Skip to main content

From Have-to-Do to Glad-I-Did: Maximizing the Value of Your CPE Credits for Lifelong Learning

November 06, 2023

by Monette Anderson, CAE

Every day, as 5 o'clock rolled around, I would glance out of my office window and see the freeway traffic piling up. The sea of brake lights always filled me with dread. I'd often find excuses to delay my departure—perhaps answering a few more emails or organizing my desk. That changed when my husband gave me an Audible subscription. Suddenly, my commute transformed from a dreaded chore into cherished "me time." Traffic was still there, but my perspective had shifted dramatically.

As we find ourselves in CPE crunch season, this scenario might feel relatable. Many CPAs are scrambling to fulfill their educational requirements, feeling the same sense of dread I used to associate with my commute. But what if we could shift our perspective? By reframing how we view CPE, we can unlock its true potential for lifelong learning and career growth. Here are some strategies to make your CPE journey more rewarding.

Select Courses Strategically

Navigating the WSCPA catalog is not just about staying compliant or meeting requirements—it's about charting your professional development journey. With our searchable catalog, you can find courses that not only align with your career goals but also provide you with a balanced skill set that makes you indispensable in today's rapidly changing business environment.

Before you dive into the catalog, take a moment to formulate a strategy. Consider these four key areas to focus on:

  • Update in Current Practice Area: Staying updated in your existing specialization ensures you maintain a competitive edge.
  • Explore a New Practice Area: Don't hesitate to venture out into emerging sectors or diversify your skills, as it adds more arrows to your quiver.
  • Hot Topics: Keep an eye out for courses on trending issues in the industry. This will not only keep you informed but also make you more valuable to your organization.
  • Soft Skills: Never underestimate the power of leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence in your professional toolbox.

Once you've outlined your plan, use the handy tabs in our catalog to filter between Online CPE, In-Person Events, Special Events, and On-Demand options. This makes it easier to navigate to the courses that specifically align with your newly minted professional development plan.

And don't forget, for the most up-to-date industry trends and key "pop-up" CPE sessions, your WSCPA Present Value newsletter has you covered.

Actively Engage During CPE Courses

Being physically present and clicking through audience verification surveys can earn you the needed CPE credits, but active engagement enhances your retention of the subject matter and helps you make the best of your time and investment. Avoid drifting off to your email or other distractions by engaging in activities like knitting, note-taking, or even walking on a pad while you listen. Joining in on chat discussions and asking questions can further enrich your experience.

Use CPE as a Team-Building Exercise

CPE doesn't have to be a solo endeavor. Attending courses or conferences as a team can multiply the benefits. Team members can "divide and conquer," partaking in different sessions and later sharing their insights. This collective approach not only fortifies team cohesion but also enriches everyone's knowledge base.

Have multiple staff signing up for an online session? Instead of watching individually, you can organize an office watch party. Reach out to our team, we’re happy to walk you through how to organize this and can provide you with the sign-in process to ensure your team remains compliant with education and that everyone receives their individual education credits.
You can also reach out to us about In-House CPE opportunities for your team.

Blend Learning & Networking at Conferences

Networking at conferences offers a unique advantage. I remember welcoming people at one of our recent WSCPA conferences. Almost immediately, a member spotted another member they knew to be an expert in a specific area. Without missing a beat, they sat down opposite them and began discussing a pressing tax issue. It was a vivid reminder of the transformative power of networking that conferences offer.

Our WSCPA fall conferences are particularly robust, providing a perfect blend of educational rigor and networking opportunities. The knowledge-sharing that occurs in these settings is often transformative, offering real-time problem-solving and fostering collaborations that extend well beyond the event itself. Come and join us and reconnect with colleagues and meet new faces. Just as an Audible subscription turned my dreaded commutes into enriching journeys, the right approach to CPE can turn a mandatory task into a career game-changer. This CPE crunch season let's pivot our perspective and see the road ahead as an opportunity, not a chore. Trust me, your career will thank you.

Monette Anderson, CAE, is WSCPA Vice President of Membership and Education and Executive Director of the Washington CPA Foundation. You can contact Monette via email.