How to Become a NERC-Certified Power Systems Operator

Posted On: March 1, 2018
NERC Certification Exam Prep FAQ

Dependable power production relies on the regulation of bulk power systems. It is a critical responsibility as a disruption can affect many locations and customers. The bulk-power system is an interconnected electric energy transmission network that provides electric energy from generation facilities maintaining transmission system reliability. Reliable power production is achieved through enforcement of standards and the certification of system operators. 

What Is NERC?

NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) monitors, regulates, and implements compliance policies for power system operators in the U.S. and Canada. NERC promotes safe power systems through reliability standards, the widely accepted regulatory standards for bulk-power system operators, owners, and workers. NERC uses these standards for audits ensuring efficient, safe, and reliable power sources for households and business operations.

NERC Standards Compliance

NERC compliance ensures safety and efficiency in all generation and distribution companies through standards compliance, including:

  1. Power plant monitoring
  2. Standards enforcement
  3. Registration and recognition of power system operators
  4. Certification of compliant power plants and companies
  5. Regional compliance and monitoring of certified power plant companies

NERC Power System Operator Certification

System operators work in power plant control rooms handling the bulk power system during normal and emergency operations.  NERC’s System Operator Certification Program seeks to ensure system operators meet minimum qualifications. To earn certification, an operator passes an exam and completes NERC‐approved continuing education every three years.

NERC System Operator Certification Exam


Operators’ qualification is determined by testing their specific knowledge of job skills and Reliability Standards. NERC’s system operator certification exam is based on job analysis surveys of certified operators across the industry. There are four exams:

  1. Reliability Exam: 120 scored questions
  2. Balancing, Interchange, and Transmission Exam: 120 scored questions
  3. Transmission Exam: 100 scored questions
  4. Balancing Exam: 100 scored questions

Power System Operator Certification Exam Content

NERC provides exam content outlines listing the subjects tested and the number of questions asked. Each exam will test the following major knowledge areas:

  • Resource and Demand Balancing
  • Transmission
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Emergency Response
  • Contingency Analysis and Reliability
  • Communications and Data

Each knowledge area contains three to five sub-topics.

Preparing for the NERC Certification Exam

Certification applicants need a solid foundation in basic electricity, as well as familiarization with system operations and NERC Standards. NERC recommends that the NERC certification exam content outlines be used in conjunction with NERC Reliability Standards and power system operation reference books and materials. To prepare to take the certification exam, operators are wise to sign up for a NERC certification exam prep program covering the major subjects tested in the four NERC exams. For example, the NERC Certification Exam Training packages include a three–part review on system operations and a NERC Certification exam preparation that counts as both completion exam and eight CE hours:

  • Module 1: Power Generation, Transmission, and Interchange
  • Module 2: System Protection and Control
  • Module 3: System Operations and PSR
  • Module 4: Practice Exam offers four packages, each including a practice exam for one of the four NRC exams. The best way to refresh your knowledge of NERC standards and effectively prepare for the exam is with online training from With convenient on-demand NERC continuing education and exam preps you get fast, easy completion, no classroom attendance required, and unlimited 24x7 online customer support. Choose the experienced, trusted e-learning provider that’s helped over 500,000 people get certified nationwide. Enroll today!  

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