10 Tips for Maintaining a CPA License

  • Nov 8
10 Tips for Maintaining a CPA License

Without a doubt, obtaining a CPA license is no simple task. It takes time, money, training, persistence, and a host of patience. So, those who achieve this prestigious status naturally won’t want to lose it. Unfortunately, it almost seems that as much, if not more, work goes into maintaining a CPA license than earning it. After all, licensure represents the AICPA’s seal of approval, and the organization doesn’t bestow that reputation lightly.

Fortunately, there are many tips to help accounting professionals when it comes to maintaining a CPA license. In fact, far too many to adequately list here. Instead, we’ve picked out ten tips that are the simplest to employ. That way, CPAs looking to get a leg-up on license maintenance have a better chance.

Helpful Tactics that Make Maintaining a CPA License Easier

1. Understand the Importance of CPE

One of the surest ways to make a process difficult is failing to understand its importance. Continuing education for CPAs stands as no exception to that rule. So long as accountants lack clarity on how continuing education plays into their role as a licensed professional, the drive to accomplish it will falter.

As a business professional, it’s paramount to ensure that skills are always up to date with standards and best practices of the industry. Because if not, then individual practitioners easily fall short of providing the best services. Naturally, since the AICPA has every intention of licensing only reputable individuals, continuing education is paramount. Thus, CPE stands as one of the core responsibilities of all licensed CPAs. Otherwise, there would be no method for ensuring members offer quality services to clients.

In short, continuing education is the vessel for delivering top-tier results, and moreover, for ensuring CPAs don’t fall behind in their skills. And if anyone lacks the will to make this happen, it’s a sure sign that maintaining a CPA license isn’t right for them. Understanding both the reason and the benefits of continued learning is a great place to begin.

2. Know Your State’s Renewal Requirements

Of course, simply knowing why continuing education is necessary doesn’t help explain what is necessary. And because each state typically carries different requirements for license renewal and continuing education, licensees need to stay aware. Sometimes, requirements differ only slightly between locations. But others actually differ greatly. For example, one state might require license renewal once every year where others only do every three. So, if an individual failed to know their licensing state’s requirements, they could easily lapse and fail to renew it.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a helpful resource to let CPAs know what the primary state license renewal requirements. But because license requirements might change, it’s always helpful to go back to the source and confirm with individual state boards of accountancy.

3. Know How to Find Great Providers

The NASBA Registry of CPE Sponsors lists over 2,000 different providers. And in a group that large, it’s impossible for some not to be better than others. However, determining which CPE provider to go with is sometimes critical for maintaining a CPA license. So, when choosing where to go for your CPE credit, look for these five things:

  • NASBA should approve the sponsor.
  • The provider’s activities should line up with the state requirements and limitations.
  • The provider should have fair and affordable pricing.
  • The material should meet your learning needs.
  • The sponsor should have a helpful support system in case issues arise.

If these five things are answered affirmatively, then chances are you’ve found a decent CPE provider.

4. Know Which CPE Activities Work Best for You

Most states allow for a wide range of different CPE activities. For example, some individuals can earn credit by writing educational material or even books. Others can do so through accredited college classes, and still others might teach. However, one of the most popular forms of CPE is online courses. Often, they’re simple to discover, they come at a decent price, and allow professionals to accomplish goals from the comfort of home.

But not all people learn the same way – that is, different learning styles tailor to different methods. So, what one person finds helpful might not appeal to another. Part of maintaining a CPA license is recognizing what CPE methods work best and then pursuing those. After all, if someone loathes the activity they choose, they’re not as likely to gain anything beneficial from it.

5. Create a Recertification Plan and Schedule

One benefit of the meticulous requirements for license renewal is knowing exactly when you are required to do so. That way, it’s possible to plan and schedule ahead to keep from getting behind. In fact, some states almost force licensees to do so by requiring them to obtain a certain number of CPEs every year. Of course, that doesn’t entirely prevent procrastination. Because individuals can still simply wait until the end of the year and then scramble to get their credits.

But there lies the crux of the matter. Scrambling at the end of the recertification period isn’t helpful for maintaining a CPA license. It provides undue stress and anxiety. Instead, one tip is to create a recertification plan and schedule. Especially if you already know the types of activities you want to complete and the providers offering them. A plan can include price, timeline, and a host of other factors to help keep you on track. That way, when the time for license renewal comes, you aren’t fretting over how many credits you still have left to complete.

6. Know How to Recertify

Once upon a time, license renewal might have been handled through mailed forms or in-person meetings. But now, most of the process can be handled online. However, since the process is specific to a state board of accountancy, the exact location of the recertification portal differs. Thus, it’s important for CPAs to recognize the correct places to turn in their recertification forms as well as the associated fees.

We’ve put together another helpful resource that can direct individuals to the correct sites for their license renewal portals. And although this is only a small part of the overall process for maintaining a CPA license, it’s obviously a vital one.

7. Keep the Code of Professional Conduct in Mind

One of the fastest ways for a CPA to have their license suspended is by breaking the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct. In the same way continuing education helps ensure quality service, the Code fortifies professional services. It dictates how CPAs are to go about their work, both in relation to their tasks and the organizations employing them.

Of course, there are too many facets to the Code of Professional Conduct to go into here. But there are six main principles worth mentioning:

  • Responsibilities
  • Public Interest
  • Integrity
  • Objectivity and Independence
  • Due Care
  • Scope and Nature of Services

All members of the AICPA are to hold to these tenets and uphold them in their daily activities. And because they’re so integral to the profession, individuals hoping to maintain a CPA license must always keep them at the forefront of everything they do.

8. Connect With Other Professionals

Undoubtedly, maintaining a CPA license isn’t a solitary enterprise. In other words, it takes multiple people. The continuing education process is the perfect example, because it takes two for education to happen. One to teach and the other to learn. But beyond that, professional networking is a great way for individual CPAs to encourage one another and find great opportunities.

For example, if you’re looking for a learning activity that covers all of your needs but don’t know where to look, you could always ask another professional. Chances are, they’ve been in your shoes and know the perfect option. Of course, that’s just one trite example of how professional networking can help in the maintenance process. But the point expands to encompass a wide variety of situations. In short, connecting with other professionals can open doors that make maintaining a CPA license simpler.

9. Get Involved with State Associations and Societies

Hand-in-hand with professional networking is involvement in a state association or CPA society. Almost every state and territory hosts at least one such body, and they’re the perfect way to expand a network. Often, they offer opportunities for continuing education activities. However, they serve a much larger purpose than that alone. The OSCPA, for example, embodies three primary roles:

  • Provide various membership benefits to help CPAs advance in their careers
  • Design, host, and facilitate various educational opportunities for both private and public functions
  • Sponsor events that help encourage networking between CPA members

Naturally, the exact role of each society might change from one group to another. However, the basic principle is similar – they are a great place to get started with networking. And furthermore, they provide a robust community to help encourage license maintenance and offer advice for different professional needs.

10. Stay On Top of Things

Perhaps the simplest, and most maddening advice – stay on top of responsibilities. In other words, don’t procrastinate when it comes to maintaining a CPA license. Jump in as quickly as possible to preempt the inevitable slow-down. Whenever you have the will and energy to complete continuing education, get it done. Otherwise, everything might pile up until the end of the licensing period, and then it becomes even more difficult to accomplish.

Of course, this tip is entirely up to the self-motivation of the individual. No one can force any other person to take care of their CPE activities early. At least, not in any real way. Staying on top of things has to come from a place of self-discipline and internal drive. Even if it’s only to keep from having to do something later down the road. Regardless the reason, those who jump into their tasks will find they’re less stressed and anxious about keeping up when other things become busy. So, it might be simple, but it’s worth it.

Maintaining a CPA License with VTR Learning

We’ve talked quite a bit about continuing education throughout these tips, enough to make the point that it’s important. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a great place to start, VTR Learning can help. We have a host of online courses accredited through NASBA for CPE Credit. And to help meet the different learning needs, they come in a variety of styles. For example, some revolve around business simulation, others are constituted primarily of videos, and there are even eBooks. If you don’t want to put off obtaining CPEs until it’s too late, be sure to check out our full catalog of CPA courses.

Article written by Braden Norwood

Last updated March 12, 2023