CSCS Card

Contents

CSCS Card: Everything you need to know to apply

If you are a construction worker or are looking to work in construction you will certainly have heard of a CSCS card. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is intended to keep both construction workers and construction sites in the UK safe as well as assisting with the effective running of such sites.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the CSCS card, how you apply for it and what to expect from the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test, also known as the CSCS Test. Once you have an understanding of what the CSCS card is and what type of card you need, it is straightforward to apply for the CSCS card yourself.

What is a CSCS card?

The CSCS card is available for construction workers in the UK and is a means of showing employers running construction sites that an individual has the correct qualifications and training in order to undertake the job. The card is a means of ensuring that construction sites in the UK are safe places to work and that a high standard is maintained.

As a construction worker, you will find that most contractors and building companies will require you to have the appropriate CSCS card before allowing you on site and it will often be a prerequisite for you getting the job. However, currently it is not a legislative requirement for construction workers to hold a CSCS card and it is up to the discretion of building contractors as to whether they require workers to hold a card or not.

Who provides the CSCS card?

The CSCS card is provided by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), a not-for-profit company that was set up by the government with the intention of reducing accidents on construction sites, improving the skills of construction workers and ensure they have adequate training for the job, and overall, building the reputation of the UK’s construction industry as a world leader in the field.

Those running the CSCS scheme are made up of directors from construction organisations as well as union representatives from the industry. The CSCS scheme is supported by the Construction Leaders Council (CLC) who specified in 2015 that only cards affiliated with the CSCS scheme should be accepted by employers in the construction industry. Known as the One Industry Logo initiative, card schemes are required to meet a certain set of requirements in order to display the CSCS logo on their card. The One Industry Logo intends to provide an agreed set of standards across the board for employers so that if workers hold a CSCS card they can instantly recognise what skill set and qualifications they have and allocate workers to an appropriate role.

Do I need a CSCS Card?

While CSCS cards are not a legal requirement and employers and contractors are not legally bound to insist on an employee to have one to access the site, they are becoming a commonplace requirement among major contractors.

It is, therefore, in your interests to have a CSCS card if you want to work in construction as it will open up more employment opportunities. A CSCS card is evidence of your competence as a construction worker to potential employers and you will notice that the majority of job advertisements state that being in a possession of CSCS card is a key requirement.

How long does a CSCS card last?

A CSCS card lasts for five years, after which time it will need to be renewed. If, after five years, you are at the same level as the card you have then the renewal process is straightforward and you will just need a replacement card. If your occupation or skill level has changed since applying for your last card you will be required to provide the appropriate evidence of your qualifications in order to qualify for a different CSCS card.

How can I apply for a CSCS card?

There are different types of CSCS card available so before starting the application process you must decide which card suits your occupation and the qualifications that you hold. Please see our comprehensive guide on CSCS Card Types which explains each of the different cards and how to select the correct card to apply for.

What are the different types of CSCS card?

There are different types of CSCS cards which cover the various occupations in the construction industry and the skill levels within those occupations. The entry-level card is known as the Labourer card which, while requiring minimal qualifications, still requires evidence that a worker meets a certain set of standards.

What is the application process for the CSCS card?

Applying for the CSCS card is straightforward and can be done via two routes: either as an individual or as an employer. We will now examine each of these routes.

Applying for a CSCS card as an individual

If you are applying for a CSCS card as an individual, the quickest way to apply is to call CSCS on 0344 994 4777. They will ask you to pay the card fee of £36 during the phone call so make sure you have your credit or debit card to hand.

Before reaching this stage, however, there are a few pieces of information you need to gather which the CSCS will ask for before processing your application:

  1. Gather your evidence: Once you have worked out which card you are applying for (after looking at the CSCS Card Types article) you will need to provide evidence of the qualifications needed in order to qualify for that card. You will need to provide evidence that you have achieved the appropriate nationally recognised construction-related qualification, or  that you are in the process of achieving this qualification.
  2. E-mail your evidence: When you have gathered evidence of your qualifications you then need to e-mail this to cscs@citb.co.uk
  3. Pass the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (CSCS Test): In order to get a CSCS card you need to have passed the appropriate CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test within (CSCS Test) the last 2 years.

Once you have gathered all of the necessary information you can call CSCS and make the payment for the card. You will then be sent your card in the post. Unfortunately, CSCS no longer accepts postal applications and they do not offer refunds.

We will explain the type of accepted qualifications in more detail on the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test later in this article.

Applying for CSCS cards as an employer

Employers can apply for a CSCS card on their employees’ behalf. This process has been simplified recently thanks to the online application form that employers can now complete. If employers are applying for a CSCS card for two or more employees, they are now required to complete this online form. Once an employer has completed the online form, the named individual on that form will be contacted to collect the payment for the number of employees the application is for.

If you are an employer and wish to apply for a CSCS card for a single employee you will need to follow a similar process to the individual applications above. The relevant qualifications of your employee will need to be e-mailed to cscs@citb.co.uk and you will need to call 0344 994 4777 in order to pay for the CSCS card and progress the application.

As an employer applying on behalf of your employees, you will also be required to book them onto the CITB Health, Safety Environment Test which can be done on the CSCS website. You can also do this via the booking line on 0344 994 4488.

How long does it take for the CSCS card to be processed?

You should receive your CSCS card in the post within 20 days of submitting your application. During this time, the CSCS may contact you if they require further information or clarification regarding your application. If you have not received your card within 5 weeks of submitting your application you should contact CSCS directly to enquire about the delay.

It is important to keep track of your application; if you haven’t completed your application within 90 days after having started it, the application will be closed and you will be required to pay another £36 to start a new one.

What qualifications do I need?

Below we will discuss the wide range of qualifications that are accepted by CSCS. The type of card you can apply for will depend on what qualifications you have. The type of qualifications needed for each card type is discussed in more detail in our CSCS Card Types article.

What Vocational Qualifications are accepted?

In order to qualify for a CSCS card, you do not need to have GCSEs or A-Level qualifications. NVQs are an accepted qualification although they are by no means the only form of vocational qualification accepted by CSCS. Obtaining a CSCS card is, therefore, an accessible route into the construction industry even if you do not have the standard school qualifications.

1. Apprenticeships

If you have completed an approved apprenticeship (e.g. with a body such as NJCBI or BATJIC) or an employer sponsored apprenticeship which included the achievement of a City of Guilds of London Institute Advanced Craft Certificate, then you can use this as evidence of your qualification in an application for a CSCS card. With an apprenticeship qualification, you will be eligible to apply for the Skilled Card or Advanced Craft Card.

2. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

The CSCS accept construction-related NVQs for a CSCS card application. An NVQ is a recognised qualification that is related to a particular industry or sector where an individual learns practical, work-related tasks in order to develop the necessary skills for a particular job in that field.

Instead of being exam based like many qualifications, an NVQ is assessed on practical assignments and on a portfolio of evidence that you put together throughout your course. An assessor will sign you off specific levels of the NVQ course if they believe you have met the necessary standards.

If you have a Level 2 NVQ that is construction-related, you can apply for blue skilled CSCS cards. With Level 3 NVQs in the construction field, an applicant may be eligible for gold CSCS cards. Black card applicants are required to have Level 5, 6 and 7 NVQs in a construction management qualification.

An NVQ qualification, therefore, is a good route into the construction industry and will provide you with the evidence you need to access a CSCS card. The type of CSCS card you can access will depend on the level of your NVQ.

What Academic Qualifications are accepted?

If you have a relevant academic qualification you may be eligible to apply for the Academically Qualified Person (AQP) Card. The CSCS will accept a construction-related Higher National Certificate/Diploma or Undergraduate/Postgraduate degree if it is approved by them. In this next section, we will explain each of these qualifications in more detail.

1. Undergraduate/Postgraduate Degree Certificates

An undergraduate or postgraduate degree is awarded by a university body and takes between three and five years to complete. This includes bachelor’s at undergraduate level, and master’s and doctorates at postgraduate level. Not all degrees are accepted by the CSCS so you need to check to see if yours is an accepted qualification before applying for the AQP card. There is a search tool on the CSCS website which allows you to do this. If your degree qualification is not listed on the approved list of qualifications then it is worth giving CSCS a call to see if they can offer any advice on next steps.

2. Higher National Certificates (HNCs)/Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are higher education qualifications that are either vocational or work-related in their content. An HNC amounts to a Level 4 qualification and HND a Level 5 qualification. These are practical qualifications with a focus on ‘learning by doing’ and are provided by both further and higher education colleges.

It takes one year to complete an HNC and two years to complete an HND if undertaking these on a full-time basis. Both qualifications can also be undertaken part-time. These qualifications are assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks that are undertaken throughout the course. HNCs and HNDs related to the subject of construction will be considered in an application for an Academically Qualified Person Card. Accepted HNCs and HNDs can be searched for using the search tool on the CSCS website.

Can Professional Body Membership be used as evidence?

As professional bodies have assessment procedures as part of their access criteria for membership (which involves submitting evidence of qualifications etc.) the CSCS accepts membership of specific professional bodies as the equivalent to submitting evidence regarding qualifications. Being a member of an approved professional body will allow you to access the Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card if you can provide either a membership certificate, photograph of both sides of your membership card, or an up-to-date email or letter from the professional body confirming your membership.

You can find out if the professional body you are a member of is accepted for a PQP card using the search tool on the CSCS website. If your professional body is not listed in the search tool then get in touch with CSCS to see what they advise regarding your application.

What about Historical Qualifications?

It may be that you have been out of the construction industry for a while and the qualification you have is not listed. This does not necessarily mean that you will not qualify for the CSCS card, rather that your application process will require a conversation with the CSCS to see if your historical qualifications make you eligible for a CSCS card and which card you should apply for. If this is your situation, give CSCS a call on 0344 994 4777 to discuss this with them.

How do I get a CSCS card if I do not have any qualifications?

If you do not have any qualifications, it may seem like obtaining a CSCS card in order to get a job in construction is impossible. Fortunately, this is certainly not the case and there are a few routes which you can take in order to access the entry-level CSCS Labourer Card. In this next section, we will explain the health and safety qualifications that you can obtain which are recognised by CSCS.

1. Level 1 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment

This qualification is available to individuals with no prior knowledge of working in the construction industry and is an easy to understand training course that is designed to be accessible to those coming from a diverse range of education and employment backgrounds.

The Health and Safety in a Construction Environment qualification covers comprehensive information about maintaining health and safety at work. It covers the legal responsibilities of a construction site and explains why strict health and safety measures are so important. You will also learn about protective equipment that should be worn in a construction environment and information about accident reporting, and what to do in an emergency within a construction site.

The training course can be undertaken at an approved centre and the course should take between 6 and 40 hours depending on the existing skill set of the learner. You will then be required to complete an examination (usually undertaken online) and to secure a pass you will need to achieve at least 32 correct answers out of 40. To find approved training centres that deliver this training course see the CSCS website. The training centres will be able to give you an idea of prices and timescales for completing the qualification.

2. A valid one day Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness Certificate

The Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness Certificate is attainable via a one day classroom-based course and is another route to accessing the CSCS Labourer Card. This course covers health and safety considerations on a construction site including: personal duties for your own and others safety, common construction hazards and how to prevent them, legal requirements and liabilities, safety measures for working at height, manual handling, fire prevention, work equipment, and occupational health.

At the end of the course, you will be required to complete an exam which consists of 25 multiple choice questions. In order to receive the certification, you will need to answer at least 20 of the answers correctly. The CSCS website has a list of registered training providers that provide this qualification.

3. IOSH Working Safely Course Certificate

This course covers important health and safety measures within the workplace. CSCS no longer accept IOSH Working Safely certificates if they have been obtained via an online course and will only accept a face-to-face IOSH qualification. At the end of the course, you will be required to complete a multiple-choice examination and a hazard awareness exam.

4. A valid JTJ Introduction to Construction Course Certificate

If you have undertaken an introduction to construction course certificate with JTJ, and it is still valid, this will be accepted as evidence as a step towards securing the CSCS Labourer Card.

5. A valid Priestman Associates Principles of Construction Site Health and Safety Course Certificate

Priestman Associates offer a 1- 5 day course which covers health and safety essentials on a construction site for new-starters, apprentices and labourers in the construction industry. This qualification is accepted by CSCS as a means of applying for the green Labourer Card. It is more likely that you would receive this training as part of your employment as a construction worker rather than undertaking this training as an individual.

6. HABC Level 1 Award in Health and Safety for Construction Certificate

The HABC Level 1 Award in Health and Safety for Construction Certificate is a one day course and is designed for those who are at entry-level in the construction industry. It covers safe working practices as well as common hazards that workers need to be aware of.

7. A valid DSA Health and Safety Awareness Course Certificate

The Drilling and Sawing Association offer a one day health and safety awareness course covering safe working practices in the construction industry. Assessment is via a test paper as well as a practical assessment. The course certificate is valid for 3 years.

In addition to obtaining one of the above health and safety in construction certifications, you will also be required to complete the CITB Operatives Health, Safety and Environment test in order to be eligible for a Labourer Card. We will explain this test in more detail later in this article.

Is there any financial assistance available for construction-related qualifications?

If your financial circumstances are such that you can’t afford the cost of obtaining a training qualification, there are some options available which can you assist you with funding:

The CITB Levy and Grant System

If you are already employed by a construction firm, and they pay the construction industry training levy, you may be eligible to claim a grant for your training from The CITB Levy and Grant System that can assist with obtaining the necessary qualifications to obtain a CSCS card.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are partnerships between local businesses and local authorities that have been created in order to facilitate job creation and economic growth within a specific area. These are a good place to start when looking for local funding for job-related training in your area. Click here for more details.

Job Centre

Speaking to a representative at your local Job Centre or One-Stop-Shop is also a way of helping you to identify training opportunities and funding streams related to accessing construction-related work and the CSCS card. They will be able to point you in the right direction as to where to apply for funding grants for your chosen construction qualification.

What is the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test?

In addition to having the correct qualifications required for a CSCS card, you must also have passed the relevant version of the CITB Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) test, commonly known as the CSCS Test, appropriate to the CSCS card you are applying for. There are different tests for different occupations/level of CSCS card – you can find out which test you need to take by using the CSCS Card Finder tool.

The CSCS test itself consists of multiple-choice questions related to the health, safety and environmental issues in construction. It assesses knowledge on a wide range of topics with the intention of ensuring an individual is aware of important safety features on a construction site, as well as aiming to improve knowledge of what makes a productive and effective construction site. Usually, the test is taken on a computer using a touch screen.

The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test costs £21 to take and the accreditation lasts for two years.

How do I book the CITB HSE Test?

The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test can be booked via the online booking system on the CSCS website. Here you will be able to locate the nearest test centre to you and book a slot at a convenient time. If you prefer, you can call the booking line on 0344 994 4492 to book your test or to discuss accessibility requirements.

If you’re an employer and want your employees to take the test, you can arrange for a mobile testing unit to come to your workplace if you have at least 16 employees that need to undertake the test simultaneously. This can save time and travel costs if numerous employees need to take the test. To arrange this, you will need to call the booking line number mentioned above.

How do I prepare for the CITB HSE Test?

Our website has all the material you need in order to prepare for the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test. Click here to sign up for an account.

Are there any exemptions to taking a CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test?

You may be exempt from taking the CSCS test in the following scenarios:

1. SOLAS card

If you have completed the SOLAS Safety Awareness Training Programme and have been issued with a SOLAS Safe Pass Registration Card, you are not required to take the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test as long as you have completed this within the last 2 years when applying for a CSCS Card. However, if you are applying for a CSCS card that requires you to complete the Supervisor or Manager and Professional (MAP) level CITB Health, Safety and Environment tests then this exemption does not apply.

2. Undertaking an Apprenticeship

If you are undertaking a relevant apprenticeship and have completed the health and safety requirements of your apprenticeship course within the last 2 years when applying for your CSCS card then you may be exempt from taking the test if you have:

  • a letter from the managing agency of your apprenticeship stating that you have met their health and safety requirements.
  • a one day Health and Safety Awareness course certificate.
  • evidence of a Health and Safety module as part of your apprenticeship qualification.

It is worth contacting the CSCS if you are undertaking an apprenticeship and think you may be exempt from taking the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test to clarify whether you need to take this test or not.

Your rights with a CSCS card

CSCS cards have been introduced to ensure that all staff on a construction site have the appropriate qualifications and training to undertake the work they have been tasked with, ensuring the safety of all those working within these environments. Due to the importance of acquiring a CSCS card for construction workers, the CSCS aim to make the process of applying for a card as straightforward and affordable as possible. You should apply for the card directly through the CSCS website and avoid using third-party companies. The card itself costs £36 and the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test costs £21. If a third-party company is charging more than these prices, make sure you check what the additional services they are offering are and whether it is worth the money

Something else to watch out for which has been reported by construction workers is a ‘CITB levy’ that is charged by employers. Many construction companies pay a levy to the CITB in order to fund training workshops and skills development for workers in the construction company, as part of the initiative to build the UK’s reputation as a leader in construction. This should be paid for by the employer and NOT the employee. Therefore, it is important that when you’re starting out in a new job that you check you don’t have a ‘CITB levy’ charge come out of your wage as it is not your responsibility to shoulder this cost.

Summary

Acquiring a CSCS card is an important step in any construction worker’s career. It can open doors to possible employers as well as providing solid evidence of your skills and qualifications. While it is not a legal requirement to have a CSCS card to enter a construction site, many construction companies state this as an essential requirement for applicants in order to ensure the safety of their construction site and to be confident in the credentials of their employees. There are a variety of different CSCS cards that relate to both occupation and skill level within the construction industry.

Getting your head around which card you can apply for and the evidence you need to provide in order to obtain it can, at first, seem a little complicated. However, using the card finder tool on the CSCS website should soon point you in the right direction and it is likely that you will already have the qualification requirements needed as part of your training as a construction worker.

If you are seeking a career in construction but do not have any relevant qualifications you can still access an entry-level CSCS card, known as a Labourer Card, if you complete one of the Health and Safety qualifications listed above. Such a qualification should not be expensive and should be accessible whatever your employment or education background. There are funding options available for such training if self-funding a training course is not possible.

For all CSCS cards, you will be required to complete the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test which assesses an individuals awareness of important safety features on a construction site, as well as aiming to improve knowledge of what makes a productive and effective construction site. The test you need to take is dependent on which CSCS card you are applying for, so make sure you know which test you will be given so that you can prepare accordingly.

Finally, applying for the CSCS card should be a straightforward and affordable process which is best undertaken directly through CSCS themselves. If you have any questions regarding applying for a CSCS card you can contact them directly on 0344 994 4777.