Those who are licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) or Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) or Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs) must complete required continuing professional education (CPE) each year. This type of accounting course must meet certain standards in order to be acceptable to the certifying board or group. For example, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy recognizes certain sponsors as providing CPE that meets Texas standards. An accounting course from an unrecognized sponsor might not qualify for CPE.
Most states require licensed CPAs to obtain 40 hours per year of CPE. In Texas each CPA must also take a four-hour ethics class every three years, and half of the 40 hours reported each year must be technical hours. This means the class must discuss technical subject matter like taxes, auditing, or financial accounting standards. Non-technical hours may include things like human resource management, communications, or marketing.
CMAs maintain their certification through completing at least 30 hours per year of qualifying courses, at least two hours of which must be in ethics. The types of courses acceptable for the CMA continuing education include the following: accounting, financial management, business applications of mathematics and statistics, computer science, economics, management, production, marketing, business law, and organizational behavior.
Continuing professional education is also required for Certified Fraud Examiners. Information about the type of class and hours required is not available in the public areas of the CFE website, but is accessible to members only.
According to the Institute of Internal Auditors, Certified Internal Auditors who are performing internal auditing functions must report a total of 80 hours of acceptable CPE every two years. CIAs who are not performing internal auditing must complete and report at least 40 hours of acceptable courses every two years. This site describes the following as possible topics: auditing and accounting; management and communication; computer sciences; mathematics, statistics, and quantitative applications in business; economics; business law; specific business topics such as finance, production, marketing, and personnel; specialized industry areas such as government, banking, utilities, or oil and gas.
In most cases a certification such as those above will enhance a professional’s career opportunities and advancement. Information about the certification and how to obtain it is found at the website for the state agency or organization that certifies individuals. The purpose of certifications is to establish that a person meets standards and is qualified to perform the services that the organization sets standards for. As part of this, applicants must pass qualifying examinations and also maintain ongoing education to remain competent.