As a CPA, state boards require you to earn around eighty CPE hours per two year period (or 40 per year. On top of that, membership in the AICPA also relies on CPE. That can be stressful and you might not be sure how to get that many. Hence, above all else, you need to know just one thing:
What courses are the best at providing CPE for CPAs?
Below I’ve created a list of the top online continuing education courses for any CPAs. It’s my hope that the information below will help you choose a course that’s perfect for your needs. After trying countless courses, I can confidently say that these five are the best continuing professional education courses on offer.
Needless to say, all of the courses mentioned are NASBA approved. Check it out:
Top CPE Study Materials of 2020
- Becker CPE
- Illumeo CPE Review
- Lambers CPE
- Lorman CPE
- Surgent CPE Review
- Gleim CPE Exam Prep
- FastForward Academy CPE
#1 Becker CPE Course Online
Becker offers a great flexible pricing plan based on what you want access to and for how long. Subscriptions are offered for webcasts, on demand content, and both. These are further diversified by choosing to pay for access for one to three years. Ultimately, this means that anyone with that access could earn unlimited CPE credit.
In addition to the rest of their content, Becker also offers access to several live webinars and accountancy conferences for CPE. Unlike their competitors, they’re not interested solely in work you can complete at home. Instead, they want you to have as many options as possible for earning your CPE credits.
Flexible Study Format:
Becker has spent a great deal of time creating a modular study system that can be tailored to your needs. On-demand self study courses are designed to be worked on during your free time, while webcasts can be watched at your leisure. Basically, the entire system is designed to maximize accessibility to all of Becker’s customers while they meet their CPE requirements.
Despite its great pricing, Becker unfortunately doesn’t accept refunds past the first day of purchase. This isn’t much of a deal breaker, since Becker more than makes up for this in the quality of its materials and unlimited CPE hours. You shouldn’t need a refund when working with them.
Bottom Line: Becker is a strong competitor when it comes to CPE courses. This is largely due to their focus on accessibility when furthering your professional education. Thanks to both flexible prices and content, it’s hard to say no to this service.
#2 Illumeo CPE for CPA’s
Illumeo offers an incredible range of continuing education resources that cover many different certifications and areas of study. They’re always adding new courses, but they also replace older study materials that don’t maintain high ratings from students. This ensures a consistent stream of high-quality and up-to-date content for all subscribers.
In addition to offering a wide variety of educational materials, Illumeo even provides full certifications for some specialized industries and areas of knowledge. These “microcerts’ can be accessed for a small additional cost and can greatly improve your chances of gaining employment in specialized or competitive fields.
Illumeo is passionate about continuing education and confident in the quality of their CPE content. Because of this, they offer students interested in trying their materials the opportunity to do so for free on a trial basis. Check out their Free CPE section to try 12 webinars at no cost as a comprehensive sample of what their full service has to offer.
Although Illumeo’s strongest benefit is the incredible versatility offered by their course catalog, it can be detrimental if you’re interested in a more specialized education. The 231 results for CPA-specific courses are only a small fraction of what they have to offer; because of this, you may find the wide range of ‘extra credit’ provided to be unnecessary or distracting to your studies.
Bottom Line: If you plan on only studying CPE through Illumeo, you can become a jack of all trades. But if you’re looking to only be knowledgeable in CPA methodology, you may still need to supplement your education with other options.
#3 Lambers CPE Study Material
Lambers instructors are easily some of the best and most qualified teachers out there. This is because each teacher has a knack for bringing in their practical experience to the classroom. Also, each instructor holds a professional certification; some even have doctoral degrees in their field of study. With these teachers on your side, there’s no way you can fail!
Self Study Courses:
Lambers’ wide selection of self study courses are designed to cover any field of study you’re interested in. They understand that as a CPA you’ll have different needs when it comes to sharpening your professional skills. Above all else, Lambert recognizes that it’s important for you to have access to the courses of your choosing: not just what someone thinks you need.
The catalog of CPE courses on offer by Lambers is constantly growing. Each month new content is updated and added to the course so that you will always have the best materials on offer. Thanks to that, you’ll never have to worry about working with outdated information.
Although there are plenty of appealing features for accounting professionals (and professionals from a few other fields) looking for CPE credits, it can be a bit concerning when comparing their course guarantee to other options on the market. Essentially all sales are final for digital products, and Lambers will often require you to pay restocking fees on returned physical products.
Bottom Line: Lambers is perfect for anyone looking to set their own pace while working on earning CPE credits. It may not be as competitive as Surgent or Gleim, but it carves out a niche by offering a more relaxed alternative to working on credits. Consider Lambers if you’ve got plenty of time to earn your credits.
#4 Lorman CPE Review
3 Decades of Excellence:
Lorman has been in business offering continuing education for accounting professionals over 33 years now— something that can’t be said for many other providers on the market. What this means is that Lorman has proven to be a viable service for professionals in a highly competitive market entirely through the strength of its curriculum, platform, and pricing.
Whether you’re at square one and need to complete all your necessary CPE credits to maintain your credential, or you’ve already done some prep work and only need a few more credit hours, Lorman has a package that’s ideal for your specific needs. You can pay the bare minimum for individual courses or get unlimited access for an entire year in their All-Access Pass bundle.
In addition to offering a wide variety of continuing education materials, Lorman allows enrolled students to access these materials on a wide variety of smart devices. Furthermore, their State Specific Credit Tracker included in the All-Access Pass helps you keep track of your state-specific CPE goals, making this one of the most convenient platforms currently available.
All or Nothing:
As previously mentioned, the flexible pricing model for Lorman is most beneficial to students with no completed CPE or most of their educational credits already finished. That’s because they have an all-or-nothing approach to pricing— either you pay for one course at a time, or pay a premium for unlimited courses. This means that students who are somewhere in the middle of their CPE requirement will end up paying the most, since there are no smaller bundle offers other than the 1-year pass.
Bottom Line: Lorman has a terrific platform for professional accountants to gain the educational credits needed to continue working at their fullest potential. And while they can’t do much to help you with the price if you’re already some of the way there, they’re a terrific one-stop-shop thanks to their All-Access Pass!
#5 Surgent CPE for CPA’s
Surgent’s biggest claim to fame is that they have over 10,000 unique online CPE credit hours on offer. All of their content is extremely detailed and well taught. Basically, anything you could possibly need to know about accountancy, Surgent has in abundance!
Every year Surgent presents two thousand different seminars for CPE. Basically, these cover over a hundred different topics and are presented in almost every US state. Additionally, all speakers are incredibly qualified and give seminars in conjunction with state CPA societies.
On top of their regular content, Surgent also offers a set of premium online courses. These courses are designed to cover specialized topics or newly passed laws. Even better, they’re included with the Unlimited Plus package option.
CPE for Firms:
One of the biggest differences between Surgent and their competitors is in how they work with accounting firms. They do so by tailoring CPE pricing and content options to each firm. Consequently, firms can get group discounts or even unlimited access to Surgent’s online courses based on their professional needs.
A big downside to Surgent is just how much it costs. Lower priced packages don’t come with all of the features previously mentioned, and instead limit you to live webinars. However, it is still well worth the high price point due to the high quality of the materials included.
Bottom Line: Surgent is by far the top choice for anyone looking for CPE credits. Their extremely detailed catalog combined with their seminars and advanced instruction make this the best course on the market. Be sure to check out Surgent’s CPE packages for the best value!
#6 Best Overall CPE Course
Pick and Choose Materials:
Because Gleim purchases are based around how many hours you buy, there’s a great deal of customization to be found. To accomplish this they offer over thirty five different courses of relevant professional information.
Gleim offers several different types of free materials to get you interested. Not only are there two free trial courses, there is also the Pilot Test program. Active CPAs can apply to test out new CPE courses for Gleim and earn free CPE credit for doing so. Now that is a great deal.
Consumer Friendly Pricing:
All Gleim prices are based on how many hours you’re purchasing. Although it starts at twelve dollars per hour, larger bundles bring that individual price down. Additionally, if you play your cards right you can even buy courses for six dollars an hour!
AFSP Course Not Included:
If you’re not exempt from Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) requirements, you’ll have to pay extra for that course. Although it’s disappointing that this costs more on top of your previous purchases, it’s still worth your money for the same quality reasons as the rest of the material.
Bottom Line: Gleim is easily one of the top continuing education courses. Their customization and price policy encourage you to structure your studying according to your own personal method. On top of that, there’s plenty of free material to sink your teeth into before deciding on a purchase.
#7 Fast Forward Academy CPE
Fast Forward Academy (FFA) provides a wide range of courses for you to work on. Included in their 45+ courses are topics ranging from ethical issues on tax returns to retirement plans in small businesses. Everything you could possibly need to know is covered here; Therefore, there’s no need to worry about whether or not your type of work is represented here.
Additional AFSP Course:
Although certain positions may be exempt from the AFSP Course, FFA wants to be sure that everyone’s professional needs are taken care of. Because of this, they offer an eighteen hour AFSP course so you can meet your prerequisites. With Fast Forward Academy, everything is taken care of.
After completing each course, FFA will report your online CPE credits to the IRS or CTEC (California Tax Education Council) for you. They’ll even do so for free, meaning you don’t have to worry about any hidden costs. On top of that you will also receive a PDF copy of your course completion certificate upon completion.
No Live Content:
Unlike Surgent and Becker, FFA does not offer any live content. Instead, they’ve chosen to focus on their various video and text courses as an alternative. While these courses are clearly high quality, it’s still a little disappointing not to see any webinars or conferences.
Bottom Line: Fast Forward Academy is a great compact option for anyone looking to complete their CPEs. This is because they’ve made a point of compartmentalizing and focused on the necessities. With FFA, you’ll finish up your CPE requirements with time to spare.
Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. As Seen On Forbes