Looking for the Best Online CPE for CPAs? Compare Your Course Options
With online CPE options, one of the most difficult aspects is deciding between the hundreds of providers and courses available. Members of the AICPA generally must find providers who are approved by NASBA. And this means inclusion on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. As of September 2021, this list has approximately 2,085 providers of continuing professional education options. And many of these also offer web-based options. So, in order to narrow down the options for best the CPE for CPAs, the main chart below lists several competitors. It also highlights the differences in what they have to offer. So, you can go into your CPE decision process with confidence, knowing you’ve found the right provider for your needs.
Why Get Your CPE Credits Online?
You might be wondering why online CPE courses are even worth checking out. After all, there are plenty of live, in-person events, conferences and meetings that offer CPE credit every year. But those conferences and events cost an exorbitant amount, beyond the actual cost of attendance. After all, many CPAs have to travel for those functions. Which means they must pay some type of transportation cost, find appropriate room and board, eat and so on. So, when a conference easily costs between $1,500 and $2,500, additional fees push the price of CPE to an outrageous amount. For the sake of comparison, the 2021 AICPA National Conference on Banks costs $1,725 and is worth 26.5 CPE credits. However, VTR Learning’s Financial and Managerial Accounting course is accredited for 28.5 CPEs and costs only $229. So, two credits more than the listed conference for approximately $1,500 less.
Beyond the monetary expense necessary to attend conferences and events, the cost in time is equally impacting. Many conferences now offer fully virtual attendance options. Especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic. And these opportunities are also useful for comparison. An event like the AICPA National Conference on Banks can easily eat up an entire weekend for on-site attendance. Especially if an attendee lives states away and must travel. However, online participation only takes the amount of actual conference time. So, virtual attendees might spend 20 hours earning 20 CPE credits. However, their in-person counterparts earn the equivalent number of credits for approximately 72 hours of time spent. When it comes down to it, online options for earning CPE are generally cheaper in both time and money.
Compare the Top Online CPE Course Providers
VTR Learning has served business professionals and educational institutions alike for over a decade, boasting a varied course catalog. The available course options include subjects such as Financial and Managerial Accounting, Human Resources Management and Leadership. And because the catalog includes courses of various lengths, CPAs never have to pay for credits they don’t need. VTR Learning’s CPE courses start at $29 and go up to $229 per selection. And each selection is worth between 1 and 28.5 CPE credits. Currently, CPAs who are interested in trying out one of VTR Learning’s courses can take a free course. And this can also be submitted for free CPE credit.
See VTR Learning’s courses here.
Becker is a subscription-based, online continuing professional education option with three tiers to choose from. The basic level is a $299, 90-day membership, which allows the user to attend webcasts with live Q&A sessions. It also provides access to on-demand courses. The second tier, which currently costs $399, is a 1-year access membership. It includes the basic tier perks as well as a state-specific ethics course and two 8-hour premium courses. The highest tier, priced at $454.35, adds a full year’s subscription to all premium content, courses and webinars.
See Becker’s course catalog here.
Lorman is an online provider of CPE for a multitude of professional organizations, including AICPA, SHRM, HRCI, APA and more. The course catalog boasts nearly 225 on-demand options for CPAs. But it also features live, online webinars for a wide range of CPE content. Lorman offers both a pay-as-you-go option for courses as well as a subscription plan. This annual pass allows unlimited access to the full course catalog for $699.
Lorman’s courses can be viewed here.
MasterCPE offers full access to their online CPE catalog, which includes hundreds of expert-led courses, for only $149 per year. However, each course can also be purchased individually for CPAs who need a small amount to complete their CPE requirements. A wide array of credit amounts and prices allows CPAs to customize their learning plan to fit their needs.
MasterCPE’s courses can be viewed here.
The AICPA itself offers various online course options for CPAs looking to recertify with the organization. Generally, several courses are offered at any given time for no charge. Though the vast majority of the content can be somewhat expensive for any significant amount of credit. For example, some courses cost up to $80 for a single CPE credit. However, the AICPA does offer a subscription option, called AICPA CPExpress, which costs between $315 and $525. This pass provides access to hundreds of shorter courses (1-2 CPEs).
AICPA’s courses can be found here.
CPEthink has over 660 online, on-demand courses in their catalog for CPAs. They also offer three free courses, each worth a single CPE credit. Like other popular CPE providers, each course can be purchased individually or as part of a subscription plan. The Unlimited CPE plan lasts for a year and includes full access to webinars, ethics courses, final exams and certificates. This pricing plan costs $199. However, it is also possible to purchase two-year access to the same material for $299. There are also four other tiers which last for a year. However, the maximum amount of credit obtainable within those plans is 45, 40, 30, and 20 CPEs respectively.
CPEthink’s catalog of courses is available here.
A subscription with Sequoia CPE costs $149 per year, giving CPAs access to an extensive list of online, on-demand courses. These options range from 1 to 24 CPE hours each. And while individual courses cannot be purchased apart from the subscription plan, an exception is made for state-specific ethics courses. These prices typically differ by location and subject matter.
Sequoia CPE courses are found here.
Illumeo offers a free individual or corporate level trial of their courses. However, no CPE can be claimed from these options. An all-access pass to a catalog of nearly 1,550 courses costs $299 per year. CPAs who only need a handful of CPE hours to complete their recertification requirements can also purchase courses individually.
Illumeo courses can be viewed here.
The Oklahoma Society of CPAs itself does not provide traditional online courses for CPE credit. Rather, it acts as a go-between for other organizations like Surgent and AICPA, offering various courses and webinar options. Since the OSCPA is not the primary provider, no subscription option is available through the organization. So, courses must be purchased individually. Here, the average price per credit is high, sitting around $24.84. However, the multitude of available options allows CPAs to find courses that fit their needs.
OSCPA’s catalog is able to be viewed here.
Find Out How Many CPE Credits are Required for Your State
Of course, knowing where to find options for online, on-demand CPE courses is pointless if one doesn’t know what their requirements are. And since each state is overseen by a local Board of Accountancy, no two locations have the same requirements. So, it is paramount for CPAs to understand what is expected of them for recertification approval. This blog can help anyone unfamiliar with their state’s requirements.
Get Started Today with Free CPE Courses
VTR Learning’s style of CPE is wholly unique. Because it centers around a narrative format where learners play the role of an intern for a fictional company. In effect, they learn by seeing business principles and practices play out in a realistic setting. And because we want everyone to experience this type of learning, we currently offer a free CPE course. For more information on how to find those courses, go here.
Article written by Braden Norwood