6 Smart Ways to Step Up Your Accounting Professional Development

If you've been putting professional development on the back burner, it's time to start putting yourself first.

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Are you an accountant or bookkeeper looking for ways to take your career to the next level?

Professional development is essential in any field, but especially in accounting, where technology, regulations, and best practices continuously change. If you’ve been putting professional development on the back burner, it’s time to start putting yourself first.

It can be tough to find the time to stay on top of new developments and expand your skill set. To help, below are some tips and resources to help you keep your skills fresh, earn continuing professional education credits (CPE credits), and become an even more successful accounting professional.

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    Development Opportunities for Accounting Professionals

    Do you struggle to find time in your calendar to attend conferences? Do you find webinars dull? Does networking take effort that’s hard to muster outside your day-to-day?

    Today, there are more options than ever for professional development—many of them virtual, so you can protect your valuable time. Review the list below to find one or two that fit your learning style, timeline, and budget.

    1. Industry Publications

    Reading accounting publications is an invaluable way to stay informed of the latest industry trends and developments. Publications provide insights and analysis into current events, as well as detailed coverage of new regulations and laws to help you stay compliant.

    Many of these publications also provide useful advice and tips on how to manage clients, grow your business, and stay ahead of the competition.

    Accounting Publication Options

    Here are some to consider subscribing to:

    • Accounting Today 🇺🇸: Information for public accountants and tax professionals
    • CPA Practice Advisor 🇺🇸: News and industry trends, with a focus on technology and practice management
    • Going Concern 🇺🇸: Accounting industry news, career advice, and job listings
    • Strategic Finance Magazine 🇺🇸: Trends in finance and accounting, from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
    • Canadian Accountant 🇨🇦: Leading industry publication for Canadian accounting professionals
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    Online Courses

    Online learning platforms offer many self-study courses on the latest technology, business best practices, and soft skills to promote personal and professional growth.

    There are hundreds of learning opportunities and certification programs available online. Some are traditional, remote-learning courses. They have fixed dates and class times, and limited participants.

    Others are what’s known as MOOCs: Massive open online courses. These courses are often pre-recorded and self-directed, so you can learn at your own pace, whenever and wherever is most convenient for you.

    Online Learning Platform Options

    Here are some popular MOOC platforms for continuing professional education and certifications:

    3. Industry Conferences

    Attending professional conferences is a great way to stay on top of new developments, network with other professionals in your field, and learn about new technologies and solutions.

    There are dozens of annual accounting and bookkeeping events held throughout the world that provide an excellent opportunity for learning and networking. Many also offer continuing professional education credits, so you can easily maintain your license or stay up-to-date on your certifications.

    Accounting Conferences

    Here are some of the most notable events in the accounting space in the U.S. and Canada:

    4. Peer Networks

    Networking with peers in the industry can be a great way to build connections, earn CPE credits, and find other professional learning opportunities. Many accounting and bookkeeping organizations and associations host regional events, webinars, and conferences that can provide you with valuable information on current trends in the accounting field and opportunities to collaborate and share ideas with your peers.

    Peer Network Options

    CPAs can join their state board of accountancy or state society. Other popular national associations include:

    Find more professional associations for accountants and bookkeepers in the U.S. and Canada.

    5. Webinars

    Webinars can be an excellent and cost-efficient way to earn CPE credits online and learn about current happenings in the profession without leaving your desk.

    Often, accounting and bookkeeping webinars are presented by industry experts who can provide up-to-date information on innovations in accounting, tax, auditing, workforce trends, and success strategies. These webinars may cover topics such as technology, best practices, regulations, and other key topics. They often provide valuable insights into becoming a more successful and efficient accountant or bookkeeper.

    Many webinars provide CPE credits for CPAs and Enrolled Agents (EAs), so you can fulfill your CPE requirements while developing your skills for the future.

    Webinars for Accountants and Bookkeepers

    Organizations that offer webinars for accounting professionals include:

    Several industry publications also offer webinars. Many state boards or state CPA societies also offer webinars for members.

    6. Online Communities and Social Media Groups

    In addition to traditional professional networks and events, online communities and social media groups can be a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the accounting industry.

    These online platforms are often filled with like-minded colleagues who are willing to share their insights and experiences.

    Online Communities and Social Media Groups for Accountants

    A few to check out include:

    Free or Low-Cost Professional Development for Accountants

    Investing in professional development opportunities is a smart move for anyone looking to advance their skills and stay current with the latest trends in their field.

    However, if you are on a budget and need to be mindful of how much you spend on professional development, there are plenty of CPE courses, training events, and programs that offer excellent educational opportunities at a very low cost or even free.

    FreshBooks certification for accounting professionals
    • CPAAcademy.org provides free webinars on various topics, including cryptocurrency, data analytics, diversity and inclusion, IRS updates, leadership, and business development.
    • The Cloud Accounting Podcast is a weekly podcast that provides a roundup of accounting technology news, interviews with leaders in the profession, and entertaining discussions on industry trends.
    • Earmark CPE is an app that allows accounting professionals, including CPAs, EAs, and Certified Management Accountants (CMAs), to earn CPE credit by listening to podcasts, including the Cloud Accounting Podcast and several others. The free plan provides one credit per week for any free course. Or, for $99.99 per year, you can earn unlimited CPE credits. After you listen to a podcast, you simply answer a few questions in the app, and you’ll receive your CPE certificate via email.
    • CPA Practice Advisor’s Ensuring Success Conference is a free 2-day virtual conference that allows CPAs and EAs to earn up to 16 hours of free CPE credits every December. Each day offers several hour-long sessions on technical accounting and tax topics, firm management, and advice for business growth.

    Taking advantage of these and other free and low-cost can be an excellent way to save money on professional development while still gaining valuable knowledge and job skills.

    Join the Growth-Minded Movement

    By taking advantage of continuing education opportunities, peer networks, and other learning resources, accounting professionals can keep up with trends and technologies, network with peers, and stay competitive in the field. With a range of offerings, from hour-long webinars to in-person events, you can find something that fits your schedule and budget.

    If you want to join the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program, visit the program page to apply online. With our comprehensive FreshBooks Certification and training, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn and grow your expertise and develop a successful career or business.

    Janet Berry-Johnson

    Written by Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA and Freelance Contributor

    Posted on March 30, 2023