North Carolina ranks among the top states for highest employment among nurse practitioners (NPs), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 26% growth nationwide from 2018-28. North Carolina NPs also receive higher-than-average salaries, particularly in the urban areas. The mean annual wages in the state total more than $104,000, with NPs in Raleigh-Durham, NC, earning even higher pay.
Opportunities in many of the state's metropolitan areas continue to rise. Raleigh-Durham, and Charlotte, NC, top the list for number of projected new jobs. The North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis expects Raleigh-Durham to add 397 new NP jobs and Charlotte to increase its NP positions by 228 through 2026.
Read on for information about the best nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina, along with the educational and procedural steps to becoming a licensed NP and ideas for potential specializations and focus areas. You can also find job growth and salary data that compares North Carolina to its neighboring states and resources for students and practitioners.
Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Based in North Carolina
Licensed NPs in North Carolina must hold a master's degree in nursing (MSN), which typically takes 2-4 years to earn. Online NP programs in NC offer entirely online classes or a hybrid of online and on-campus coursework. Clinical hours, such as internships and fellowships, do require in-person attendance, however. The state licensure board requires 400 supervised clinical hours and 400 hours of education.
Degree requirements often vary among focus areas, and specializations may also influence which national certification to pursue after graduation.
NP students typically choose their specialty areas before beginning their program. Degree requirements often vary among focus areas, and specializations may also influence which national certification to pursue after graduation. NP programs in North Carolina offer such specialties as adult-gerontology, primary care, neonatal, pediatrics, and family care.
Common admission requirements typically consist of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and a registered nurse (RN) license. Schools may also require a specific GPA and GRE scores, academic transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, a personal interview, and one year of nursing experience. Requirements vary by school and program, so make sure to check with admissions departments for specifics.
Several nursing organizations have moved to require DNPs for entry-level practitioners by 2025, so aspiring NPs may want to consider pursuing DNPs.
While an MSN is currently the minimum degree needed to become a licensed NP, students seeking careers in high-level administration, research, or academia may opt for a doctor of nursing (DNP). Several nursing organizations have moved to require DNPs for entry-level practitioners by 2025, so aspiring NPs may want to consider pursuing DNPs.
Some programs allow applicants with a bachelor's degree to enter DNP programs directly, but most require an MSN for admission.
Complete List of Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in North Carolina
North Carolina Nurse Practitioner Career Information
As shown in the table below, North Carolina's mean annual wages and job growth projections fall short of the national rates. However, the state's NPs still earn the third-highest pay among nearby southern states, and the growth rate falls just slightly under the U.S. projection. However, the cost of living is fairly low in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, the ratio of NPs per every 10,000 people averages to 6.61, and a shortage of primary care physicians nationwide means that NPs remain in demand. Currently, 80% of NP students select primary care as their focus area.
Nurse Practitioner Salary and Projected Job Growth in North Carolina and Nearby States
APRN licenses renew annually by the end of your birth month. The state requires evidence of continuing competency to renew, including:
Two years of active clinical practice or a board-approved refresher course
National certification or recertification with 50 documented hours of continuing education, either from obtaining formal continuing education credits or approved activities, including presentations, precepting, publishing, research, or volunteer service
A self-assessment in which you describe your knowledge-based practice, collaborations, and professional responsibility and ethical practices
Online renewal application
RN license renewal
Updated collaborative practice agreement (CPA) reviewed and signed by your primary supervising physician
Other Requirements for North Carolina Nurse Practitioners
NPs work under the supervision of primary supervising physicians in North Carolina. The state does not demand the supervisor's physical presence but does require the physician to be available for consultation with the NP at all times. NC also requires documented quality improvement meetings between the NP and the supervising physician for the first six months of the collaboration. These meetings address the current clinical issues, progress toward improvement, and recommendations for changes in treatment plans, if applicable.
A CPA outlines the terms of the NP/supervisor relationship and includes identification of the devices, drugs, procedures, tests, and treatments the NP can use or provide. This agreement also includes the supervision format (in person, video, or phone call), and a predetermined plan for emergency services.
NPs who prescribe controlled substances must register with the Controlled Substance Reporting System within 30 days after approval.
The state nursing board confers prescriptive authority as part of the NP's approval to practice. NPs who prescribe controlled substances must register with the Controlled Substance Reporting System within 30 days after approval.
Other requirements for North Carolina NPs may include specialty certifications for fields like orthopedics, emergency medicine, palliative care, oncology, dermatology, nephrology, cardiology, surgery, and holistic care. Some specialties may require additional continuing education credits.
Information for Out-Of-State Nurse Practitioners
North Carolina participates in the nursing licensure compact (NLC), which allows practice under a multistate license among compact states, but only for RNs and licensed practical nurses. North Carolina accepts RN licenses from other compact member states, but to become an NP in the state, applicants must take part in the standard approval process from the nursing board. This also applies to those licensed as NPs in other states. Their RN licenses fall under the NLC, and the NLC does not apply to NP licensing.
An APRN Compact, applicable to NPs, was approved in 2015, but North Carolina has not joined as of this writing. The compact will take effect once 10 states enact the legislation.
Practice and prescriptive authority vary from state to state. North Carolina falls within the restricted practice designation due to the supervisory requirement. Other states allow full practice or reduced practice.
Resources for North Carolina Nurse Practitioners
North Carolina Nurse Practitioner Network Member benefits offered by this organization include news briefs, networking events, a career center, and provider resources. To join, members can enroll on the website.
Council of Nurse Practitioners As part of the North Carolina Nurses Association, the council offers opportunities for NPs to affect healthcare reform laws, provide public education regarding NPs' role in patient care, and receive policy and legislative updates.
North Carolina Board of Nursing As the licensing entity for the state, the board provides information and applications for all levels of nursing licenses. It also provides news and updates on topics of interest to practitioners.
North Carolina Nurses Association This organization supports North Carolina nurses with free and low-cost continuing education opportunities, networking meetings, a document library, and legislative advocacy on issues involving nursing and patient care.