Evaluating CPE Quality

Have you ever wondered how to compare CPA CPE providers?

The number of continuing professional education providers for Certified Public Accountants and other financial professionals has dramatically increased in the last year or two. We have prepared the following checklist to help you evaluate CPE providers.
Of course, we hope FunCPE will be your primary continuing cpa education provider, but we realize that we cannot always provide the cpe online courses that meet your specific needs.

Checklist for online accounting cpe

1. Review recommended CPE hours

Have you noticed that some CPE providers offer 2 to 3 times the CPE hours as we do for exactly the same book? That may be because they do not pilot test each course to determine the recommended CPE hours (see pilot testing below).


2. Check for pilot testing procedures

All states require that every course be pilot tested prior to publication. If the provider site does not have a pilot tester signup, you can probably rest assured that they do not conduct pilot testing. It is time consuming and expensive to conduct pilot testing--but it is a "cost of doing business."

If you sign up to pilot test courses, you should be offered an opportunity to pilot test a course at least once a year; if not, the provider may just be adding you to the mailing list.


3. Locate a physical address for the business

Do you really want to trust your professional license to someone who doesn't reveal a physical address? Check to see if there is a physical address, perhaps in addition to a P.O. Box. Also verify there is a phone number.

Is the phone usually answered by an answering service? This may indicate the cpe provider is just a "storefront" for courses created elsewhere or a part-time business.


4. Determine the provider's regulatory authority

Who regulates CPE providers? Here is a short course on the rule makers for CPE providers:

NASBA

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, working jointly with the AICPA issues regulations for CPE for CPAs on a national basis. States can opt to follow NASBA guidelines or use their own state requirements.

NASBA-QAS

Quality Assurance Service(QAS) is a set of regulations governing self-study CPE for certain states that is more stringent than the standard NASBA requirements. Currently QAS courses are required for AR, FL, KS, MN, OR, TN and WV.

AICPA

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants issues regulations jointly with NASBA

EA

Department of the Treasury, Office of the Secretary regulates IRS Enrolled Agents and related CPE

IMA

Institute for Management Accountants regulates Certified in Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Financial Manager (CFM) designations and related CPE

States (for CPAs)

Each state regulates the CPAs in that state

CPE providers for CPAs can elect to either join NASBA or register with individual states (or both). Many states do not registration of any type.

While all states have specific CPE requirements that must be followed, most states do not require registration of CPE providers, and several states accept CPE from providers registered in another state.

5. Assess the age of the courses

The published state guidelines state that the courses should be reviewed and updated annually. Do the courses show a revision date, or last date updated?

6. Find out the total cost

Self-study CPE can include the following costs:

 

7. Read the testimonials

Notice if last names and/or cities are included in the quotation--or perhaps there are no customer testimonials at all?

8. Review the state acceptance listings

Do you see your state listed on some sites but not others as being a state that accepts CPE from a provider? CPA state requirements are often confusing and ambiguous, and can change frequently. State acceptance listings can vary from one cpe provider to another due to interpretations of the requirements or infrequent updating.

Be sure to be aware of your state's requirements and email the cpe provider before taking an exam if you are unsure if the provider's cpe meets your needs.