In addition to a few fees and dues required of CPA members, each CPA is obligated to meet a certain number of Professional Development (PD) hours. According to CPA Canada, the requirements are as follows:

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So, unless you’ve been designated as exempt from the CPD requirements, you should be getting up approximately 20 PD hours every year. Unfortunately, many of the options and courses that meet the requirements are incredibly expensive, often costing more than $100 per professional development (CPD hour) hour. You’re an accountant, so we’ll let you do the math on that cost.

Did you know you can lose your Canadian CPA Designation in the case of an audit of your CPD Hours? Are you Audit Proof?

It’s because of this expense that they offer an exempt status for folks who have fallen on hard times or are in specific circumstances. By submitting a request to CPA Canada, a member may be found exempt from the requirements for reasons of unemployment, maternity leave, sick leave, retirement, or other extraordinary situations.

If you aren’t exempt from the requirements, however, you’ll want to find a way to mitigate the potential thousands of dollars that the CPD requirements can cost you. In order to do so, let’s take a look at what qualifies as an accepted CPD program and how to get the most bang for your buck when filling your CPD requirements.

Ways to fulfill your CPD obligations

There variety of programming, coursework, reading, and education that qualifies as professional development hours is huge and diverse. You can accrue CPD hours through work in a number of capacities, and the professional development options fall under one of two broad categories: verifiable or unverifiable. At least 50% of your professional development hours must fall under the slightly stricter and organized “verifiable” category. Most importantly, the hours fulfilled must be pertinent to accounting and meet the CPA’s criteria:

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Meeting your quota of verifiable hours means participating in extracurricular professional development programs that are objectively and quantifiably helpful. In other words, these are industry specific achievements, courses, and programs: things you could put on your CV. They included publishing, technical writing, and research projects; formal study and work toward degrees and certifications; and teaching or professional training. Most of these projects involve heavy interaction with other industry professionals. They are scheduled programs that have specific quantities of time involved.

Alternatively, the unverifiable hours are much more casual in nature. Independent self-study and reading of technical journals meets the requirements for these hours, which allows you to keep the cost of your CPD requirements lower. In depth information about the requirements — what is acceptable and what isn’t — can be found online.

Savvy CPA’s keep their costs low

If you’re good about keeping track of your unverifiable hours, which shouldn’t cost you much money, you just need to get a little creative with your verifiable hours. Every year, you will need to complete 30 hours of each, verifiable and unverifiable. Between reading technical journals, learning new software, and general self-study, you should have the unverifiable hours covered with little to no expense.

As for the verifiable hours, however, technical training can cost a fortune, especially when you account for the associated costs of books, materials, and other necessities. If you’re savvy, however, you can fulfill these hours with very little cost. The key is to utilize your skills and knowledge to benefit others, while completing these hours.

Cutting down the cost of paid CPD Programming for Canadian CPAs

If you do need or want to participate in some formal study and training, there are endless options available. And, fortunately, there are many ways to cut down the costs of these programs. CPA Canada maintains a list of professional courses throughout the year, but, unfortunately, they’re incredibly expensive.

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The CPA’s online education portal offers some membership options and discounts for industry professionals, but you’re still looking at spending thousands of dollars to meet your requirements.

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Fortunately, offers a streamlined and cost-effective alternative. They make it easy to track your hours with all the verification you would need for an audit. Generally, their programming will keep you under $30 per PD hour, and they offer introductory specials for free hours as well as annual membership options.

Falling behind puts your career and CPA designation at risk

Thing is, if you don’t keep up with your CPD hours you risk a number of disciplinary actions from CPA Canada. You may even have your membership cancelled, leaving you unable to work as a CPA, like the long list of others who failed to comply. Keep your costs low, complete your hours, and you won’t have to worry about membership cancellation.

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Follow these few simple guidelines, and take a little time to source some creative options for meeting your quota, and you won’t break the bank to retain your CPA membership.

Try CPDFormula’s CPD program for Canadian CPAs. An Audit Proof way of keeping track of CPD credit for life, all online.