One of the major economic engines of the South, North Carolina boasts a GDP of $517.9 billion, which ranks 10th in the country. Three of the “Big Four” international CPA firms have offices in North Carolina (KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young), along with Dixon Hughes Goodman, the largest financial firm in the region. North Carolina is also home to 12 Fortune 500 companies, including Bank of America and Lowe’s. Over 1,600 licensed CPA firms offer their services across North Carolina—a number that’s steadily rising along with the state’s population and economic growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Projections Central predicts a 16.1% increase in accounting jobs by 2024, which is more than 5% above the national average.

North Carolina at a glance

Population 10,150,000
Per Capita Income $25,774
Unemployment Rate 4.1%
Fortune 500 Companies 12
Licensed CPA Firms 1,601

Accounting Programs in North Carolina

Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in North Carolina, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.

Accounting Salaries and Employment

North Carolinian accountants and auditors can expect to notice drastic job growth of 16.7% over the next seven years, culminating in the creation of over 38,000 additional positions between 2012 to 2022. Firms like Dixon Hughes Goodman, which generated $310.00 million in revenue last year, are major accounting employers in the state.

CPAs working in top-paying cities like Charlotte, Durham-Chapel Hill and Wilmington can anticipate earning between $37,280 and $134,370 depending upon licensure, specialty and years of experience.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

32,800 Employees2012
38,280 Employees2022
North Carolina 14.3% increase
1,275,400 Employees2012
1,442,200 Employees2022
United States 11.6% increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

North Carolina Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $35,790

Payroll Clerks

\ $37,280

Credit Counselors

\ $43,540

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $59,900

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $51,530

Accountants and Auditors

\ $51,530

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $71,200

Budget Analysts

\ $68,810

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $117,520


\ $98,840

Financial Managers

\ $134,370
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC
  2. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
  3. Wilmington, NC
  4. Greensboro-High Point, NC
  5. Winston-Salem, NC
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in North Carolina

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Dixon Hughes GoodmanCharlotte, NC$371

Accounting Today named these firms among the highest performing in a multi-state region. Rankings as based upon reported net revenues from 2014. Source: Accounting Today, "Top 100 Firms and Regional Leaders"

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in North Carolina

Future CPAs of North Carolina who need to sit for the CPA Exam in order to become licensed must meet the requirements listed below. The Board offers CPA exams from various vendors who have contracted with NASBA, but all are the Uniform CPA Exam prepared by the AICPA.

Several colleges and universities in the state have accounting programs with top passing rates. The scores from the schools ranked by their CPA passing rates below include both first time testers and candidates returning to attempt the exam again, as is common for many students.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in North Carolina

To be eligible for CPA licensure in North Carolina, candidates must meet the qualifications listed below:

  • Be a minimum of 18 years old
  • Be a citizen of the U.S.
  • Have a Social Security number
  • Fulfill the 150 hour educational requirement
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree
  • Complete 30 semester hours of undergraduate accounting courses
  • Complete 20 semester hours of graduate accounting courses
  • Complete 1 year of supervised work experience or 4 years of unsupervised experience in accounting
  • Take and pass the Exam on North Carolina Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct
Age Requirement18
Citizenship RequirementYes
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for Licensure150 hours (including a bachelor's degree) or should a candidate possess a Master’s degree or more advanced degree in accounting, tax law, economics, finance, business administration or a law degree from an accredited college or university or the equivalent.
Participates in International ProgramsNo
Hours in Accounting30 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours of undergraduate accounting (which includes no more than 6 hours of accounting principles) or 20 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours of graduate accounting courses open only to graduate students or a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses
Exam Sitting RequirementsBachelor's degree (120 hours)
Experience RequirementsThe work experience requirement is one year of supervised experience or four years of unsupervised experience with accounting in government, industry, academia or public practice.
Ethics ExamExam on North Carolina Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct

The Board strongly recommends candidates to visit the AICPA website to complete the tutorial and sample tests prior to registering for the exam. Fees for each examination vary to cover actual costs of examination services. Specific fee information available upon request.

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in North Carolina

  • Application Fee $230
  • Auditing & Attestation $208
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $208
  • Regulation $208
  • Business Environment & Concepts $208

Certifying and Professional Organizations

The North Carolina State Board of CPA Examiners, as an independent, self-funded occupational licensing board, is responsible for administering the Uniform CPA Exam prepared by AICPA and granting CPA licensure to those who meet the requirements. The Board also registers firms, renews licenses, continuing education programs and peer review compliance.

Future and current CPAs are eligible to join the North Carolina Association of CPAs, which is comprised of over 30 committees, task forces and advisory groups that keep in contact with the AICPA, the State Board, the IRS and the Financial Accounting Standards Board to ensure that members are up-to-date on accounting standards.

North Carolina State Board of CPA Examiners


1101 Oberlin Road, Suite 104
Raleigh, NC 27605

Phone Number

(919) 733-4222

North Carolina Association of CPAs


3100 Gateway Centre Boulevard
Morrisville, NC 27560

Phone Number

(919) 469-1040


[email protected]