What is a CSCS card? And how do you get one?

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Flexible monthly business insurance
31 May 2022
5 minute read

A CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card is an important thing to have if you work in the construction sector. It shows that your skills are certified and it’s a quick way for employers to check your competence.

What is a CSCS card?

A Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card is the leading skills certification scheme in the UK construction industry. It proves to employers that you’re properly qualified, and have the skills and knowledge to work in the industry.

What types of CSCS card are there?

There are 12 different CSCS card types. Which one you need depends on where you are with your training or experience. Check them out below. You can also find more detailed information about them on the CSCS website.

Labourer

This card is for entry-level workers on a construction site. You’ll need to have RQF Level 1/SCQF Level 4 Award in Health and Safety in a construction environment, or SCQF Level 5 REHIS Elementary Health and Safety Certificate – as well as passing the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment (HS&E) test.

Valid for: five years (renewable).

Apprentice

This card is for those who’ve registered onto an official apprenticeship (you’ll need to prove it’s a valid scheme).

Valid for: 4 years and 6 months (not renewable).

Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager

Got on-the-job experience as a manager or supervisor? This temporary card is ideal if you’re not a member of a professional body, as it’ll tide you over while you take a relevant NVQ.

Valid for: 3 years (not renewable).

Experienced worker

If you’re studying for a CSCS recognised NVQ/SVQ qualification and have at least one year’s work experience in a construction-related job, this card is for you.

Valid for: one year (not renewable).

Trainee

Apply for this card if you’re just starting your construction industry experience. You’ll need to pass the essential health and safety knowledge test, and be enrolled on a training course.

Valid for: five years (not renewable).

Skilled worker

This card applies if you have an NVQ/SVQ level 2 in a construction-related subject, or you’ve done an apprenticeship programme approved by CSCS.

Valid for: five years (renewable).

Advanced craft

Applies if you’ve got a level 3 NVQ/SVQ, a CSCS approved indentured apprenticeship, or an employer-sponsored apprenticeship – including a City and Guilds of London Institute Advanced Craft Certificate.

Valid for: five years (renewable).

Supervisory

Apply if you’ve got a Construction Related Supervisory/Technical NVQ or SVQ level 3 or 4, and are in a supervisor or technical role.

Valid for: Five years (you can renew it).

Manager

A high level card for those with NVQ/SVQ level 4, 5, 6, or 7 with a Construction Management/Technical related qualification – and a management role or technical occupation in construction.

Valid for: five years (renewable).

Academically qualified person

Applies if you’ve got construction-related degrees, HNDs, HNCs, CIOB Certificates, and NEBOSH diplomas. You’ll need to show proof of qualification, and possibly units achieved.

Valid for: five years (renewable).

Professionally qualified person (PQP)

This card applies if you’re a member of a CSCS-approved professional body, and if you’re required to visit a construction site for your job. You’ll need to show awareness of health and safety standards, too.

Valid for: five years (renewable).

Provisional card

A temporary card if you’re working through a probationary period, or on-site work experience. You’ll need to sign up for a construction-related qualification before it expires.

Valid for: Six months (not renewable).

So, do you need a CSCS card?

CSCS cards are not a legal requirement in the UK. However, similar to public liability insurance, most major contractors require them before you’re allowed on site. The CSCS card is a quick way of proving you’ve got the skills and experience to manage the job at hand.

How to get a CSCS card

It’s quick and easy to apply for your CSCS card online. Before you get started make sure you have these things to hand:

  • A scanned copy of your qualification certificate or proof you’re registered onto a qualification that’s relevant
  • Your test ID number from your CITB Health, Safety, and Environment (HS&E) test – found at the top of your pass letter
  • A credit or debit card to pay the standard application fee

If you’re applying with an exemption to the HS&E test requirements, you may also need to have a passport photo.

Applying online

Follow these steps to apply for a CSCS card:

  1. Go to www.cscs.uk.com/login and either log in or register for a new account
  2. If you’re creating an account, select ‘individual applicant’ and fill in your details
  3. Click register and check your inbox for a verification email. Hit the link in the email and log in
  4. If you’ve had a CSCS card before make sure you claim it, and add it to your account before starting your application
  5. Next, go to ‘My Profile’, click ‘Apply for a card’, and select whether you’ve passed the CITB HS&E test (make sure you passed within the last two years)
  6. Select the card you need, your qualification and occupation, and add your certificate number and the achievement/enrollment date
  7. Choose the type of HS&E test you passed, add your CITB test ID, personal info, and delivery address
  8. Check everything, accept the Ts and Cs, and go to payment

All done! Once approved, your card will arrive in the post in 3-5 working days.

You can also get a digital copy via the My CSCS app.

How much is a CSCS card?

Your CSCS card itself costs £36. Taking your CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test costs £22.50. So that’s £58.50 in total.

How long does it take to get a CSCS card?

When you’ve paid for your CSCS card, it’ll be posted to you the next working day. So you should get it within 3-5 days. You can also get a digital copy straight after payment via the My CSCS app.

How long does a CSCS card last?

Most CSCS cards last for up to five years and are easy to renew. However, there are some that are temporary. For more detail on the different cards, check out the above section, or head over to the CSCS website.

What if you don't have a CITB (HS&E) ID?

In most cases to apply for a CSCS card you are required to pass the appropriate level of CITB Health, safety and environment (HS&E) test within the last two years.

How long does a HS&E test last?

The CITB Health, Safety and Environment test is 45 minutes long and has 50 multiple choice questions. The test is taken at a CITB approved test centre, so make sure you arrive 15 minutes before the start time.

If I fail my HS&E test can I retake it?

Yes. You can book another test after 24 hours. Just be aware that you can’t actually sit another test for 48 hours from your original test time.

Other requirements to work in construction

As well as having a CSCS card, you may need why not look into other qualifications or requirements to work in construction.

For instance, a Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) qualification, asbestos awareness training, specialised NVQS – or if you’re about to become a supervisor, a Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS).

Learning about health and safety in different environments is also important. Doing so gives you an competitive advantage when it comes to employment.

The last piece of the puzzle is business insurance. To make sure you’re fully protected from accidents and risks that might occur on site, insurance is a must. And, many supervisors or larger construction companies may require you to have some level of cover in order to work with them.

Check out our construction insurance to find out what covers you’d need and get insured in less than 10 minutes.

This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.

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