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How to get a CSCS card: Everything you need to know

CSCS is the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. CSCS cards are something people working in construction are likely to have seen before. The cards can be used to provide proof that people working on construction sites have the appropriate training and qualifications for the job they are doing.

CSCS cards aren’t a legislative requirement but most construction employers want their employees to hold them. There are different cards to cover different jobs.
CSCS is a not-for-profit company governed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

What is a CSCS card?

A CSCS card shows employers running construction sites that you are competent in your job. It’s proof that you hold the correct qualifications and have completed the training you need to work on-site.

CSCS cards come in different colours to show your experience, qualifications and seniority. But what qualifications do you need as a minimum to access the entry-level CSCS Labourer Card?

CSCS card

Can I get a CSCS card without qualifications?

First-time applicants might be concerned if they’ve no experience in the construction industry or academic achievements such as GCSEs and NVQs.

If you want to get a CSCS card you must have passed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) test within the last two years. This is standard with all CSCS cards. 

Applicants must pass this 50-question exam for the applied construction occupation at the appropriate level. It covers five core knowledge areas: environment, general safety, health and welfare, high-risk activities and legal. It’s much like passing a driving theory test.

Applicants must also hold one of the following:

  • An RQF Level 1/SCQF Level 4 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment (this is a lifetime qualification)
  • An SCQF Level 5 REHIS Elementary Health and Safety certificate
  • The NOCN/CSkills Awards Construction Health and Safety (F/618/0738) unit
  • An alternative qualification approved by CSCS. For example, the CITB Health & Safety Awareness course. Other alternative courses currently accepted by CSCSC can be found here.

What about historical qualifications?

If you’ve been out of the construction industry for a while, you might be able to rely on past qualifications to qualify for a CSCS card. You can use the CSCS Card Finder to see if your qualification(s) is still valid and what (if any) CSCS card it makes you eligible for. 

How much does it cost to get a CSCS card?

All CSCS cards cost £36 (as of June 2023), and the separate CITB HS&E test costs £22.50. Other organisations, besides CSCS, offer card application services. If you are charged more than the above prices, check what additional services you’ll receive.

Can I get CSCS card funding?

Whether you’re a fresh face in the construction industry or wish to upskill, the cost of training to gain a qualification can be an obstacle. Thankfully, options are available to assist you with funding.

CITB Levy and Grant System

If you are an employee of a construction firm, ask your employer if it is registered with CITB. You may be able to claim a grant for your training if it is.

Job Centre

Unemployed individuals should speak to a representative or make an appointment with their work coach at a local job centre. They can identify funding streams and training opportunities for accessing construction-related work and the CSCS card.

types of cscs card

Types of CSCS Cards

There are 13 CSCS card types. CSCS cards come in six colours to symbolise the cardholder’s occupation and experience. They assure construction sites you have the right qualifications and can safely perform professional tasks relevant to your CSCS card occupation.

Green CSCS Card

Known as the Labourer card, this is designed for entry-level workers carrying out labour duties such as bricklaying or plumbing. It is the most common type of card and is valid for five years. You cannot currently renew a Labourer card.

Red CSCS Cards

Apprentice – Available to people in the process of completing or who have completed a CSCS-recognised apprenticeship. The Apprentice card is issued free of charge and demonstrates proof you are registered on a valid apprenticeship scheme and have passed the CITB HS&E test (or an approved alternative).

It’s valid for four-and-a-half years and cannot be renewed. You are expected to complete the apprenticeship by the time the card expires.

Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager – A CSCS temporary card specifically for managers, supervisors and technical workers. You must have at least one year’s experience working within one of these roles on a construction site. This usually must have been done within the last three years. This card type is valid for three years and cannot be renewed. Cardholders should work towards an approved construction related to Technical, Supervisory or Management (TSM), NVQ/SVQ Level 3, SVQ at SCQF level 6 or higher. Once the qualification is complete, this card can be upgraded.

Experienced worker – Another temporary card that can’t be renewed. It is only valid for one year. You need a year’s experience in a construction-related role (normally in the past three years) and evidence from your training provider that shows you are registered to complete an approved construction-related NVQ/SVQ level 2, SVQ at SCQF level 5 or higher.

Trainee – A temporary card is available for registered trainees to complete a construction-related qualification. The qualification may be academic, professional or vocational. This card is valid for five years and cannot be renewed. Trainee card applicants must also have passed the Operatives CITB HS & E test within the last two years.

Industry Placement – The Industry Placement card was launched in 2021. It is a temporary card designed for learners undergoing a construction-related qualification or training programme that requires the completion of a work placement. The work placement must be for a minimum of 30 days. This card is valid for three years and cannot be renewed.

Provisional (temporary only) – The Provisional CSCS card is designed for people working through probation while their employer assesses their credentials and suitability for the job. You can only apply for a provisional card if you haven’t held a CSCS card before. This non-renewable card lasts six months and can only be applied for once.

red cscs card

Gold CSCS Cards

Gold Skilled Worker – The Gold Skilled Worker card is authorised for five years and eligible for renewal. It shows you are highly skilled within your field in the construction industry. You can apply for this card if you have either:

  • Achieved a Construction Related NVQ/SVQ level 3 or SVQ at SCQF level 6
  • Fulfilled an approved apprenticeship (e.g. With NJCBI)
  • Completed an employer-sponsored apprenticeship, including attaining a City and Guilds of London Institute Advanced Craft Certificate

Supervisory – Like the Gold Skilled Worker card, the Supervisory card demonstrates you are a skilled worker with higher qualifications. Valid for five years, this card is subject to attaining the following:

  • Construction Related Supervisory/Technical NVQ or SVQ Level 3 or 4 

Blue CSCS Card

Blue Skilled Worker – Valid for five years and eligible for renewal, you can apply for a Blue Skilled Worker card if you have either:

  • Achieved a constructed related NVQ/SVQ level 2 or SVQ at SCQF level or
  • Completed an apprenticeship. For example, an employer-sponsored apprenticeship.

If you don’t have either of these qualifications, you can apply for an Experienced Worker card. However, you must be experienced in your role and have registered for a qualification pertinent to your occupation.

Black CSCS Card

Manager – The highest available CSCS card is designed for managers and technical occupations. Valid for five years and eligible for renewal, this advanced level card requires both:

  • Achievement of a relevant Construction Management/Technical related NVQ/SVQ level 4, 5, 6, or  and
  • an SVQ at SCQF Level 10 or 11 in Construction Management/Technical related qualification

All applicants must also have passed the CITB Managers and Professionals HS&E Test within the past two years.

White CSCS Cards

Academically Qualified Person (AQP) – The AQP card is for individuals with qualifications other than NVQs. For example, you may hold a construction-related degree or CIOB certificate. This card is valid for five years and can be renewed. Applicants must also have passed the CITB Managers and Professionals HS&E Test within the last two years.

Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) – The PQP card is for professionals like architects and surveyors who are required to visit a construction site occasionally. They don’t necessarily work on one or require to be there regularly. This card proves they are qualified professionals and safe to visit construction sites. The PQP card is valid for five years and is possible to renew. Applicants must have passed the CITB Managers and Professionals HS&E test in the last two years.

How to apply for a CSCS card

The online CSCS card application service is available all year round. Applying is a quick and easy process. Before you apply, ensure you have the following:

  • A scanned copy of your qualification certificate, or evidence you are registered to complete a recognised construction-related qualification relevant to your occupation.
  • Your test ID number from your CITB HS&E test. This is located at the top of your pass certificate.
  • A credit or debit card to pay the £36 application fee.

When you take the HS&E test, profile pictures are taken. Should your application be given the all-clear, these are used on your CSCS card.

How long does it take to get a CSCS card?

Once you’ve paid for your CSCS card, it will be posted to you the next working day. You should then get it within 3-5 days. Digital copies are also available straight after payment via the My CSCS app.

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