Certification Criteria

Certification Criteria

Sponsored jointly by The NCAZO and the School of Government at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Course

The Zoning Official Certification Course is a minimum of a five (5) day long course, consisting of a minimum of 30 hours of class time that is designed for local government zoning officials seeking to be certified as a Zoning Official in the State of North Carolina. The course is designed to help students develop administrative skills in reviewing plans, inspecting sites, enforcing ordinances, and providing service to customers. Special attention will be given to the enforcement of the ordinances in the field. The course will serve as both a prerequisite to and a review of the skills and knowledge upon which the zoning official certification program examination will be based.


The course generally includes a presentation of the following topics:

General Course Content (3.5 hr)

  • Public Records
  • Ethics
  • Liability

Zoning Administration (10 hr)

  • Legal framework review
  • Dealing with particular uses
  • Maps and site plan review
  • Ordinance amendments
  • Quasi-Judicial Procedures
  • Interpretation

Enforcement (13 hr)

  • Overview (permits, appeals, administrative enforcement)
  • Research and investigative techniques
  • Legal issues with inspections (warrants, evidence, trespass)
  • Case study
  • Litigation
  • Dealing with conflict and difficult situations

Certification (5 hr)

  • Certification program
  • Exam review
  • Exam

The content and length of each session may vary slightly from one course offering to the next and may be adjusted by the Committee as needed and/or as proposed by the School of Government faculty.


In order to qualify for the certification course, a candidate must have completed any of the prerequisite courses.

The pre-requisite courses are:  Introduction to Zoning in NC (prior to 2013) OR Foundations in Planning & Development Regulation and Zoning Practice. More information about these courses can be found here. Initial questions of eligibility shall be determined by the School of Government faculty member who serves as the course director.  Appeals of their decisions shall be made to the Committee. The requirement that a prerequisite course be completed may be waived if a potential candidate has shown acceptable experience and knowledge in the field.  The course administrator shall have the authority to allow this exception.

Examination Certification

No person is eligible to sit for the examination unless he or she has completed the certification course. To complete the course, a student may miss no more than the equivalent of one full day of the course. No certificate will be awarded simply for completing the course.

However, the NCAZO will award a special certificate to those who pass the certification examination. Each person who attends the course will be expected to take the examination.

Application and Enrollment

Registration for courses is done on the School of Government web page. Once registered, the course administrator will finalize selection of students, and will notify them of their acceptance into the course.


Knapp-Sanders Building
Campus Box 3330
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330


A notebook of materials will be distributed to each student at the beginning of the course.


The faculty coordinators for the course are Dave Owens and Adam Lovelady with the School of Government. They, and other faculty members, private consultants, and local government zoning practitioners, will present the program.

Lodging Information

Accommodations are available at a number of motels in the Chapel Hill/Durham area. A list of these will be sent to accepted applicants.

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