Average salary in North Carolina

3 mins readLast updated October 5, 2023by Kate Morgan

This article will take you through the main things you need to know about the average salaries and highest paying counties in North Carolina.

The diverse geography of North Carolina makes it challenging to define a 'good' salary, with varying living costs across the state. Whether you are already living in North Carolina or planning to move, it is useful to understand the financial landscape.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, North Carolina ranks as the 27th most expensive state to live in. But which cities and counties offer the highest average salaries? 

Average salary in North Carolina by city

The average salary in North Carolina varies greatly depending on the city. Cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh have average salaries in the mid-$50,000 range, while Durham and Chapel Hill average in the mid-$60,000s. More rural areas like Fayetteville and Hickory have lower average salaries.  

Average earnings by city—or any other geographical metric—is just one way of calculating wealth, and certainly shouldn’t be the only way you look at your own earning potential in a given place. It doesn’t take into account the type of jobs that people do to earn above or below this average bracket, and omits any consideration for the number of people living in a household. However, it’s certainly one way of establishing which place offers good earning opportunities.  

The US Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey has calculated the average earnings for the largest cities in North Carolina, which you can find ranked below.  

CityAverage earnings
Cary $109,271
Durham $70,780
Raleigh $65,695
Charlotte $63,593
Greensboro $56,897
Wilmington $55,022
Winston-Salem $53,523
Greenville $51,190
High Point $47,695

Average salary in North Carolina by county

Reviewing average salaries in North Carolina by city is not necessarily an adequate metric for average salaries across the state, since it’s entirely urban focused. A good idea is to weigh these figures up against the average salary in North Carolina by county, as this will take areas outside the main cities into account and offer a broader idea of salary ranges.  

The same survey from the US Census Bureau gives further insight this way, with the average household income calculated for the 20 largest counties. 

County Average household income
Wake County $89,728
Mecklenburg County $78,038
Orange County $81,194
Durham County $73,928
Chatham County $76,704
Union County $97,789
Cabarrus County $75,551
Guilford County $65,034
Forsyth County $66,364
New Hanover County $71,654
Buncombe County $59,946
Davidson County $53,652
Catawba County $52,729
Randolph County $48,358
Rowan County $53,803
Gaston County $54,871
Iredell County $71,168
Johnston County $71,001
Pitt County $54,971
Craven County $51,005

Highest paying jobs in North Carolina

There’s another weighty factor that will influence how much you earn if you live in North Carolina: your job type. Average salaries for various sectors and job roles can vary massively across the state, so it’s absolutely something to consider when looking at salaries by location.  

Zippia has calculated a comprehensive list of annual salaries by job title. You can also find the top 10 highest-paying titles in North Carolina below.  

OccupationAverage salary
Finance Services Director $211,514
Primary Care Pediatrician $208,306
Vice President, Field Operations $192,705
Pain Management Physician $185,993
Chief Medical Officer $185,817
Medical Consultant $185,703
Executive Vice President $180,772
Executive Vice President Marketing $178,775
Chief Operating Officer, Chief Technology Officer $178,057
Senior Vice President, Sales $177,878

Frequently asked questions about salaries in North Carolina

What is the average salary in North Carolina by age? 

Alongside location and occupation, salaries in North Carolina are also dependent on age, since more senior workers will be paid more. Then, when they retire, their income will dip again as they will rely on pensions and other forms of set income. 

The Census Bureau data finds that householders under 25 have a median household income of $34,060; householders aged 25 to 44 years old have a median income of $60,329; those aged 45 to 64 years old have a median income of $68,612; and those 65 and older have a median income of $46,435. 

What is a ‘good’ salary in North Carolina? 

The median income in North Carolina is $57,341. Defining ‘good’ relies on all sorts of variable factors and these should be taken into account. For example, $100,000 is a far higher salary than the state average—but may not be as high in some of the more expensive cities like Cary or Wake County. 

What is the average salary in North Carolina by hour? 

If Americans work an average of 1,801 hours per year—at 37.5 hours a week—then the average hourly salary in North Carolina is $31.83. 

Getting expert advice before you make significant financial decisions can really benefit you in the long term. Protect your financial future and speak to one of our financial advisors today.  

Content writer

Kate Morgan

Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.