Whether those who obtain a CPA certificate should be required to participate in continuing professional education (CPE) in order to maintain a license or certificate.
In order to assure continuing professional competence, nearly all states require licensees to complete continuing education.
Importance to CPAs
The purpose of the continuing professional education requirement is to increase the professional competence of each member of the profession. The environment within which the accounting professional functions is more demanding than ever before. Increasing specialization, a proliferation of regulations and the complex nature of business transactions require a renewed emphasis on continuing maintenance of competence. It is essential that CPAs maintain their professional knowledge by participating in CPE required by their states.
The AICPA supports the position that all CPAs should be required to accomplish CPE within a given time frame. AICPA also encourages flexibility by state boards of accountancy in recognizing CPE credit which accommodates specialization in the profession.
In 2002, the Joint AICPA/NASBA Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs released CPE standards focusing on proficiency skills.
To comply with the standards, CPAs should: (1) participate in learning activities that maintain or improve their professional competence; (2) comply with all applicable CPE standards, rules and regulations of state licensing bodies, other governmental entities, membership associations, and other professional organizations or bodies; (3) claim the recommended CPE credit only for CPE programs that comply with the standards; and (4) accurately report the appropriate number of CPE credits earned, and maintain documentation of their participation in learning activities giving rise to those credits.
The standards also incorporate the concept of independent study learning, allowing a CPA to engage in a program of learning with a qualified sponsor on a one-on-one basis. These concepts have been included in the Uniform Accountancy Act as Appendix B.
In 2012, the Boards of Directors for the AICPA and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) voted to give final approval to the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards). The jointly published Standards provide a framework for the development, presentation, measurement, and reporting of CPE programs. The New Standards are effective July 1, 2012 (except self-study programs already in existence as of December 31, 2011; they are effective March 1, 2014).
While requirements for CPE vary from state to state, many states have made changes in their statutes to reflect UAA-related CPE requirements and the 2002 standards. In 2008, legislation in Minnesota to reduce the number of CPE hours required was opposed by the state society and failed to pass.
AICPA Staff Contacts
Suzanne Jolicoeur, State Regulation and Legislation, 919.402.4906
Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs
Uniform Accountancy Act