Do you want to go further in your career but don’t necessarily want to head to college for a degree? Maybe you want to show that you’re an expert in your field and a degree isn’t necessary, but additional education is required. Or maybe the opportunity for a higher salary is right within your reach, but some specialized training is crucial for a raise. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a candidate for CPE credits in your chosen field.

What Does CPE Mean?

CPE stands for continuing professional education, which, in short, allows the person who participates in continued professional education to be a lifelong learner, and someone who cares a great deal about keeping abreast in changes in their field. Additionally, in some careers, continuing professional education is a requirement for some people who want to practice in their field.

What Are CPE Credits?

CPE credits can be earned by participating in training workshops, conferences, in-person and online classes and webinars that are approved by the state and professional organizations pertaining to the education being received. Before beginning any CPE training, it’s important to research the organization that will be providing the credits and make sure that those credits can count toward your required professional education as standards are strict as to what does and does not count.

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It’s also important to note that there is a financial commitment you will need to make in order to earn CPE credits. The good news is your employer may consider additional education that is important for your professional development as an employee benefit. If it is an employee benefit, you may be lucky, and your employer will pay for you to participate in CPE training. Your employer may pay the entire cost or pay a portion, leaving you to pay for the rest. If not, you’ll need to pay out of your own pocket to obtain the CPE credits.

The type of training provided and how it’s administered will determine the amount of credits one can earn. For instance, depending on the information – a professional needing to earn so many credits in a month – might find the most efficient way to do so would be to attend a CPE approved conference.

Attendance at all the workshops for two days could be worth six credits. If attending a conference proves difficult for other professionals, perhaps participating in a webinar once a month for an hour and earning one credit might be what works best. It’s truly simply a matter of preference and what works best for that individual.

What Is a CPE Course?

If you’re in a career that is emerging or even interested in a field of work that is offering more opportunities, participating in a CPE course could be right for you. A CPE course allows students to engage in education that is new due to regional or global factors that are driving more interest in the field. A CPE course can provide fresh material and insight as well as feedback and direction from industry leaders.

Participating in a CPE course will allow the student to take a range of classes dedicated to the specific field they’re interested in or currently in, meet other students and possibly career contacts that will help them move forward. More importantly, for the dedication to the course and continuing with professional education you could be awarded a certain number of CPE credits or a certificate that shows you have completed all the requirements.

Before signing up for a class or an entire CPE course of study, it’s important to make sure that your need for taking the course or courses will be met. It’s also important to research how much time will be required of you. Some CPE courses require that a student be available on weeknights or weekends. Other courses may require a student to be available for eight hours once a week during a work day for months. If this is the case, it’s important to speak with one’s manager or human resources department before signing up for the course to make sure the schedules as well as the employer will allow you to participate.

Additionally, participating in a CPE course may prove to be very beneficial to your employer, and they may consider your professional development training an employee benefit. If that’s the case, they may pay for the entire CPE course, or they may pay a portion. Whichever the case, it’s important to learn more. Should you be responsible for paying for the entire course on your own, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to a tax attorney or your tax professional. You might be able to write off the cost of your education during tax time. CPE courses can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

What Is the CPE Certification?

Each year, to stay current within your field with the CPE credits that have been earned, it might also be necessary for you to obtain a CPE certification. CPE certification can be required to show that an individual has taken all the correct steps necessary to obtain the correct amount of CPE credits they have to earn each year. Depending on the career field, such as accounting or teaching, the CPE accounting credits would need to be tallied and made sure that the correct credits were obtained. This information would then need to be reported to their required organization that keeps track for the specific field.

When all the requirements have been met, a certification will be awarded for the individual to use. They would then share with their current employer or use it to show their knowledge and passion for continuing education for a prospective employer. Additionally, depending upon the field where the CPE certification is earned, it would be impressive for clients to know that the individual they are receiving guidance from has the most up-to-date information and data in their field.

It should come as no surprise that any additional training that will help someone advance in their career or to enter into a new field will be time-consuming and perhaps in some cases even cost-prohibitive. But knowing the difference it will make in one’s career and future can certainly be worth the reward.

Earning CPE credits and or participating in additional CPE courses not only presents one as a life-long learner but also shows someone you're serious about the career. With enough focus, research and dedication, earning CPE credits can be done in no time and will make a difference. Becoming CPE certified can lead to new growth opportunities and the ability to be an expert in one’s field.

In today’s difficult job market, any additional education particularly in a certain field, can make an individual with CPE certification or experience in obtaining CPE credits more valuable during the hiring process. It can also make the difference for a hiring and firing manager to make sure an individual receives a promotion or the ability to stay in a role when positions are being eliminated. Continuing professional education will always keep you current and at the forefront in changes in your chosen field.

About the Author

As a communications professional in the greater Philadelphia region, Jerisha enjoys writing informative advancement communications pieces for philanthropic organizations. When not writing, Jerisha is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University where she guides full-time students and full-time working adults through the writing process. Jerisha holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and enjoys writing education articles and essays.