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What is a CSCS Card? The Ultimate Guide

What is a CSCS Card? The Ultimate Guide post image

If you’ve worked on a construction site, or you’re looking to enter into the construction industry, you’ll likely have been asked for your CSCS Card at some point. But what exactly is it and what does it mean?

To help you navigate the topic, we’ve put together an in-depth guide containing everything you need to know about CSCS Cards.

But first, who are we? We’re a leading Health & Safety training centre that delivers essential health and safety training specific to the construction and access industry to individuals looking to enter the industry or brush up on their skills and qualifications. For over 10 years, we’ve been providing CSCS Training Courses and Cards so we’ve got the experience and knowledge to answer all your questions!

Let’s get started with the basics…

What is a CSCS Card?

In the simplest of terms, a CSCS Card is a way of identifying workers in the construction industry and verifying whether or not they hold the essential and relevant qualifications and training needed to work on-site or carry out specific tasks.

Similar to a driving license in the sense that you learn the skill, complete a test and receive a card to prove your abilities, a CSCS Card is your evidence to prove that you meet the standards and safety requirements needed to do your job properly.

What is the Purpose of CSCS?

CSCS stands for The Construction Skills Certification Scheme, which has been around since 1995. The scheme was created as a way to increase safety on site by making sure that every individual has the appropriate skills, experience and qualifications necessary to carry out their specific role. As well as safety, CSCS Cards also offer construction workers the opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities to contractors and clients and secure employment.

Who Needs a CSCS Card?

Again, to keep it simple, CSCS Cards are designed for construction workers. Anyone who carries out tasks or manages others on a construction site is a suitable candidate for a CSCS card.

The CSCS scheme is available for a variety of professionals in construction, crafts, operations, technical, supervisory and managerial roles. From Air Compressor Engineers to Gas Fitters and Underground Mapping Operatives, the list is endless as to what roles fall within the CSCS’ remit. Whatever role or specialism you choose to take on in the construction industry, chances are you will benefit from earning a CSCS card.

We’ll get into it in more detail later on in the guide, but it’s important to point out that CSCS Cards are not a legal requirement, so technically nobody needs a CSCS Card. However, many employers will only allow those holding a valid CSCS on-site, and may not even take you on as an employee without one.

Previously, non-construction workers who visit construction sites were able to purchase a Construction Site Visitors Card; however, this has been scrapped in recent years as the CSCS described them as an ‘unnecessary burden’.

Different Types of CSCS Cards

The construction industry is home to a wealth of different job roles, each with its own relevant qualifications, so it only makes sense that there are a variety of CSCS Cards that are unique to specific job types. These include:

  • Labourer
  • Apprentice
  • Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager
  • Experienced Worker
  • Trainee Card
  • Industry Placement Card
  • Blue Skilled Worker
  • Gold Skilled Worker
  • Supervisory
  • Manager
  • Academically Qualified Person
  • Professionally Qualified Person
  • Provisional (Temporary Only)

The following card types are no longer issued by the CSCS; however, you may still see them around as they remain valid until the expiry date on the card is reached.

  • Construction Site Visitor
  • Trainee (Craft & Operative)
  • Trainee (Tech, Supervisory and Management)
  • Construction Site Operative (CSO)
  • Construction Related Occupation (CRO)
  • Basic Skills

The different card types are handily colour-coded making it easier to identify when on site. For example, a red card for those in training, a blue card for skilled workers, a gold-coloured card for supervisors and advanced trades, and black cards for managerial positions.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Get a CSCS Card?

The qualifications needed to apply for a CSCS Card ultimately depends upon the type of card you’re applying for. But, regardless of the type of card you’re after, everyone must complete a CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test.

This test is designed to ensure everyone on site can work safely; however, there are three different types, each with different levels of responsibility.

Types of HS&E Tests

  • Operatives
  • Specialists
  • Managers & Professionals

Once you know which CSCS Card Type you require, you can check which type of test you need to complete.

For more information regarding the qualifications required for each card type, please visit this CSCS Guide here.

How Long is a CSCS Card Valid For?

Once your CSCS card has been processed, it will be valid for five years. Whilst your health, safety and environment test is only valid for two years on its own, its expiration date will be stretched to the same as your CSCS card, once it has been processed.

It’s crucial that you renew your CSCS card when it nears or reaches its expiration date. Each of the scheme’s cards are what’s known as “smart cards”, which allows contractors or clients to scan the card and see information about your qualifications and whether or not your card is valid. Don’t risk losing a job for the sake of a quick and simple card renewal.

Is a CSCS Card a Legal Requirement?

As it stands, it is not a legal requirement to take part in the CSCS scheme and to qualify for a CSCS card. However, many major contractors (especially those who are part of the UKCG) are choosing to make it a requirement for their workers to have a valid CSCS card. With that in mind, it’s well worth taking the time to qualify for the card, as it will greatly broaden the number of job opportunities available to you.

Can I work on a building site without a CSCS card?

We’re often asked this question, but the answer is really up to the site manager and the company running the operation. Some companies and sites will have a ‘No CSCS Card, No Entry’ policy, while there may be some sites out there that don’t ask for your CSCS Card. Although, we would advise being wary of sites and companies that are not prioritising the health and safety of their employees.

While the answer is yes, you can work on some building sites without a CSCS Card, it is best practice to get your CSCS Card if you want to work in construction. Not only will it remove any barriers in place that could prevent you from taking a job, but it will also serve as proof of your training, qualifications and experience, thereby making you all-round more employable.

Can anyone apply for a CSCS Card?

In theory yes, anyone can apply for a CSCS Card. However, successful applicants must be able to prove that they have the relevant qualifications and training for their role and that they have passed the CITB HS&E Test within the last two years.

Getting Your CSCS Card

Making the effort to earn yourself a CSCS card couldn’t be more rewarding for your career in the construction industry, which you will really begin to reap the benefits of when your job opportunities are dramatically increased. It takes a short amount of time and a little more training, but it will all be worthwhile for your future prospects.

If you’re looking to get your CSCS Card, we recommend finding a CSCS Test Centre you can trust, like SMCL. We deliver a wide range of Health & Safety Training Courses, including CITB; helping you to gain the essential skills you need to gain your CSCS Card and progress your career in construction. Contact us today for more information and our friendly team will be happy to help!