Get Your First CSCS Card – Even If You Don’t Have Qualifications

If you want to work on a construction site in the United Kingdom, you’ll need to get a CSCS card. While these are not a legal requirement, all major employers within this sector have signed up to the scheme.

The card is usually accepted as proof that you have the skills and health and safety knowledge to carry out the work you are assigned.

On this page we’ll cover:

Card Types

Before you begin, you will need to decide what type of card you need.

The most popular are:

  • Provisional – these are valid for 6 months and can’t be renewed. They are used by those undergoing work experience or in a probationary period.
  • Trainee – for those registered for a qualification course.
  • Apprentice – for individuals on an approved apprenticeship program.
  • Labourer – this card is issued to labourers who have completed an approved basic health and safety course.
  • Experienced Worker – this card is popular with individuals that have experience but do not have the qualifications. It is valid for one year but cannot be renewed, the worker should gain a recognised qualification (there are fast track options, so keep reading) during this time and then upgrade the card to a full skilled worker card.
  • Skilled Worker – for individuals who have already achieved an NVQ or SVQ level 2 or a City and Guilds qualification, valid for five years.
  • Advanced Craft – similar to the skilled worker card but typically for level 3 NVQ/SVQ qualifications or City and Guilds. Valid for five years.

Other cards include; managerial, supervisor and academically qualified.

CSCS Cards

The Health, Safety and Environment Test

In addition to qualifications, experience or a training/apprentice program, you’ll also need to pass a CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test.

The type of test you’ll take will depend on your trade and what training you have already received.

The test is conducted via a computer terminal at an approved test centre and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.

You can expect to answer 50 multiple-choice questions.

Explore the CITB website for information about how to prepare for the test.

The test currently costs £22.50.

CSCS Card Cost

The cost of a CSCS card application is currently £36.

This is in addition to the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test fee.

How Long Does it Take For The Card to Arrive?

If you use the postal application, the card will be posted to you the next working day after the form is delivered and should arrive no later than ten working days.

The law states that anyone working on a construction site or undertaking construction work must be competent.

The CSCS card is part of a national scheme designed to help employers check competency.

Self-employed tradespeople who do not work on construction sites do not need to take part in the scheme but they still need to be competent.

The CSCS card opens many doors to tradespeople and allows them to work on most sites within the UK. Large employers in this sector rarely take on staff who do not have the card.

Do Small Businesses Need to Bother Checking CSCS Cards?

The CSCS scheme is primarily used by contractors and employers who work on construction sites.

Small businesses that employ tradespeople to work in private dwellings still need to ensure their employees are competent and the CSCS card is the easiest way to do this.

Alternatively, the employer can check the authenticity of qualifications and health and safety test certificates manually and at regular intervals during the tradesperson’s employment.

As a general rule of thumb, employers both large and small should be able to prove via official documents that their employees have the appropriate training, knowledge, skills and competency to carry out the tasks assigned to them.

They should also assume that, if a serious accident at work was to occur, the Health and Safety Executive will certainly want to see evidence of this competency.

Foreign Qualifications

If you have a comparable qualification that was issued abroad and you want CSCS to accept this instead of a UK issued qualification, you should first get a statement of comparability from ENIC (formally NARIC)

You should then contact CSCS.

Are You Experienced But Lack Qualifications?

It’s happened to many of us.

We learned on the job, the old fashioned way. We are now safe, skilled and competent but have no way to prove it other than going back to college.

CSCS previously offered cards to experienced workers who didn’t have qualifications.

That offer has now been withdrawn. Presumably due to abuse of the system.

There are two remaining routes for you to consider:

OSAT stands for On-Site Assessment and Training and is offered by some colleges. Your existing skills will be assessed on-site and you can gain a qualification that is nationally recognised without going to college. You should be experienced and also knowledgeable of current standards and practices.

The Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) is also a fast route available via the CITB awarding body, CSkills Awards. It was created for workers with at least 5 years of experience who do not require additional training. The skills required to pass the NVQ are included in one task which is observed by an assessor. EWPA is only available for level 2 qualifications in a limited number of trades.

We suggest you search for “experienced worker assessment” on or any other skills provider website for more information about on-site assessments that can lead to a nationally recognised qualification.

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To get started, head over to the CSCS website and select the type of card you need.

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