This article explores the emergence of mandatory continuing professional education (CPE) at The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (hereafter CPA Ireland). While a relatively recent phenomenon within the accounting profession, mandatory CPE is an essential component of ongoing education for accounting professionals. Mandatory CPE was not required of accountants until 1 January 2006, following 2004 International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) guidance. However, bye-laws of accounting bodies in the United Kingdom and Ireland referred to CPE since the 1970s as a recommendation, not a mandatory requirement. CPA Ireland instigated such a mandatory CPE system effective 1 January 1993, many years before the 2004 IFAC guidance and nearly a decade before most other professional accounting bodies in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This article explores the historical emergence of this mandatory CPE system through a neo-institutional approach. The evidence suggests that some institutional contradictions arose, mainly around misaligned interests (growth vs survival) and legitimacy (as a professional accounting body). From these contradictions, institutional change from within emerged – and a key component of this change was mandatory CPE.