with an unlimited number of courses available to you during the subscription period.
- Speed: Another great benefit of on-demand learning is that it is self-paced. You can take classes as you need them. You don’t have to wait for a specific conference or workshop. Although it’s not smart to leave your continuing education requirements until the last minute, if you do get to the end of the year and find yourself lacking a few course hours, you can usually find an on-demand course to take online that will let you complete your requirement in record time.
Who doesn’t like to save time or money while learning valuable information? On-demand professional development answers the need for CPAs to finish their 40 hours of annual continuing education in a way that fits their needs.
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