Continuing education units or CEUs are awarded to those who complete training and education in a specified area. Continuing education allows individuals to progress in their industry, field or profession. Some professions require CEUs to maintain certain licenses and other certifications. According to the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), a CEU is defined as 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction and qualified instruction. Although there are no official qualifications for an institution or organization to award CEUs, there are several considerations.

Who Gives CEUs?

Businesses, associations, schools and other organizations are able to award CEUs without acquiring prior permission or approval. The CEU is considered public domain, which means that no one person or entity holds a legal claim to its usage. Some conferences and events award CEUs to attendees.

International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)

IACET is a nonprofit organization created to establish CEU standards that adhere to the guidelines set in place by the organization to promote quality education and training around the world. According to the Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville, IACET conducts research and development projects to improve continuing education and training and also disseminates effective teaching and learning practices for adults, as well as educates the public about the CEU. Organizations that meet the standards set by IACET are eligible to become what is termed an "authorized provider."

Accreditation and Credibility

Institutions and organizations are not required to be accredited to offer CEUs. Although no stipulations are in place that would prevent anyone from awarding them, not all CEUs are honored and accepted by other institutions. There are benefits, including increased credibility, to becoming an authorized IACET provider. These providers are able to issue CEUs that are backed by the organization's internationally recognized standards and quality level of education and training.