Sept 05, 2023
Read time : 22 mins
If you’re someone who works in construction or related industries in the UK, you’ve probably heard of the CSCS card. However, with so many different types of CSCS cards and application processes, it can all seem a bit overwhelming at first. This blog will provide you with all the information you need to know about the CSCS Card and how to get one.
In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about the CSCS card test, eligibility criteria, types of qualifications accepted for the CSCS card, the application process, CSCS card renewal and expiry, and much more.
In this section, you will develop a basic understanding of the CSCS card.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card is an important certification for employees working in the UK’s construction industry. The CSCS card acts as proof that the person holding it has gained the knowledge, qualifications, and training required to perform their role safely and efficiently. These cards are widely recognised across the construction industry in the UK and are commonly required by contractors or employers when hiring workers for construction projects.
The card is available in various colours, each representing a different level of skill and experience. To get a CSCS card, candidates must pass some tests and provide proof of their qualifications and training in their specific role. The CSCS scheme aims to improve standards and reduce accidents and injuries in the construction industry by ensuring that all workers have the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their jobs safely. Therefore, holding a CSCS card is a valuable asset for anyone working within the construction industry, as it demonstrates their commitment to safety and professionalism.
Although it is not a legal requirement for employees to possess CSCS cards to gain access to construction sites, major contractors are increasingly making it a common requirement, as it serves as proof of their proficiency as construction workers. That’s why it’s often listed as a key requirement in construction-related job advertisements. This makes it beneficial for you to have a CSCS card if you intend to work in the construction industry, as it will improve your job prospects.
As the construction industry has become more regulated, many contractors and employers now require employees to hold a CSCS card. Therefore, the CSCS card helps you enhance your professional profile, making you more eligible to get a job. And so, without a CSCS card, you may be limited in the number of job opportunities available to you.
Furthermore, a CSCS card is designed to promote safety on construction sites. A CSCS card helps employers ensure that every worker on the site has gained knowledge and training in health and safety.
There are numerous types of CSCS cards, each designed to certify the skills and qualifications of employees in different sectors of the construction industry. The type of card that you should get depends greatly on your job role and level of experience. If you’re wondering which card type is right for you, you can read our detailed guide on CSCS Card Types.
There’s a CSCS card for every level and every profession. Here’s a list of CSCS cards:
A CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card is provided by CSCS Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with the construction industry to improve health and safety standards and certify the skills and qualifications of workers.
CSCS Ltd is a joint venture between the Construction Skills Certification Scheme Industry Board (CSCSIB) and Construction Industry Council (CIC). They are responsible for setting the standards for competency and issuing CSCS cards to those who meet the requirements.
Once you have the correct qualifications for your desired CSCS card, you are required to pass the relevant CITB Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) test. There are different types of CSCS Card tests and you must pass the correct test based on the CSCS card you are applying for.
The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test is a computer-based test with multiple-choice questions that evaluate the candidate’s knowledge related to health, safety, and environmental concerns in construction. Its primary objective is to assess a candidate’s understanding of critical safety measures in a construction setting while also improving their comprehension of the essential elements that contribute to an efficient and successful construction site.
The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test is valid for two years; if you haven’t applied for a CSCS card within two years, you will have to retake the test.
As of August 2023, The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test costs £22.50.
There are two ways to book your CITB HS&E test: through the online booking system or by phone. To book online, you will need to visit the CSCS’s official website and can easily book and pay for the test online. There, you can also locate the nearest test centre and choose the best-suited time slot for you. The second option is to call CSCS on 0344 994 477 and one of their agents will book your test for you over the phone.
Below are some scenarios where you may get an exemption from taking a CITB HS&E test.
1. SOLAS Card
If you have obtained a SOLAS Safe Pass Registration Card by completing the SOLAS Safety Awareness Training Programme within the last two years, it’s not mandatory for you to take the CITB HS&E Test when applying for a CSCS card. However, this exemption does not apply if you are applying for a CSCS card that requires you to complete the Supervisor or Manager and Professional (MAP) level CITB HS&E test.
2. Undertaking an Apprenticeship
While applying for a CSCS card, if you’re pursuing a relevant apprenticeship and meet all the health and safety prerequisites for your course, you may get an exemption from taking the CITB HS&E test. However, for that, you must have:
If you’re in an apprenticeship and believe you might be exempt from taking the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test, it is advisable to contact CSCS for clarification on whether you need to take the test or not.
The CSCS card is required for all workers who are working or wish to work on a construction site in the UK. The list of workers may include:
These are just a few examples, but in general, anyone who works on a construction site and has contact with other workers, visitors, or members of the public is likely to require a CSCS card.
There are different types of CSCS cards each with its own requirements. Typically, you need to obtain the relevant qualification and pass the relevant CITB test. Learn about the requirements for different CSCS cards in our detailed guide on CSCS card Types.
There are different qualifications accepted by CSCS depending on the CSCS card type you are applying for. Generally, CSCS accepts Vocational Qualifications and Academic Qualifications. Let’s discuss these qualifications in detail below.
To get a CSCS card, it’s not mandatory to have GCSEs or A-Level qualifications, however, NVQs are accepted. Other than NVQs, there are also other vocational qualifications accepted by CSCS.
If you have successfully completed an apprenticeship that has been approved by a body like NJCBI or BATJIC, or an apprenticeship sponsored by an employer that required obtaining an Advanced Craft Certificate from the City of Guilds of London Institute, you can provide this as proof of your qualification when applying for a CSCS card. Having completed an apprenticeship, you can apply for either the Blue Skilled CSCS Card or the White Advanced Craft Card CSCS Card.
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
An NVQ qualification is another route to get into the construction industry. CSCS acknowledges NVQs related to the construction industry as valid qualifications for obtaining a CSCS card. An NVQ is a certified qualification specific to an industry or sector, which teaches practical tasks relevant to the job. It aims to develop job-specific skills required for the field.
Unlike most qualifications that rely on exams, NVQs are evaluated on the basis of practical assignments and portfolios of evidence that students gather throughout the course. An assessor will endorse you for specific NVQ levels if they determine that you have achieved the required standards.
CSCS also accepts academic qualifications for giving you an AQP Card and a CSCS card. Let’s learn more about these qualifications below.
Undergraduate/Postgraduate Degree Certificates
The academic qualifications include a bachelor’s at the undergraduate level and a master’s and doctorates at the postgraduate level. Before applying for the AQP Card, it is essential to confirm if your degree qualification is accepted by CSCS, as they do not accept all degrees. If your degree qualification is not listed among the approved qualifications, it is recommended to contact CSCS and seek advice on what steps to take next.
Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) / Higher National Certificates (HNCs)
Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) / Higher National Certificates (HNCs) are educational credentials that have a strong focus on vocational or work-related education. A HND corresponds to a Level 5 certification, whereas a HNC corresponds to a Level 4 certification, Both further and higher education institutions offer these qualifications, which emphasise hands-on, practical learning.
If taken on a full-time basis, a HND requires two years and a HNC requires one year. These programs can also be taken part-time. The qualifications are evaluated based on assignments, projects, and practical tasks performed throughout the specified duration of the course. If an individual applies for an Academically Qualified Person Card, HNCs and HNDs in construction-related fields will be taken into consideration.
Can a Professional Body Membership be Used as Evidence?
As CSCS accepts membership from certain professional bodies, they can be used as evidence. The Professional Body Membership acts as proof of qualifications for access to the Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) Card. These bodies have their own assessment procedures for membership and their standard is acceptable for getting a CSCS card.
To apply for the Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card, you need to provide a membership certificate, a photo of your membership card, or an up-to-date confirmation of membership from the professional body.
What About Historical Qualifications?
If you have been away from the construction industry for some time and your qualification is not listed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot get a CSCS card. Instead, you will need to speak with CSCS to determine if your previous qualifications make you eligible for a card. In this situation, you can contact CSCS on 0344 994 4777 to discuss your situation with them.
You can apply for an entry-level CSCS Labourer Card if you have no prior qualifications. In this section, we will look at the several health and safety qualifications recognised by CSCS to get a CSCS Green Labourer Card.
1. Level 1 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment Course
This qualification is open to individuals who have no previous experience in the construction sector. So anyone who wishes to begin a career in construction can go for this qualification. It’s a basic and easy training program designed specifically for people with close to zero experience.
The course content provides extensive knowledge on how to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. It covers the legal obligations of a construction site and emphasises the significance of health and safety measures in a construction environment.
This qualification is a route to get a CSCS Labourer Card with no prior experience or qualification. In addition to this qualification, you will need to pass the CITB HS&E test before applying for the CSCS Labourer Card.
As this qualification has no expiry date it is the most preferred option when applying for a CSCS Labourer Card.
2. Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness Course
Another way of obtaining the CSCS Labourer Card is by completing the Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness. It’s a one-day classroom-based course which covers various health and safety aspects of a construction site. The course includes various health and safety aspects of a construction site, including personal responsibilities for safety, safety procedures for working at height, legal obligations, manual handling, equipment handling, identifying and preventing common construction hazards, fire prevention, and occupational health.
To get a certificate, you must pass an exam with at least 20 correct answers out of 25 multiple-choice questions.
3. DSA Health And Safety Awareness Course
Another route to getting a CSCS Green Card is a DSA Health and Safety Awareness course offered by the Drilling and Sawing Association. It’s valid for three years.
As this is a basic level course, it covers essential topics related to health and safety. Primarily, it enables learners to understand safe working practices in the construction industry. This course assesses learners through a blend of practical assessments and a test paper.
4. IOSH Working Safely Course
This course covers important health and safety measures within the workplace. CSCS no longer accepts IOSH Working Safely certificates if obtained via an online course. They will only accept a face-to-face IOSH qualification. At the end of the course, you will have to complete a multiple-choice examination and a hazard awareness exam.
This is another route in getting a CSCS Labourer Card and starting to work in the construction industry. The course covers important topics related to health and safety measures within the workplace. Over time, CSCS has updated the requirements of different qualifications and for IOSH qualification, it is now mandatory to have a face-to-face or in-class education. Previously, you could obtain IOSH Working Safely certificates by opting for an online course, but CSCS no longer accepts them.
Once you complete the course, you will have to pass a multiple-choice assessment and a hazard awareness exam.
5. Priestman Associates Principles of Construction Site Health and Safety Course
For beginners, labourers, and apprentices in the construction industry, there’s a 5-day course offered by Priestman Associates that helps learners understand the essentials of health and safety. CSCS accepts this qualification and you can use it to apply for the CSCS Labourer Card.
6. JTJ Introduction To Construction Course
Another way to secure the CSCS Labourer Card is to take a JTJ Introduction to Construction Course Certificate. If you have a valid certificate, you can apply for the CSCS Labourer Card as it is acceptable by CSCS.
In case you’re unable to cover the expenses of acquiring a training certification due to your financial situation, there are some funding alternatives that you can consider. Let’s check out the following options that can assist you with funding:
The CITB Levy and Grant System
This system provides grants to individuals who are employed by a construction company paying the construction industry training levy. If you qualify, this system can help you obtain the required qualifications to obtain a CSCS card.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)
LEPs work in collaboration with local authorities and businesses to stimulate economic growth and create employment opportunities within a particular region. If you’re seeking local funding for job-specific training, LEPs are an excellent resource to explore.
Another way to discover training opportunities and funding options for construction-related jobs and the CSCS card is to speak with a representative at your local Job Centre or one-stop shop. They can guide you to the appropriate sources to apply for funding grants to pursue your desired construction qualification.
The Application Process
Applying for the CSCS card is simple and straightforward. You can either apply for a CSCS card as an individual or as an employer. Let’s check out both routes.
Applying for A CSCS Card As An Individual
To apply for a CSCS card as an individual, the most efficient method is to contact CSCS at 0344 994 4777. During your phone call, they will request payment of the £36 card fee, so please have your credit or debit card ready.
But before you call them make sure you’ve done the following:
After collecting all the required information, you may contact CSCS to complete the payment process for your card. Subsequently, your card will be sent to you by post. It’s important to note that CSCS does not accept postal applications anymore.
Employers now have the option to apply for CSCS cards for their employees, which has been simplified by the introduction of an online application form.
Applying for two or more employees: If an employer is seeking to apply for CSCS cards for two or more employees, they must complete an online form. CSCS will contact the individual named on the form to arrange payment for the specified number of employees.
Applying for a single employee: Being an employer, if you require a CSCS card for a single employee, a similar process will be followed. The employee’s relevant qualifications must be submitted to [email protected] via email. Once the necessary information has been provided, you can contact CSCS by calling 0344 994 4777 to complete the rest of the process, including payment for the CSCS card.
In addition, employers who are applying on behalf of their employees must also book the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test for their staff.
When your application has been approved, your CSCS card will be posted out to you the next working day. Most cards arrive at their requested destination within 3-5 days of application approval. If your card does not arrive within 10 days then please contact CSCS.
The processing time for a CSCS card depends on the type of card you have applied for. Also, it depends on the volume of applications being processed at the time of your application. Make sure you keep track of your application. You can contact CSCS via phone or a website regarding your application status.
Occasionally, CSCS may reject an application for a CSCS card. The reasons behind the cancellation of an application could include not providing proper documentation in the application or the applicant lacking the required qualifications for the card they have applied for.
If your application or inquiry has been declined and you disagree with the given reason, or if you have unique circumstances that should be considered, you have the option to appeal to the CSCS Appeals Panel.
Please be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure that all required appeal documents are provided and up-to-date. Any documents that were not initially included will not be taken into consideration.
In this section, we will discuss more queries about CSCS cards.
There are several ways to check the validity of your CSCS card.
CSCS Smart Check App
This app aims to improve the CSCS card-checking process and combat fraudulent activity related to card ownership in the construction industry. On this CSCS card checker app, you can check the 38 card schemes with the CSCS logo on them.
With the implementation of this system, organisations and their on-site card checkers now have a fast, effortless, and secure method to verify that all individuals on a site possess the necessary qualifications and training required for their job. The app checks both, your physical and virtual CSCS cards using either Manual, QR codes, or Contactless Input.
Access Your CSCS Online Account
If you want to check if a CSCS card is valid, the most convenient method for individuals or employers is to use their CSCS Online account. All you have to do is simply log in to view the current status of your cards. After logging in, you can authenticate the cardholder’s qualifications and training, and then determine whether the card is valid or has expired.
Call the contact centre
If you are reluctant to follow any of the above ways to check the validity of your CSCS card, you can call CSCS on 0344 994 4777 on any weekday (excluding bank holidays) from 8 am to 6 pm.
Virtual CSCS Cards
Once your application is approved, and payment has been taken, your virtual CSCS card will appear in the app called “my CSCS”. The virtual card is similar to your physical CSCS card but is stored on your phone instead of being carried around in your pocket. However, you can use the virtual card in the same way as the physical card.
The virtual cards are extremely beneficial as they display your photograph, occupation, card expiration date, training, and qualifications, making it simple for employers to verify your credentials. Moreover, it makes it easier for you to keep your CSCS card with you all the time. Site managers can use the CSCS Smart Check app on their smartphones or tablets to digitally verify the information stored on the virtual card.
The official CSCS app is called “My CSCS” which allows for easy access and use of your virtual CSCS card on construction sites in the UK. With 24/7 availability, you can access the information you need whenever you need it!
Hopefully, this blog has provided you with valuable information about CSCS Cards and the process of getting one. Whether you’re a construction worker, contractor, or employer, possessing a CSCS Card is vital for ensuring a safe and productive working environment. From understanding the eligibility criteria to the application process and renewal procedures, we have covered all the essential aspects of the CSCS Card.
If you don’t have a CSCS card yet and are thinking about working in the construction industry, I encourage you to get one as soon as possible. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to advance your career and contribute to a safer and more efficient construction industry. Thank you for reading, and we wish you all the best in your career in the construction industry.