How to earn free CPE creditsBy Jeanne Hopkins
Free is a very good price, as they say, and who wouldn’t agree? As an accounting/finance professional who has earned a CPA, you know more than most folks about money management, and you also know you need to keep earning CPE credits in order to maintain your CPA. If you’re a CISSP, continuing professional education is crucial to retain your certification as well. (And crucial to your organization’s continued security.)
CPE courses can be costly, though, especially as they add up over time. So it’s smart to look for free credit-earning opportunities whenever possible. Fortunately, whether you’re a CPA or a CISSP, veteran expert or newer to your profession, you have many education choices.
Where to find free CISSP CPE classes
- Varonis offers a wealth of options that meet the Group A (security-specific) requirements for different types of IT security certifications. Their Learn & Earn email series includes on-demand webinars, podcasts, and video tutorials. Their self-study lineup includes podcasts, live seminars, webinars, and online videos. You can also find topics that fall within Group B (relating to business operations other than IT security).
- (ISC)2 also offers a variety of free online and in-person CPE courses that cover topics pertinent to Group A and Group B.
Where to earn free CPA CPEs
- Naturally, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) offers a tremendous variety of self-study CPE classes, for those studying to become CPAs as well as those needing continuing education. There are more than 350 courses in all, some offered as live events, some as webcasts, and others as on-demand self-study. AICPA courses are not free, but you can access some of them at no cost by participating as a beta attendee. Look on the left side of their CPE page for the “Test New Self-Study Courses” link.
- Three of the CPE credit courses offered by the Corporate Finance Institute® (CFI) are free, including Introduction to Corporate Finance.
- Deloitte has a Continuing Professional Education program that includes their Dbriefs series of webcasts as well as a library of podcasts. Topics are divided into categories such as Special Editions, Financial Executives, HR Executives, Tax Executives, Industries, and Private Companies.
- Through their Thought Center, Ernst and Young offers live CPE webcasts for credit. (You’re welcome to access their archived podcasts and webcasts, but you cannot earn CPE credits for doing so.) Educational topics cover Service Lines (accounting, tax, and transactions), a wide range of specific industries, the Affordable Care Act, CFO agenda, emerging markets, and entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Paychex offers free CPE opportunities via live webinars and online, self-study courses through their Accountant Knowledge Center. Topics include ethics; planning, budgeting, and forecasting; corporate tax; sales and use taxes; real estate tax issues; and S-corp eligibility and election.
- Price Waterhouse Coopers has a Professional Development Program that includes resources you can use to earn free CPE credits. There are live Scheduled Public Seminars as well as Webcasts. Deloitte’s CFOdirect program offers more specialized webcasts and on-demand CPE programs, some of which are available for free.
- AccountingCred is an online resource that allows you to attend as many webinars as you want, on subjects relating to accounting, tax, and business operations. All the webinars are free, and you can earn up to 5 CPE credits per year.
- And then there’s CPE Think, which bills itself as “the last self-study CPE website you will ever need.” The site offers a catalog of more than 500 CPE courses, some of which are free.
- You can locate even more resources for free CPA CPE credits by visiting the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy website.
Be the teacher instead of the student
For CPA CPEs, you can also score free credits as an author, presenter, or speaker on topics pertinent to CPA function. That opens up new vistas, doesn’t it? There are some limitations on this, and the rules vary by state. But this could be an opportunity to build your own brand as a subject-matter expert and capture those all-important credits at the same time.
You can also earn free Group A CISSP CPE credits by sharing your knowledge via a white paper, magazine article, or a book.
Not everything in life is free
Many continuing ed courses have a fee, which makes sense when you consider the quality of the presenters, the importance of the topic, and other benefits. When you attend seminars, workshops and conferences in person, you can partake of invaluable networking -- with presenters and fellow attendees. Plus, you can ask all the questions you want and discuss key points in depth with the group.
That added value is well worth the cost, whether you’re paying out of your own pocket or your employer is reimbursing you for tuition and other costs.
With that in mind, we’d like to recommend our own Agile Operations Summit. Here at Lola.com, we’re all about helping organizations create agility within their corporate travel program. That’s why we’re offering a different kind of CPE course -- a day-long session for Finance and Operations folks, on November 6, in Boston. It’s perfect for CPAs and CISSPs looking for Group B credits.
There’s nothing stuffy or stodgy about us, so you can be sure this won’t be one of those tedious “how much longer do I have to sit here?” events. You’ll be treated to thought-provoking and inspiring presentations, a tasty lunch, and some light-hearted fun. Even better, you’ll earn six CPE credits.
The bottom line
Every time you earn free CPE credits, you’re saving money you can devote to those especially valuable for-cost opportunities that come up. (Like our Agile Operations Summit – you really don’t want to miss this one!)