Here’s a friendly reminder: Acquiring the CPE credits you need to maintain your CPA license doesn’t have to be a struggle. It also doesn’t have to be expensive.
You already have a list of reputable public accounting firms that offer free CPE-eligible webcasts.
There’s even a calendar of free CPE webinars, where you’ll often find multiple live webinars being offered on a daily basis.
But what if you just don’t have the time to sit through a live webinar in the middle of a workday?
You may want to consider taking some self-study CPE courses instead.
What is Self-Study CPE?
Self-study CPE is an accommodating option for busy CPAs who need flexibility in fulfilling their CPE requirements.
While live webinars require you to be available at a scheduled time and day, self-study courses can be taken whenever you want, wherever you want.
They can also be accessed at your own pace.
If you don’t have enough time to complete the course, you can pause it as needed, then pick it up again where you left off. If you’re a fast learner, you can even choose to go through the material at a quicker pace.
Keep in mind you do need some self-discipline to follow through with the course.
That’s because you’re not required to complete it in a single sitting like with live webinars. And with no one monitoring your progress, you want to make sure you actually complete the course and take the exam to earn your CPE hours.
For those of you interested in taking some self-study CPE courses, consider these free options below.
Whether you’re looking to brush up on your tax knowledge, learn about the hot new topic of blockchain technology, or something in between, one of these self-study courses has got you covered.
1. Become an Excel Power User with CFI’s Excel Crash Course
Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) provides online financial modeling and valuation courses with a mission to “help anyone become a world-class financial analyst.”
With CFI’s Excel Crash Course – Spreadsheet Formulas for Finance, you’ll learn all the shortcuts, functions and formulas you need to become an Excel power user.
While the course is designed with financial analysis and financial modeling professionals in mind, it covers both basic and advanced functions that are helpful for any Excel user.
The first half of the course focuses on the basics and is intended to strengthen your foundation in Excel. For beginning spreadsheet users, this will be a good introduction to Excel. For advanced users, it’ll serve as a good refresher.
The course then progresses into more sophisticated Excel functions and formulas. This latter half of the course is geared toward finance-specific formulas that are helpful in financial analysis and modeling.
This course lasts about 3.5 hours and offers 3 CPE credits.
2. Review ASC 606 with CPE247.com’s Revenue Recognition Course
CPE247.com provides quality self-study CPE courses, often featuring nationally recognized authors and seminar speakers.
You’re allowed up to 10 free CPE credits when you sign up for their platform. Registration is free, but you’ll be required to provide your CPA license information, including your license number.
In CPE247.com’s Revenue Recognition: The New Guidelines (you’ll need to register with this link for free promotional CPE to access this course), you’ll learn about the relatively new revenue standard known as ASC 606.
This course will teach you the basics of the new guidance, including the five-step revenue recognition model.
Take full advantage of the course and use it as an opportunity to reassess your organization’s revenue accounting processes. You may find that you need to implement changes to maintain compliance with ASC 606.
As a result of this course, you’ll gain “a working knowledge of the fundamentals of revenue standard that can be applied, regardless of the company size, in the real world.”
This course offers 5 CPE credits in the field of accounting.
3. Build Your Presence with Paychex’s Mastering the Six Traits of Executive You
Paychex provides human capital management solutions for payroll, benefits, human resources and insurance services.
We already talked about the Paychex Accountant Knowledge Center and their free ethics CPE resources, but they also have plenty of other CPE options you may be interested in.
Once you sign up for their knowledge center, you’ll have access to 5 free courses per year, most of which are eligible for multiple CPE credits. (You’ll want to check out the free ethics CPE blog post for instructions on how to register for access to their free content.)
For those of you on the executive track, consider taking Paychex’s Mastering the Six Traits of Executive You self-study course.
You’ll learn how to elevate your executive presence by gaining confidence, building relationships, improving communication skills, becoming a credible leader, and strengthening your personal brand.
The importance of soft skills is sometimes overlooked, but this course aims to teach you how to build your presence so your voice is heard at the executive boardroom table.
This course offers 5 CPE credits in the field of personnel/human resources.
4. Learn the Basics of Taxes with Gleim’s Lessons for the Tax Preparer
Gleim, a company that develops accounting study and reference materials, is known for their CPA exam review resources. But don’t discount their catalog of CPE self-study content, where they offer up to 4 hours of free CPE.
Upon completion of Gleim’s Lessons for the Tax Preparer, you’ll be able to identify and answer questions about tax issues and scams.
You’ll receive an overview of various tax issues, as well as the liability and penalties associated with them. In addition you’ll examine topics such as tax evasion, tax preparer misconduct, and tax planning.
To conclude the course, you’ll explore common tax scams, including phishing scams and refund theft.
This is a truly self-paced program with no video lessons. The entire course consists of relatively quick reading material and related quiz questions that test your learning before the final assessment.
The course offers 3 CPE credits in the field of taxes.
5. Dive into the World of Blockchain with Canopy’s Blockchain Applications for Accounting, Audit & Tax
Canopy provides practice management software for accounting firms. It’s an all-in-one platform that features project management, document management, customer relationship management, and billing and payment solutions for a seamless client experience.
They also offer a comprehensive list of free webinars and self-study courses once you create an account on their platform.
Consider taking Canopy’s Blockchain Applications for Accounting, Audit, & Tax (you’ll need to log in to access this course) to learn about blockchain technology and what it means for finance and accounting professionals.
The course begins with a basic overview of blockchain technology, including introductions to blockchain networks like Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum.
It then dives into how this technology impacts different areas of accounting by focusing on reconciliations, audits, taxes and financial reporting.
This course offers 1 CPE credit in the field of auditing.
Additional Self-Study Options
While these 5 courses cover a variety of helpful topics, browse through their CPE self-study catalogs to see the other courses they offer. You may find another option that interests you.
The Paychex and Canopy CPE catalogs, in particular, offer an impressive list of self-study content on interesting topics.
And if you still need CPE hours, check out our list of 6 more free self-study courses you can take for credit.
If you have other resources you rely on for self-study CPE, share them in the comments below so your fellow CPAs can access them too.