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Make the Most of Your Professional Development

CPA career development

Lifelong learning is critical to an accounting career. Forty hours per year may not be adequate to keep you abreast of all the changes in the standard setting landscape or provide enough information to fully understand the impact of pending tax legislation—but continuing education can be an integral part of that process.

Continuing professional development enables you to build upon your knowledge and further develop skills in areas related to your professional practice. Over the course of a 40-year career, continuing professional development can make a huge difference in your skill set...if it is the right kind of education.

But many CPAs do not take full advantage of this opportunity. While commercial education programs have grown in response to our need to earn CPE credits, many of these sources offer general education courses that are light on subject matter. Further, CPAs and CPA firms have been known to measure the value of their training by calculating the cost per CPE credit.

We all want the greatest value for our training dollars, so let’s carefully consider where that value comes from and ensure we make our investment count. Continuing education opportunities in ethics, management, and similar topics can apply to all accounting professionals. For CPE credits related to your practice area, focus on topics where growing your knowledge base will truly advance your career.

The best way to ensure that you are making the most of continuing education is through professional development planning, an often-overlooked and under-practiced activity. Ask a mentor to help you think of topic areas that would expand your capabilities; then look for high-quality opportunities in those topic areas over time. A conscious and focused effort in planning your long-term continuing education will go a long way in furthering your career-long professional growth. And that growth is critical to professional success.

Do you have a current professional development plan in place or are you typically rushing to earn CPE credits before your license renewal deadline? 

Michael Ramos, Director of CPE and Training, American Institute of CPAs. Mike sets the strategic direction and manages operations of the professional development business unit at the AICPA. He combines his understanding of technical audit and accounting issues with his communication skills and experience to advance AICPA CPE offerings. He is the author of many books and training courses on SOX 404, internal control and other auditing matters.


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