Just as some employees negotiate for more continuing education opportunities through their employer, employees in those industries that require continuing education credit often grumble and complain. Instead of grousing, here are some tips to get the most out of those CPE credits and maybe even make them a little more fun.
Analyze your motives – What do you really want out of your CPE courses? If the answer is, “I want to maintain my credentials,” then optimize your class choices to minimize effort and expense. If, however, you seek to develop new competencies or pursue an advanced degree, then you may justify spending more class time and expense on courses that move you towards those larger goals while also satisfying CPE requirements.
Research your options – There are more classes available today than any one person could attend in several lifetimes. It is worth the time spent researching class topics, trainers, and course syllabus to ensure that you enjoy and gain value from the class.
When researching a class, consider these factors:
- Accreditation – It can be easy to get distracted when looking through long lists of interesting topics. Start by identifying the requirements you need and choose classes that meet those requirements. Look up your state’s specific requirements for CPA’s here, for example.
It might go without saying, but you need to make sure the class is accredited. Cross-reference the classes you are considering with professional organizations such as NASBA’s Learning Market to find accredited providers.
- Depth of the course – Is the course a “one off,” or does it offer rich source material and valuable take-home content? Evaluate a class for the resources it provides beyond the classroom. Also consider the credentials of the trainer or instructor. You may find a particular speaker rewarding to listen to and learn from, even if the topic of the class is outside your usual range.
- Delivery – From in-person classes to online group study, there are many continuing education choices. Pick a format that meets your personal learning style. For example, if you are invigorated by conversation and debate with classmates, an online or self-driven course may not be a good fit for you.
Plan your training – If you wait until right before you need to renew your license, you are more likely to burn out on classes and find them less enjoyable. Take time to plan ahead and spread your CPE over the duration instead of binging.
Maximize your budget – The majority of private sector CPAs pay for their own continuing education. So, if budget is tight, consider a provider that offers an educational subscription program. Fred Pryor’s Training Rewards program, for example, offers access to a library of live seminars, online courses, and CPE accredited courses for a low cost annual fee. This provides significant savings when several classes are needed.
But what about having fun? When you choose classes that fit your personal learning style, and topics that inspire you in your work, you’re much more likely to have fun than if you pick a random class because of the time of day it’s offered.