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Should CPA working in private industry maintain Active status?

Should CPA working in private industry maintain Active status?Hey all,

I'm a CPA, former auditor, now working in the private sector as a Controller.  How important is it for me to keep my CPA status as "active"?  I've been "inactive" now for about two years, but part of me would like to maintain that active status even though I don't have a real need for it.  Plus I'd have to convince my company to pay for the training units I'll need to reactivate my status.  That's a lot of time and money to spend for something I wouldn't necessarily need.  

What are your thoughts?



Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Here's my 2 cents. Keep it in case an opportunity arises that you need it. Hopefully you will not find yourself dismissed from the company, but if you do, you should be able to get a job much quicker with an active CPA license.

My controller let his go inactive. Now a need at our company has come up for him to be an active CPA license holder. He is taking lots of time, money, and effort to get recertified. Luckily he only has to catch up on CPE.

Plus, if you keep it active it will ensure you continue to sharpen your skills in the workplace.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Look at your longer-term goal, Anonymous. If it is a CFO someday, even in the private sector, CPAs still have an edge. As Chris said, recertification is a lengthy, time-consuming, expensive process and having to "catch up" to bring yourself up-to-speed is never a good position. Neither is missing a dream opportunity because a CPA was required and you didn't have that credential.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

The requirement to take continuing education via CPE credit may seem like a pain, but it makes tremendous sense. So many professionals complete their undergraduate and graduate education and then stop. Continued learning is essential in the financial world. Now to your question. If I need to take the continuing education anyway, and I already have the certification, I would never let it lapse, assuming the fee is no issue. The longer you keep it inactive, the harder it will be to re-activate. Those three letters can only help you. If for no other reason but by placing you above your competition when looking for a job, as that person may not have a CPA.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

When you say active, I assume you mean "licensed to audit."

Most companies today don't require job seekers to have a license to practice public accounting, but they want evidence that you have passed the CPA exam and have the required work experience as a professional who understands GAAP and can coordinate an external audit successfully.

Today employers are NOT paying for CPE. Robert Half conducted a survey of major company CFOs and 75% responded they are not paying for CPE. They will still let you have days away to take CPE, but they won't pay for it.

Let's just say this, if it comes down to who takes their career as an accountant seriously, its going to the one who can put CPA after their name, and not have to explain why its a retired certificate. In my State if you no longer meet the CPE requirement, you cannot say you are a CPA or were one on any document. Meaning if you go around saying "I used to be a CPA" State law in my State sees that as a con of the public trust. You either are a CPA or you are not in my State.

There are a lot of CFOs that put CPA certificate on their resume, but they are not allowed to do that unless they meet the CPE requirements in State.

You have to know who you are talking to and most businesses don't have a clue.

The State Board in my State just says "you get what you pay for."

So there you go.

Michael B. Hutchison
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Pine Island Chemicals
(Chief Financial Officer, Pine Island Chemicals) |

One thought to consider for the CPE question is that there is a lot of free CPE available online from KPMG, E&Y and so forth from the webcasts they do periodically. You can get 15-20 (or more) hours in 1-2 hour segments and pay pretty close to nothing. All you need is a couple of hours of uninterrupted time and a web connection.

Nathan Clausen
Title: SEC Reporting Manager
Company: Daktronics
(SEC Reporting Manager, Daktronics) |

Valerie, either call it luck or against the norm, but I have been with two companies since I left public accounting and they both have paid for my CPE and license renewals including renewals to state CPA societies and the AICPA. Although in full disclosure this could be because my main focus has been in SEC Reporting and training is key to stay up to date with regulations. So I think wether a company pays for a person to have an active CPA license depends on the job description. If they wanted to hire someone with and active CPA license then they should pay to help keep it active. I think if someone wants a company to help re-activate their CPA license then they need to make a value proposition and note how they will use their training to come back and train other employees that could benefit from that knowledge.

Company: JGB

I agree with Valerie. It looks a lot better professionally if you can say that you are a CPA without having to explain that you did not want to pay the fee or keep up with the continuing ed.

Raymond Kinzer
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Fleming, Nolen & Jez L.L.P.
(Accounting Manager, Fleming, Nolen & Jez L.L.P.) |

In Texas you are either a CPA or not a CPA. You must maintain your license and CPE to utilize the CPA designation. My entire career is in industry and it is a CPA credential is important to your business contacts either within or outside the financial field. The general public places a value on a CPA. They assume the individual is both knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Continuing education can be expensive and time consuming. These are options, like Harold states, for this requirement. I always negotiate this during the interview process. If a CPA is important for a company to hire me, it should be equally important to continue the designation. If you pay for your own CPA, then you can tailor it to your individual interests and career path.

This is a career decision, not a position preference. If you don’t look out for your career, who will???

Philip Russell
Title: CFO
Company: FCB Homes
(CFO, FCB Homes) |

If you are a CPA stay current with your CPE because the world is constantly changing. Be the best CPA that you can be regardless of who is paying for the CPE. An investment in yourself pays the best dividend.

(Controller) |

I let mine go inactive and now would need to go back to school (42 hours!) to meet the education requirement. It was a huge mistake that is now costing me opportunities to get past the gatekeepers. Spend the time and money to keep your license active. Even if you won't need it now or in the near future, you may well need it someday.

John Harmon
Title: Owner
Company: John Harmon CPA
(Owner, John Harmon CPA) |

Maintaining your license demonstrates commitment and respect for the profession. I think the states' boards should do a more thorough job of policing who is representing the certification.

John Wheeler
Title: CEO
Company: Bunker Hill
(CEO, Bunker Hill) |

After all the time and hard work you put in to get your CPA in the first place, isn't it worth a small investment to keep you license active? Especially since there are now high quality programs for under $150 (my favorite is, I really think you would be best served staying active!

Jeff Redman
Title: Project Lead Estimator
Company: Crawford Consulting Services, Inc
(Project Lead Estimator, Crawford Consulting Services, Inc) |

CPE is such a pain, but well worth the time and $$; keep the license active, you will not regret


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