5 Things I Wish I Knew About the ERP Program before Signing Up

If you are anything like me, you know the direction you want your career to go, and you're trying to figure out the best way to get there. You may not have the direct work experience you need, so you're in search of a program that can bridge the gap that will lead to the job you want.

In my case I work in risk management for a consulting company and I want to transition my career into trading / risk management in the energy industry (I know, bad timing to make the switch right!).

In my search for ways to bridge this gap on my resume, I came across the Energy Risk Professional Program (ERP). I enrolled, studied, wrote the exam (twice), and obtained my ERP certification.

When I began looking to enroll in this program, the first thing I noticed was information about it was hard to come by. Here are 5 things I wish I knew about the ERP program before signing up.

The ERP Designation is recognized more by Electricity Companies

Although the ERP Program covers topics applying to all parts of the energy industry, including electricity and O&G, in my job search, I am finding that the ERP program is fairly well known with electricity companies, but less so with O&G companies.

The Exam was More Difficult than I Expected

If you don't already work in the energy industry, don't underestimate this exam. As mentioned, I did have to write it twice! It involved over 400 hours of study time, hundreds of pages of notes and probably the same amount of cups of coffee. Take it from me, this is an exam you cannot just cram for!

The Program has More Breadth Than Depth

As I am new to the energy industry, this program was perfect for me as it covers the entire energy value chain. It covers physical energy commodities (oil, gas, and coal) and electricity markets, as well as covering financial energy products and risk management.

I am now able to talk confidently about physical and financial energy markets; however, as difficult as the exam is, this program is a starting point. It gives you the framework for understanding the energy value chain, but may not have the depth of knowledge that some may hope for. That being said, the program does provide you with tools and additional material to develop your depth of knowledge over time.

Apply Your Knowledge; Don't Just Memorize!

This program includes online practice exams to help you prepare. But be aware, the practice questions are simplified versions of the actual exam questions. I was getting 90% and up on the practice exams, but when it came to the actual exam, I didn't pass the first time.

Memorizing how to complete these practice exam questions will only get you so far. The actual exam questions have an added complexity which the practice questions do not. You can be assured, the exam will separate those who truly understand the subject matter and how to apply it from those who memorized how to answer a particular style of question.

Importance of the learning objectives

Now this may seem like an obvious one, but the learning objectives are truly what you should be focusing on!

The exam covers a lot of topics and there is a lot to read and prepare for. It can be very overwhelming. Many of the readings have additional information that you don't need for the exam (although great to know!). Read the additional information, but always refer back to the learning objectives for what to study.

Comments (16)

Nov 4, 2015 - 12:22am
Justin., what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm based in Calgary, Canada and the ERP/GARP network seems to be growing strong in my region. A regional chapter was formed just over a year ago and I think this has fueled more interest in the program.

Here is a link to the various chapters if you're interested: http://www.garp.org/#!/chapters/

  • 2
Best Response
Nov 5, 2015 - 12:41am
Justin., what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think your comments add a lot of value to this post. Thank you!

I'm glad you brought up the math requirements of the program because I was surprised with the level of math in the exam. It had been a few years since I had taken a math course so it took some extra time to learn the financially traded energy products section of the program.

To answer your questions:

  1. I found the time constraint a little difficult, but it seemed like some people were able to leave the exam early (good or bad?). It was the calculation problems that ate up all the time for me. The first time I wrote the exam I spent far too much time on questions I didn't know how to solve. When I wrote the exam the second time I was quick to star any questions I was struggling with and came back to them after. When I went back to the difficult questions, I was more relaxed and I was able to solve a few of them. I found this helped a lot.

  2. Since there aren't a lot of practice questions I took the learning objectives and used them as questions to answer.

  3. The first time was a bit of a surprise and I went into the exam not knowing what to expect. The second time I prepared for the exam I focused only on the learning objectives. I skimmed the readings and looked for the answers to the learning objectives instead of taking notes on the entire reading. I also broke the learning objectives into different categories. First, I highlighted any learning objective that had the word "Calculate" in it. This is where I struggled on the first exam. Second, I went through to see what lists I could learn by highlighting any "compare and contrast" learning objective. An example of this is "compare and contrast the eight key mechanisms for pricing natural gas…". I rewrote these lists over and over again until I knew them well. I found by going through these two types of learning objectives first, I was able to answer the "explain" and "understand" type learning objectives quite easily after.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I'd be happy to try to answer them.

Thanks, Justin.

  • 9
Feb 13, 2016 - 3:30pm
Mr.Suave, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As someone who is writing the exam this month I have a few comments and questions

How'd the exam go? Can you provide us with some valuable insights?
Nov 22, 2017 - 11:54am
dvolsche, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My situation is similar to alena113's where I am a recent grad with Economics and Finance. However, I'm currently employed as a sell-side research analyst with a focus on O&G. I've been debating between the ERP and FRM.... I'm having a hard time deciding between the two. Consider doing the ERP for work ( 95% of my peers are engineers or goe's and I was hoping the ERP would give me technical skills I lack) while pursuing the FRM to broadening my long-term career choices. So I was wondering if anyone had both? If so which did they like more? Or just why you chose to go with one over the other?

Feb 16, 2018 - 1:44am
ETRM-Acamdey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The United Nations predicts that the world population will reach 8.5 billion by 2030. Hence, it is vital that we maximize the efficiency of the entire food and energy value chain and minimize wastages. To do so, one requires knowledge of the different commodity and energy value chains and more importantly know how to manage the risks within them. The salaries offered for professionals within this business are comparatively way higher than other industries. The reasons are as follows: 1. Low supply of trade and risk professionals within the industry. Economics 101 – Price is a subject of demand and supply. Hence, when supply is low and demand is high, the price will be _____? We are sure you get this one correct! 2. High entry barriers in the industry. The nature and risks involved in the commodity trading business is so high that only individuals who can demonstrate deep understanding of the business tend to get an entry. We will share with you case examples where one simple mistake has caused the firm billions of dollars of losses. 3. Existing courses are overpriced. Since the salaries offered are so high, colleges can demand substantially higher fees compared to other programs. 4. Lack of good institutions. Several institutes promise to teach you this stuff. We highly recommend you to closely look at their placement records before throwing your money away. 5. Surprisingly, many people find it boring. Several people find the business boring compared to other programs. We respect that, however this reduces the supply of talented individuals. This completes the circle and brings us back to point #1 \

Jul 20, 2018 - 12:18pm
MXJ60606, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi All,

I know this is a bit of a stagnant post, but I wanted to follow up as I've just been learning about the ERP designation. A quick background on me .. I'm on the sell side of listed options, and am looking to make a career change (I'm 39). I am very interested in the trading of physical energy, and BP has a big operation here in Chicago. Of course, I have been trying to network as much as I can .. but was wondering if the ERP designation would be any help for someone like me. I have a lot of experience with markets, derivatives, risk, operations, etc ... but nothing specific to the O&G industry.

My thoughts were that even if the ERP designation is rather unknown among industry people, it would be a good way for me to learn a lot about the business. I would be basically be looking to network/hustle my way in the back door, so I'm trying to find any way to pick up skills that will help me with my goal.

I would appreciate any insight from those of you who are in the industry, or have earned the ERP designation.

Thanks in advance. J

Jun 24, 2019 - 6:44pm
MVW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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