How to Become a Licensed CPA in North Carolina

north-carolina-cpa-requirementsNorth Carolina only requires 120 semester hours in order to take the exam, but candidates will have to complete 150 credit hours to be licensed.

NC is unique in that it allows you to fulfill your work experience requirements while being a self-employed accountant. This is ideal for entrepreneurs who want get certified.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to take the exam and get licensed.

North Carolina CPA Exam Requirements

In order to be eligible to sit for the exam in North Carolina, candidates must meet the following personal qualifications and educational requirements.

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be a US citizen
  • Not Required to be a NC resident
  • Valid Social Security Number Required
  • NC does not participate in the International Examination Program

Educational Requirements to Sit

Although North Carolina requires that you to complete a bachelor’s degree with at least 120 credit hours before you can take the CPA exam, you can sit for it before you graduate. This is a great opportunity for students who want to get a jump on their certification. Let’s take a look at what courses you will need to take in order to sit for the exam:

Bachelor’s Degree or higher (at least 120 semester hours) including:

  • 30 credit hours of Accounting of which 3 hours can be Business Law
  • No requirement for general business classes.

Remember, if you are a current student in your senior year, you can start applying to take the exam as long as you are within 120 days of graduation. This means you can get the entire application and approval process out of the way before you even finish your undergraduate. It’s a great advantage that lots of other states don’t allow. Use it! Trust me. ☺

Exam Fees

The total cost to take the CPA exam in North Carolina is $959.08 including an initial one-time $230 application fee. The cost for each section is listed below.


AUD – Audit $192.03
FAR – Financial Accounting and Reporting $192.03
BEC – Business Environment and Concepts $172.51
REG – Regulation $172.51


The fees are typically based on the duration of the exam. That’s why the FAR and AUD exams cost the most.

IMPORTANT – Don’t try to get ahead of yourself and register for all four sections at once. Your NTS will expire if you don’t take the exam in 6 months and you will have to re-register. The bummer is you will have to pay again in order to register. Re-registration application fees are $75, so only sign up for the exams that you are ready to sit for in the next 6 months.

The state CPA requirements don’t make you take more than one CPA exam in the same testing window, so pace yourself and take your time signing up for each CPA exam section.

CPA License Requirements

The CPA exam process can be overwhelming to anyone who hasn’t been through it before. It’s okay! You will make it. Applying for the test is just the first step in becoming a CPA in NC. It’s kind of like a right of passage. We have all done it and know what you are going through.

After you pass the exam, you will have to do a few simple things before you can legally call yourself a Certified Public Accountant. Here is the basic process.

Pass the Exam

You’ll have to pass all four sections of the exam with a score of at least 75 in an 18-month period.


Submit all the required paperwork to the state board usually includes transcripts, license application, and proof of work experience.


Pay the license/certification fees with your application.

Ethics Exam

No Ethics exam is required.

Additional Education

If you took the exam before you completed 150 credit hours, you will need to complete your remaining 30 semester hours before you can get licensed. Keep in mind that you must pass at least 30 credit hours in accounting courses in order to meet the CPA license qualifications for a certificate.

Work Experience Requirements

North Carolina’s work experience is unique from all other states because it is much more flexible and allows you to work in many different fields of accounting. You can complete one of the following:

1-year or 2,000 hours of general accounting and auditing skills in Public Accounting or Private Industry supervised and verified by a CPA in good standing.


4-years of general accounting skills teaching at a College or University


4-years of general accounting skills being self-employed as an accountant. There are a few rules that go along with this qualification. Make sure you contact the state board about this.

More North Carolina CPA Exam Resources

The entire process from gathering your paperwork, applying to sit, studying, and sitting for the exam is pretty involved. I know exactly how you feel. Just know that we all have been through the same thing.

Remember, the North Carolina state board will need proof of all of your education. You will have to send in transcripts from every college you’ve attended if more than one. Sometimes this can be difficult and time-consuming depending on the colleges you attended.

Contacting the state board during the application process is always a good idea. You can find out what they have on file and what they need to approve your application. Nothing is worse than finding out they need something after the fact.

Many times, states don’t receive test scores from Prometrics. Things can get lost or forgotten about. It happens. Unfortunately, most state boards rarely notify you that something is missing. This happened to me. My transcripts actually got lost in the mail. I had to send them twice!

Directly contacting the board is the fastest and easiest way to confirm that they have everything they need before you get too far along in your application.

Here is the contact info for the state board.

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