Mandatory continuing professional education: Acceptance by certified public accountants in private industry

Anne Carpenter Kenner, Louisiana Tech University


The research problem was a study of the attitudes of certified public accountants (CPAs) working in private industry toward continuing professional education (CPE) and the factors that contribute to these attitudes. To gather data for the study, a questionnaire was mailed to twelve hundred CPAs working full-time in private industry. The questionnaire consisted of thirty statements regarding continuing professional education.

Through the study, three specific questions were answered: (1) Do CPAs in private industry support mandatory continuing education regulations for all CPAs? (2) Are CPAs in private industry satisfied with the quantity and quality of CPE courses available to them through the AICPA and other course providers? (3) Do CPAs in private industry favor other licensing laws that, together with CPE regulations, protect and limit the use of the title "CPA"?

The study results showed that while the majority of CPAs working in private industry support mandatory CPE requirements and believe continuing education enhances the competence and credibility of CPAs, CPAs working in private industry do not agree on the licensing laws and regulations that govern the use of the CPA title. The results also showed that over one-half of the CPAs working in private industry think CPAs should not be required to take CPE courses in order to retain the CPA title.

In addition, the findings revealed that CPAs working in private industry are not satisfied with the quality of CPE courses available to them. Many CPAs feel that interesting and work-related course offerings are hard to find. Almost one-half of the respondents answered that they would take more continuing education courses if more courses of interest were available to them.

In conclusion, the study found that CPAs in private industry are a diverse group who do not share a unified view of the role of continuing education for certified public accountants. While most CPAs in the study recognize the value of continuing education and support CPE for CPAs working full-time in public practice, many are still reluctant to agree that continuing education should be required for all certified public accountants--including those working in areas other than public accounting.