Online CPA CPE versus In-Person CPE for Accountants

CPE is required by most states in the United States, though not all of them need it. For those states that do require continuing professional education, there are different regulations, so that some may need 40 hours every year, 80 hours every other year, and so on. In some cases, you may have a reduced number of hours required or more.

In-Person CPE

In-person CPE is quite different from online versions. There are many options available, including participant credit, in-house training, being an instructor or author.
Participant credits are rewarded for being in a formal class setting with an instructor and a written outline. You must attend all classes to complete the course and attendance is checked. In-house training is a specific form of job training, though this must also be in a formal setting and is quite similar to participant training. Although you may participate with other coworkers, regular on the job training isn’t considered approved for continuing professional education.

For those who have a mind, you can also be an instructor for formal class settings and get up to 10 credits worth of CPE, though the amount you receive is based on two hours of preparation and how long the class lasts. If you prefer to write articles, blogs or other material about CPA CPE, then you could also earn 10 credits a year towards your continuing education. You will need to prove you wrote those pieces and keep your proof for up to five years. This will usually include a description of the article or book.


Although a few years ago, online CPA continuing education was nearly unheard of, it is now very popular and considered the most common form of CPE training. These online options have final exams and offer a certificate of completion that will allow you to prove you took and passed the course and should be rewarded with the credits you receive.

There are a few forms of online coursework, including self-study and webinars. With webinars, you view the video and then take a short test. Self-study is a little different. You usually have specific materials to use in order to brush up on the topic. These can be online books, PDFs and other materials. Once you read through and understand the material, you can take the final test. If you pass with a percentage of 70 or better (90 percent for those living in California), you receive your certificate.

Online CPA CPE (Certified Public Accountant Continuing Professional Education) can be found with many providers. Visit CPE Think to learn about their options.

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