Published On: May 18, 2023
Updated: Sep 11, 2023
Read time : 10 mins
The CSCS black card proves that the cardholder is qualified to take on a managerial position at a construction site.
In this blog, we’ll cover what a CSCS Black Card is, why it holds value in the construction industry, and how you can get one.
Note: If you have previously obtained the CSCS Black Card under the Grandfather Rights scheme, you should still read this post since this scheme will expire on 31st Dec, 2024.
The CSCS Black Card is issued by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), which is a nationally recognised body in the UK. CSCS certifies individuals for their roles and responsibilities at construction sites. Simply put, the card communicates that the holder possesses the appropriate skill set and knowledge to undertake their duties at the workplace.
The CSCS Black Card is one of the many types of CSCS cards. It’s for individuals who aspire to upgrade to a managerial role and oversee operations on the construction site.
You could be a Blue or Gold cardholder, and still make your way up to a Black Card. For that, you must pass a relevant NVQ and the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test for Managers and Professionals (MAP). For a list of NVQs, this page would help.
Now that you know what a CSCS Black Card is. Here’s what you need to do to apply for it:
Obtain a relevant Construction Management/Technical related NVQ/SVQ Level 4, 5, 6, or 7
an SVQ at SCQF Level 10 or 11 in a Construction Management/Technical related qualification
Pass a CITB Health Safety and Environment Test for Managers and Professionals (MAP)
This is a safety assessment that evaluates you on your ability to respond to situations involving chance of loss or injury, as a manager on the site.
Before you decide to book the CITB test, you might want to check out this video. It can give you a good idea of the types of questions they usually ask in the test.
Apply for the CSCS Black Card
No, you won’t be able to get a CSCS card without a relevant NVQ/SVQ. Even years of experience in the industry as a manager wouldn’t help you in this regard, since CSCS has made it mandatory for anyone pursuing the CSCS Black Card to complete the construction management/technical related NVQ level 4 or higher.
You can enrol on the Level 6 NVQ in Construction Site Management with us — this qualification is assessed on-site which means you don’t have to take time off work and you can do it while you’re on the job. The qualification takes between 4-6 months to complete and definitely helps increase job prospects for card holders.
Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is a part of CITB Site Safety Plus (SSP) courses. Although it is very good for managers or individuals pursuing a managerial role to complete the SMSTS course, (and some employers may even make it a mandatory requirement for managers to have) unfortunately, you can not get a CSCS Black Card with just the SMSTS certification.
Previously, CSCS used to issue cards to candidates based on the strength of the employer’s recommendation, but there has been a recent shift in policy. This alternative scheme was called Industry Accreditation or Godfather Rights, and it will expire on 31st December 2024.
“Following the closure of the Construction Related Occupation card and the Construction Site Visitor Card, cards gained by Industry Accreditation are the only cards in the CSCS scheme which do not require the cardholder to achieve a recognised qualification. Industry Accreditation does not support industry’s desire for a fully qualified workforce and as such it will be withdrawn.”
– Graham Wren (Chief Executive at CSCS
If you have obtained a CSCS Black Card through the Godfather Rights Scheme without the relevant NVQ/SVQ, keep in mind that it won’t help you in the long run. The only route that will work, unless CSCS says otherwise, is the process we described above.
To renew your Black Card, you will need to submit the documents listed below to CSCS. Also if you’re interested in a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to do. Then I’d suggest you read this card renewal guide.
1. Renewal Application Form
2. Expired CSCS Black Card
3. Identity proof
4. Qualification proof
5. CITB Test ID Number
6. Employment Details
You have a 12-month window to submit a renewal application, that’s either 6 months prior or after the card’s expiry date.
The CSCS Black Card is one of the highest level of CSCS cards. It shows you’re an experienced site manager and have a recognised qualification to back it up. The colour of the CSCS cards indicates who it’s intended for — for instance, the Green Card suits labourers, the Blue Card is for skilled workers, the Gold Card is for supervisors, and the White Card is best suited for individuals with HNDs, HNCs or degrees. Also, if you temporarily require a CSCS card, to buy you time to complete the qualification, the CSCS Red Card would do.
The time it takes to complete the required training and examinations for a specific CSCS card can vary widely based on the type of card you’re applying for, a CSCS Black Card might take 12-18 months to get, whereas, to get a CSCS Green Card you’ll need to attend a one-day health and safety course, book and pass the CITB Operatives test, and apply for your card, so the entire process for a CSCS Green Card can be completed within a week!
Who is the CSCS Black Card for?
The CSCS Black Card is for experienced construction site managers.
Can I obtain the CSCS Black Card without an NVQ?
Yes, you could get a CSCS Black Card without an NVQ through the Grandfather Rights scheme, but it’ll expire this coming year. And, you’ll have to apply again from scratch. So, it’s better that you sit a relevant NVQ, pass the CITB test and get your CSCS card so you can have it for the next 5 years.
When does the CSCS Black Card expire?
The CSCS Black Card expires in 5 years. For you to continue to perform your duties on site as a manager, you must renew your card.
A CSCS Black Card can put you at the top of employers’ lists, as it shows that you’re serious about your career and have the skills and experience necessary for a managerial role. It’s a valuable asset that can help boost your career in the construction industry.
So what are you waiting for? Start the process today and get your CSCS Black Card!