Where to buy Continuing Education (CPE)?
Purchasing CPE is no longer the daunting task that it once was. With the advent of the internet you can purchase CPE 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Most if not all providers have a web presence even if they do not provide their courses over the internet. In the case of a seminar provider you can register for their seminars over the web and attend them at a later date. This makes the registration process extremely convenient.

Self-Study providers have really taken advantage of the web medium and virtually all of them provide CPE directly from their Web Sites. Our partner www.CPEcredit.com has been providing quality CPE for accountants for over 8 years. You will find that as your educational needs grow and the time you have to dedicate to your education shrinks that online CPE will become a simple way to meet your education needs.

Selecting a self study provider.
Several things should be considered when selecting a Continuing Education Provider. Continuing Education was put in place to ensure, as licensed professionals CPA’s maintain informed on current developments in the ever changing accounting industry. The factors that should be considered while selecting a provider are whether your state will recognize the provider’s courses, customer service, course format, and longevity of the company.

While reviewing a self-study provider the most import thing to find out is weather your state will accept their courses for continuing education credit. Each state in the U.S. has their own State board which sets the rules and regulations that a CPA must follow. Depending on what state you are licensed in will determine whether the provider is required to have a sponsor number or not. Not all state issue a sponsor number, but in the states that do it is extremely important that the provider has entered into a sponsorship agreement with your state or you run the risk of having the courses rejected.

Customer service is one of those issues that is universally important no matter the product or service you are using. In the case of a self study provider you will find customer service is critical if you find yourself up against a reporting deadline and have not completed your required continuing education. Some of the questions you should ask before a purchase are what are the hours of operation, is their website useful, does it have a useful commonly asked questions area, and can their customer support be contacted via e-mail after hours. You may find that providers that offer the best price my not offer the kind of customer/provider interaction that you require. You will find this especially true of some of the smaller providers that have popped up in recent years that are merely offer an online presence and no actual support staff in place to assist you with your questions and needs.

With the advent of the internet and more importantly the growing availability of broad band internet connections a professional literally can buy and begin a their CPE with in a matter of minutes any time of the day or night. Though this can be extremely convenient, be sure to consider the first two items we spoke about as well as whether or not the online format if right for you. If you are up against you reporting deadline then your immediate need will out weigh your format preference, but generally the format of the course will be important when making your decision. Do you mind reading your course material from a computer screen or would you rather read from a book. Would video help with your learning experience or would an audio recording meet your needs? Do you want an interactive webinar that must be scheduled in advance or would an on demand webcast fit your schedule better. These are the types of questions that you will have to ask your self when deciding the format of your self-study.

Is the Company still going to be around next year? You got your course and finished it and the company issued you your certificate of completion so who cares that they are gone. Well the short answer is your State board of Accountancy does. Most if not all State Boards of a Accountancy require that self-study providers keep records of completed courses for a specific minimum time frame. The general rule of thumb is 3 years but some state require a minimum of 5 years. State require this because during an audit of a professional the State Board will request copies of the certificates that were issued to the professionals as well as may require records from the provider. So you can see that if you ever find yourself in a educational audit it will be very import that the provider still be around to provide the documents required by your state board.

As you can see that while self-study is certainly one of the most cost effective and convenient methods to complete you education requirements, there are several important things to take into consideration. I believe that once you find a providers that meet your needs; self-study will make up the majority of your continuing education.

Webinar Vs. Webcast.
You will find while searching for a provider in this new electronic age that there is wide variety of courses formats available to choose from. Gone are the days of merely reading a book and answering a few questions to receive your certificate of completion. You will find that continuing education has taken many forms. One of the newest formats is the Webcast and the Webinar. The Webcast and the Webinar though sounding similar are quite different.

While both involve video over the internet, that is were the similarity ends. A web cast is a prerecorded broad cast that can be started and stopped at any time and is generally considered the more convenient of the two. While the video is a convenient way to receive the information most webcast courses will also include a text or work book to supplement the learning experience and should contain Review questions with answer key and explanations. Like more traditional continuing education, credit will not be issued for the course till a final exam has been completed and a minimum score of 70% is achieved.

A Webinar is still video but unlike the Webcast it is a live broadcast. Since this is a live broadcast most Webinars will use chat technology to give all the participants the ability to interact and ask questions from the speaker presenting the course. As with a live seminar a Webinar is going to have some limitations. You will have to register for the class as you would for a seminar so you will have to have that time available to attend, and there may also be a limit to the number of participants. If you are able to attend a Webinar you will find that the ability to ask questions will provide a much richer learning experience than a Webcast even if it lacks some of the convenience.

Self-Study Vs. Live Presentation
As a licensed professional required to do continuing education to keep your license active you will have to decide weather you will attend live presentations or complete self-study programs. Much of this decision will be based on personal preference, but there will be other factors to consider. How much time do you want to dedicate to your CE, what will fit into you budget, and most importantly you have to decide what format is going to work best for you .

Self-Study

Pros:
· No Need to Schedule
· Does not require you to be out of the office
· Typically more cost effective
· Course typically make for great reference guide for future use.

Cons:
· Requires a little more self discipline for the professional
· Does not provide interaction with other professionals

Live Presentation

Pros:
· Ability to ask questions from the instructor
· Interaction with other professionals
· Chance to get out of the office

Cons:
· Seminars don’t always fit into your schedule
· Cost can range from $50 to Over $200 for an 8Hr seminar
· Seminars are not always local and may require travel and lodging increasing overall cost
· Topics in your area may sometimes be limited


CPE Credit Online Testing
www.cpecredit.com

CPE Credit Online Testing
www.cpecredit.com

CPE Credit Online Testing
www.cpecredit.com

CPE Credit Online Testing
www.cpecredit.com