North Carolina CPA Requirements

How To Become a CPA in North Carolina: Step By Step Guide

north-carolina-cpa-exam-requirementsLearn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In North Carolina

North Carolina, sometimes called The Old North State, has a strong economy focused around food processing, banking, and technology. Ranked #7 in education, NC has proven itself to be a great place to live for families.

North Carolina is a perfect place to start your career as a CPA. With it’s economy heavily dependent on the financial sector, certified public accountants are in demand and the job opportunities continue to grow.

Before you start a career in accounting in North Carolina, you will need to fulfill the minimum qualifications. Let’s analyze the NC CPA requirements to sit for the CPA exam and become a licensed CPA in North Carolina.

Minimum North Carolina CPA Requirements for Certification

Future CPAs have to complete the following CPA requirements to take the CPA exam and become a licensed certified public accountant in North Carolina:

  • Must be at least 18 years
  • Must be a US citizen
  • Must have a social security number
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree with 150 credit hours
  • North Carolina Residency: not required
  • A Baccalaureate degree is a must

North Carolina is among few states that requires all CPA candidates to be US citizens. Thus, international candidates do not qualify to sit for the CPA exam in NC unless they are able to gain US citizenship and obtain a valid social security number.

North Carolina CPA Education Requirements

Future CPAs must complete the basic education requirements to sit for the CPA exam in North Carolina. Although CPA candidates must complete at least 150 college credit hours to become licensed in NC, you only have to complete 120 credits to be eligible for the exam.

The education requirement includes a Bachelor’s degree with at least 120 semester hours of coursework including both accounting and general business credits.

Accounting Coursework

CPA candidates are required to complete at least 30 credit hours of accounting coursework including:

  • 6 hours of accounting principles
  • 20 hours of graduate accounting courses
  • 3 hours of business law
  • Combination of graduate and undergraduate course which include four credit hours of income tax

General Business Coursework

Candidates must also complete 24 semester hours of general business courses including:

  • Communications
  • Computer technology
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Statistics
  • International environment
  • Business law

Check with the North Carolina State Board of Accountancy to see if your educational credits meet the North Carolina CPA requirements before you apply to take the CPA exam.

Otherwise, you may be in for a surprise that some of your credits do not count towards the CPA requirements and you will need to take additional courses to fulfill the qualifications.

Unfortunately, North Carolina does not let candidates use their CPA exam training course towards the education requirement unless it counts for college credit. In other words, you can only count your review course if it was taken through an accredited college and you received college credit for it.

North Carolina CPA Exam Requirements

North Carolina only requires CPA candidates to complete 120 credit hours to take the CPA exam. You will, however, have to finish the 150-credit hour requirement in order to become certified.

Once you complete the education requirements (120 credit hours) and meet the personal qualifications of age and citizenship, you will be eligible to take the CPA exam in North Carolina.

You can apply to the NC State Board of CPA Examiners by submitting the following documents along with your CPA exam application:

  • College transcripts
  • Two copies of passport-style photo
  • Three references proving your moral character
  • Application fee
  • Any records related to pending or past charges

Your academic transcripts should be sent directly to the Board from your school. Processing of the application takes up to 20 days.

Once the State Board approves your application, you will be issued an NTS allowing you to schedule a CPA exam. You can schedule your CPA exam through Prometric, which has an exam center in:

  • Charlotte
  • Ashville
  • Greenville
  • Raleigh
  • Wilmington
  • Greensboro

The CPA exam sections include Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Regulation (REG), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).

NC CPA Exam Costs & Fees

The CPA exam costs $732.08 to take in North Carolina, not including application and registration fees. Here is a breakdown of the CPA exam fees:

  • Application fee: $230
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): $192.03
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $175.51
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $192.03
  • Regulation (REG): $172.51
  • Administrative/re-exam fee: $75.00

Keep in mind, you will need to pay an application fee of $230, plus a separate fee for each section you take.

If you fail a section, you will need to pay an additional re-exam fee in addition to the section fee.

North Carolina CPA License Requirements

Once you’ve passed the CPA exam, you can apply for a CPA license. Before you are eligible to become a licensed Certified Public Accountant in NC, you’ll need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program (150 credit hours)
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam
  • Pass the Ethics Exam
  • One year work experience in public accounting

Ethics Exam

CPA candidates are required to pass the North Carolina Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct Exam at least one year before applying for the licensure.

Work Experience Requirements

Before receiving CPA certification in North Carolina, you must finish an approved work experience program focused on accounting. There are several different approved options to gain experience in North Carolina.

Option #1 – One Year of Public or Private Accounting Experience

You are allowed to practice under the direct supervision of an active certified public accountant for at least one year (2,000 hours) in either public or private accounting.

The supervising CPA must be in good standings and report your experience to the board upon completion.

Option #2 – Four Years of Experience in the following fields:

  • Self-employed accounting experience
  • Accounting practice experience without CPA supervision
  • Teaching accounting experience in an accredited university or college

The one year’s experience is equivalent to 52 weeks of employment full-time with at least 30 hours of work per week.

North Carolina CPA License Application & Renewal

Active CPA license holders must maintain their licenses by renewing them annually and completing continuing professional education.

The CPA renewal process can be finished through the NC State Board website. You can also pay the annual renewal fees online.

In North Carolina, you have to complete at least 40 hours of CPE per year, which you can report any time of the year. Notably, two of the 40 hours should be on behavioral or regulatory professional ethics, a self-study or group format.

Typically, CPAs report their credits at the end of the year when they send in their renew forms online.

CPE course credits should include:

  • Business law
  • Ethics
  • Management
  • Personal development
  • Accounting and Auditing
  • Tax
  • Consultancy
  • Special knowledge and applications

North Carolina CPA Salary

The average North Carolina CPA salary is $75,732 per year according to the NC Dept. of Labor. This average wage depends on work experience, location, and industry with Charlotte and Raleigh having the highest average earnings.

Becoming a CPA in NC offers you a ton of career opportunities. If you want to take a CPA exam in North Carolina, always check the North Carolina State Board of Accountancy website for any changes in rules, CPA exam requirements, and exam fees.

Additional North Carolina CPA Resources

Here are the most common resources you can use to learn how to take the CPA exam in North Carolina and become a certified public accountant.