(a) Qualifications. - A clerk or assistant clerk of superior court or a magistrate, to be designated and serve as a child support hearing officer, shall satisfy each of the following qualifications:
(1) Be at least 21 years of age and not older than 70 years of age, and have a high school degree or its equivalent.
(2) Be qualified by training and temperament to be effective in relating to parties in child support cases and in conducting hearings fairly and efficiently.
(3) Be certified by the Administrative Office of the Courts as having completed the training required by subsection (b).
(4) Establish that he has one of the following qualifications;
a. Election or appointment as the clerk of superior court; or
b. Three years experience as an assistant clerk of superior court working in child support or related matters; or
c. Six years experience as an assistant clerk of superior court; or
d. Four years experience as a magistrate whose duties have included, in substantial part, the disposition of civil matters; or
e. Pursuant to G.S. 7A-171.1, five to seven years eligibility for pay as a magistrate; or
f. Three years experience working in the field of child support enforcement or a related field.
(b) Training Required. - Before a clerk or assistant clerk or a magistrate may conduct hearings as a child support hearing officer he must satisfactorily complete a course of instruction in the conduct of such hearings established by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall establish a course in the conduct of such hearings. The Administrative Office of the Courts may contract with qualified educational organizations to conduct the course of instruction and must reimburse the clerks or magistrates attending for travel and subsistence incurred in taking such training. (1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 993, s. 1.)