CSCS Cards: A Complete Guide to Understanding Benefits and Requirements

Everything You Need to Know about the CSCS Card

Anyone in the field of construction is aware of the CSCS card.  CSCS is an abbreviation for “Construction Skills Certification Scheme”.  It is required if you operate a construction site or work as a construction worker in the UK.  The possession of the CSCS card ensures your site is run safely and efficiently. 


This article is intended to supply you with all the information needed to apply for the CSCS card. Additionally, it will aid you in understanding what you can anticipate regarding the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test.  This test is also referred to as the CSCS test. This article is intended to make you knowledgeable about the nature of and the application process for the CSCS card.

About the CSCS Card

Construction workers are required to have a CSCS card in their possession if they plan to work in the UK. The CSCS card allows the employer of the site to know the person they plan to hire has the proper training and qualifications.  Having a CSCS card also verifies the construction site is safe to work at and maintains the highest of standards.

Working in construction in the UK, you will notice most building companies and contractors make it a mandatory prerequisite to possess.  Before stepping foot on a construction site in the UK you may need a CSCS card relevant to the job. Yet currently, this is solely up to the contractor’s discretion, as there is no legislative demand.

Why is the CSCS Card required?

The CSCS card was introduced in 1997 by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). It was introduced to ensure that workers were competent in their job roles, and it also serves as an essential tool for employers. The government set up the scheme to provide a nationally recognised standard for construction workers, and the CITB manages it.

Directors from the CITB have stated that the scheme is important because it:

  • Ensures that workers have the right skills and knowledge for the job
  • Assures employers that workers are competent and safe in their job roles
  • Encourages a focus on health and safety and high standards of work quality.
  • The CSCS card is more than just a card; it also provides employers with access to skilled workers' national database.

Who Administers the CSCS Card?

Originally organised as a not-for-profit company by the government. This company’s primary objective is for improving working conditions and lessens work-related accidents at construction sites.  The company we are describing is the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The CITB is responsible for the administration of the CSCS card.  The CITB is also responsible for establishing that construction workers have the skills and training acceptable for every job. As well, it aims to establish the UK’s name as one of the world’s commanders in the construction industry.

There are union representatives and leaders within the construction industry that are administrators with the CSCS blueprint.  This blueprint is backed by the Construction Leaders Council (CLC).  In 2015, it was specified employers should only accept CSCS cards in connection with the CSCS game plan.  There is also an initiative referred to as the One Industry Logo.  This initiative requires card blueprints to exhibit their card has the CSCS logo.  This provides the One Industry Logo with standards that are agreed upon across the board.  This identification enables employers to recognise future employee's qualifications and skill sets just by looking at the logo on their CSCS card.  Allowing for said employee to be placed in a job that correlates with their abilities.

Do I Really Need a CSCS Card?

We know it is not legally necessary to have a CSCS card. As well, contractors and employers cannot legally demand employees to have one to enter a job site and work. The necessity to have a CSCS card is more prevalent in the midst of large-scale contractors than in smaller ones. 

Therefore, if you desire to take advantage of business connections in construction, it would be wise to obtain one. It is evidence you are a competent worker with the skills and experience to back you up. Having possession of a CSCS card will show potential employers that you meet their primary requirements for employment. 

I want to apply for the CSCS Card - What qualifications Do I Need?

Before you apply for the CSCS card, it is important to know what qualifications you need.  What your capabilities are is what determines the type of CSCS card you will get.  This article will go into further detail about these qualifications and card types in the following sections.

Acceptable vocational qualifications:

A good fact to know about how to qualify for one of these cards is that a GCSE or A-level is not necessary.  It is acceptable to have an NVQ qualification; yet, this is not the only vocational qualification that is approved.  Even without other standard school competencies, one can still receive a CSCS card. This card allows acceptable admittance into the construction industry.


You can apply for the CSCS card with an employee-sponsored or apprenticeship approval from NJCBI or BATJIC.  The City of Guilds of London Institute Advanced Craft Certificate apprenticeship sponsorship also qualifies as proof of eligibility to apply for the CSCS card.  One qualifies for application of the Skilled Card or Advanced Craft Card when qualifying for an apprenticeship. 

NVQs or National Vocational Qualifications 

The NVQ is a qualification that recognises the person's skill they have within a certain industry. This also recognises the person has learned tasks both practical and work-related.  This enables the development of needed skills for employment within the desired field. Rather than testing to determine a person’s eligibility, the NVQ uses evidence from assignments as a portfolio of experience and skill. If the assessor believes you have acquired the standards necessary they will sign off on particular levels of the NVQ course.  For example, a construction-related Level 2 NVQ allows for an application for CSCS cards with blue-skill.  Construction management qualified levels 5,6, and 7 NVQs may apply for the black CSCS card. If you desire a career in the construction industry then having a qualifying NVQ provides all the proof needed for CSCS card access. Depending on your NVQ level determines what type of CSCS card you are eligible to acquire.

Acceptable Academic Qualifications

There is yet another way to qualify for a CSCS card, and that is by having an academic qualification. This is the Academically Qualified Person (AQP) Card. A Higher National Certificate/Diploma or Undergraduate/Postgraduate degree in a construction-related field will get your application accepted by CSCS. This section goes further into detailing these qualifications.

Under/Postgraduate degree qualifications: 

This type of degree is completed in three to four years and is awarded by a university.  Undergraduate degrees such as Bachelor Degree, Master’s and Doctorate degrees are all postgraduate level degrees accepted.  However, CSCS doesn’t accept all degrees; therefore, you will need to verify whether your degree is one that will qualify you to apply. Use the CSCS search tool on the website to determine if your degree is listed.  If it is not, you can call CSCS to get their advice on what your next steps should be.

Higher National Diplomas(HNDs)Higher National Certificates (HNCs)

This is another academic qualification you can use to apply for a CSCS card. These degrees are the Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs). Both are qualifications of higher education that have work-related or vocational content.  With an HNC you get a Level 4 qualification and an HND gets you Level 5.  Both qualifications have a “learning by doing” focus and are offered by higher education colleges.

In just one year you can finish an HNC and an HND may be completed in two years if you go to school full-time.  Yet, you can get each of the qualifications part-time also. Assessed via a series of projects, practical tasks, and assignments, these qualifications are attempted at full length during the course.  When applying for an Academically Qualified Person Card the HNCs and HNDs are considered in how they relate to the construction subject.  To determine whether your HNC or HND qualifies, go to the CSCS website search tool and look for your degree/certification.

Can My Membership with a Professional Body be useful evidence?

In accessing the membership criteria of professional bodies the CSCS accepts certain memberships as equal evidence to quality.  Access to the Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card is possible through membership in certain bodies of professionalism.  How you verify said membership is the actual membership certificate, membership card (photocopied on both sides), or a current email confirming membership.

As with other qualifying methods, to verify your membership is a qualifying one, use the CSCS search tool on the website.  If it is not listed, reach out to the CSCS to get advice about what are the next steps in completing your application.

Are there any Historical Qualifications?

Perhaps you have been working in the construction field for some time and none of the qualifications mentioned thus far applies to you?  Can you still qualify for a CSCS card? This does not necessarily mean the end of the road for your application process.  It just means you must take a different path along the course.  You are going to need to contact the CSCS and discuss in a personal conversation what your historical qualifications are.  Reach out to the CSCS at 0344 994 4777 to discuss what your qualifications are that you believe might qualify you for a card. 

What if I have No Qualifications? How do I get a CSCS Card?

Without any qualifications, you might believe getting a CSCS card and a construction job is an impossible feat.  However, there are other paths to take to gain an entry-level CSCS Labourer Card.  This section is going to take you down those paths. There are ways to obtain the CSCS card with a health and safety qualification the CSCS recognised.

Level 1 - An Award in Health & Safety in a Construction Environment

If an individual doesn’t have any previous knowledge about employment within the construction industry this is an available qualification. A training course was created to enable an individual with a simple understanding of the spectrum of employment and educational backgrounds.

This qualification envelopes extensive information comprehensive about health and safety at work and its maintenance. The course goes over all responsibilities of a construction site which encompasses legalities and the importance of health and safety techniques.  There will be lessons about wearing protective equipment included in this course.

As well as the importance of reporting an accident on-site and how to react to an emergency situation. 

Dependent on your existing skills, this training will take from 6 to 40 hours and will be performed at an approved centre.  The exam is normally taken online, to pass you must get 32 out of 40 answers correct.  You may locate the approved centres for this training by visiting us online.  When visiting the centre for training you will be advised of timescales and prices upon concluding this qualification.

A Site Safety Plus Health & Safety Awareness Certificate

This certificate may be realized by completing a classroom-based, one-day training course.  This course is yet another path to take to gain access to the CSCS Labourer Card.  The Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness Certificate training encompasses all concerns regarding health and safety on a construction site. This includes what one’s individual responsibilities are for maintaining one's own as well as others' safety. The health and safety awareness course will also go over some common hazards and how to deter them from happening at a construction site. In addition, the course covers all legal liabilities and requirements.  As well as measures for working safely in height situations, preventing fires, manual handling, and occupational, and work equipment health.

At the conclusion of the health and safety awareness course, applicants are to take a test with 25 questions, all multiple-choice.  You must answer 20 correctly in order to acquire the certification.  There is a list of training providers who are registered for giving this qualification on the CSCS website

IOSH Working Safely Course Certificate

Imperative safety and health amplitudes in the workplace are covered in the IOSH certificate course.  If this certificate is received through a different online course, CSCS is unable to accept it.  CSCS is only able to acknowledge the IOSH qualification certificate face-to-face.  You will need to pass a quiz on hazard awareness that are all multiple-choice questions.

A valid JTJ Introduction to Construction Course Certificate

This is another acceptable verification of evidence when attempting to acquire a CSCS Labourer Card.   As long as it is still valid and it was an introduction to a construction course.

A valid Priestman Association Principles of Construction Site Health and Safety Course Certificate

This training course is from 1-5 days long. It is offered by Priestman Associates. The course is made for apprentices, new starters, and labourers; it covers essential information regarding construction site health and safety.  The CSCS allows this if you are applying for the green Labourer CSCS Card as acceptable verification of evidence.  This type of training would likely be a condition of employment as a construction worker instead of an actual training course.

HABC Level 1- Award in Health and Safety for Construction Certificate

This one-day training was created for individuals with entry-level expertise in the construction field.  The HABC Level 1 Award in Health and Safety for Construction Certificate covers common hazards as well as safe practices at work that all employees should be made aware of. 

A valid DSA Health and Safety Awareness Course Certificate

This is another one-day health and safety awareness course in health and safety and is offered by the Drilling and Sawing Association.  You will be assessed based on a paper test and constructive assessment. Once you earn this certificate, it is good for 3 years.

Besides acquiring any of the above certifications in health and safety in construction, the CITB Operatives Health, Safety, and Environment test are also necessary to qualify for the Labourer CSCS Card.  This test will be covered later in this article in full detail.

For those with financial hardships making it difficult to afford the costs of these training qualifications, some funding options are available.

  • The CITB Levy and Grant System: This is a training levy meant for individuals who are currently working for a construction company.  An individual may be able to qualify for a grant to aid in acquiring the needed competencies for a CSCS card. 
  • (LEPs) Local Enterprise Partnerships: This is a partnership between local authorities and businesses which have been designed to provide economic growth and job creation in a definitive area.  Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are an excellent area to begin when seeking assistance with job-related training or funding sources.
  • The Job Centre: Another way to find opportunities for training and financial assistance is from your local One-Stop-Shop or Job Centre.  This offers excellent funding and training opportunities in relation to the CSCS card and working in the construction industry.  The Job Centre or One-Stop-Shop representative is able to give you the guidance necessary. Enabling you to apply for appropriate financial assistance to get the construction job qualification you choose.

How do I apply for the CSCS card?

First, you must know before applying for this card that it comes in a variety of forms. Prior to beginning your application, you need to determine which CSCS card fits your skill level. We have a guide available that provides comprehensive explanations to assist you in choosing which CSCS card is right for you.

Applying as an individual

Depending on whether you are an individual person or a corporation. There are a variety of reasons and ways to apply for a CSCS card. 

Let’s start with applying for a CSCS card as an individual. Below are the steps you should follow in order to start the application process. 

  • First step: collect all verifications you will need to support your list of qualifications for the job applying for
  • Once you get everything together which validates your qualifications you will need to email the information to [email protected]
  • The last step in obtaining your CSCS card is to take and pass the CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test (CSCS Test).  You need to show evidence of passing this test at some point in the past 2 years.

After collecting the required information, in order to complete the application, you must pay for your new CSCS card.  The CSCS does not accept applications through the postal service and there is no option for a refund. 

Once your CITB Health, Safety, & Environment test results are received; we can go into further explanation according to your qualifications.

Applying as an Employer

Occasionally, an employer may need to apply for their employee's CSCS card on their behalf. This process has been made simpler due to an online application that the employer fills out.  If you are an employer and you have more than one employee for which you need a CSCS card for, this online form is required.  Following your completion of the form online, we will reach out to you in order to accept payment for the employees listed on the application.

An employer may also apply for an individual employee by following a process similar to the one above.  Just email the employee’s pertinent capabilities to [email protected]. Once you do this, call 0344 994 4777 to pay the fee and continue on with the process of applying.

In addition, the employer must schedule the employer they are applying on behalf of for the CITB Health, Safety Environment Test.  This step is also on the CSCS site or the employer may call 0311 944 4488 to schedule the test.

How long does it take to get a CSCS Card?

About 3 to 5 days.

You can start the whole process at any time, but some of the schemes have waiting lists in place because they are so popular. If you apply for a scheme with a waiting list, then CSCS will send you information about when you can expect a place on the scheme and what other options are available to you. If you do not want to wait until your preferred scheme is available, other options such as scaffolding and ITE occupations have shorter waiting times.

What if I need to retake a CSCS Exam?

If you fail an exam, you can retake it as many times as is necessary. You will generally have to wait for six weeks before retaking the same exam, but you can also pay extra for a shorter waiting period.

How long is the processing time for a CSCS card?

After completing the application and around 20 days following submission you (or your employees) should get your/their CSCS card. The CSCS might need to contact you during the period leading up to you receiving the card if they need anything clarified so watch your email closely.  If after 5 weeks have passed and no card then you must contact the CSCS to find out what is causing the delay.

Ensure to closely track the status of your application. If 90 goes by and you haven’t received the card, you will be required to start a new application and pay another fee to receive the card.

What Types of CSCS Cards are available?

Because there are numerous careers available in this industry known as construction, there are an equal amount of CSCS cards.  For example,  the “Labourer” card is meant for workers with entry-level skills.  This card requires a person to have at least the minimum basic competency levels.  Yet, the labourer card also necessitates the need to prove to the employer they can meet standard employment qualifications.   

There are three main types of CSCS cards, and they each signify the different levels of competence for a job role:

White card: This signifies that an individual has completed 'entry level' training and has a basic knowledge of the job role. For example, a white cardholder may complete basic tasks such as carrying materials up and down scaffolding but cannot undertake any more complex tasks.

Green Card - This signifies that an individual has completed 'intermediate level' training and is competent to undertake various tasks related to their job role. This might include tasks such as applying mortar and working with different tools. The green card holder can also supervise others who have not yet achieved this level of competence.

Blue card: This signifies that an individual has completed 'advanced level' training and is competent to oversee others' work. They would supervise the work of green card holders and carry out various tasks connected with their job role independently.

I have my CSCS card - How long is it good for?

Your CSCS card is good for five years at the end of this period, you have the option to renew it. Now, should your skill level be the same as it was five years ago, you may want to renew and request a new card.  However, should your knowledge and/or level of skills advance you have another option.  You may want to see if you are eligible to apply for a CSCS card reflecting these changes.

What about the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test?

There is one other thing necessary to get a CSCS card, besides having appropriate qualifications.  There is another relevant test you must pass.  That is the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) test.  More popularly called the CSCS Test, and it goes along with whichever CSCS card you apply for.  You can access the CSCS Card Finder tool.  This will enable you to discover which test, at the occupation/level of card you require, you are required to take.

To familiarize you with what this CSCS test is about, it is a series of multiple-choice questions.  Each question has to do with the construction industry and issues relating to health, safety, and the environment.  This test will assess an individual’s knowledge about a variety of topics. It is intended to make the person taking it more aware of imperative features, i.e safety, when on a construction site. The aim of this quiz is to advance the knowledge of each person applying to that person who is aware of what makes a construction site both effective and productive.  This test is normally administered on a touch-screen computer. You may contact the website to find out what the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test cost. Once you pass it, you will be accredited for the next two years. 

How do I Schedule a CITB HSE Test?

You can schedule to take the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test through the CSCS website booking system online.  When you go online at this site you will be able to find the closest testing centre and find a time slot to book that is convenient. If you prefer, you can call 0344 994 4492 and book a test date/time as well as talk to someone about the requirements for accessibility. 

If you need to have your employees take the HSE test; we have an ideal solution. The CSCS has a mobile testing station that is capable of coming to your work site to administer the test.  The only requirement is that you have a  minimum of 16 workers who will simultaneously take the test. This mobile testing unit saves employers time and money because you can ensure all (or most) of your employees are tested at once. The number listed in the previous paragraph is the same number you call for this mobile option.

Are there any Exemptions Available for taking the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test?

If any of the following scenarios match your situation, you may be exempt from taking this CSCS test:

  • SOLAS Card: This is the SOLAS Safety Awareness Training Programme card. If you have taken this test and had a SOLAS Safe Pass Registration Card issued to you, then it is not necessary for you to take the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test. This is true only if you completed the SOLAS in the previous two years prior to application for a CSCS card.
  • Involved in an Apprenticeship: If you are participating in an apprenticeship that is relevant and finished within the past two years all requirements for health and safety you will be exempt from taking this test if you possess the following verifications:
  1. Documentation from the agency managing your apprenticeship which states you have met all their requirements for health and safety.
  2. Successfully take a Health and Safety Awareness, one-day course and have the certificate to prove it.
  3. Proof that as a factor of your qualifying apprenticeship, you have the Health and Safety module completed.

If you are in an apprenticeship, it would be worth your time to get in touch with the CSCS to see if you are exempt from taking the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test.  Just reach out to the CSCS to clarify whether you will be required to take this test that could be imperative to the future of your construction career. 

Your Rights when you have a CSCS Card

All staff at a construction site is required to have all the right training and qualifications in order to handle the job they are hired to do.  This is the reason CSCS cards were introduced.  When an employee carries the appropriate CSCS card they ensure others of their ability to work safely.  Because of how imperative it is for construction workers to have the CSCS card, the CSCS tries to make it as affordable and straightforward as possible to get one.  Avoid the use of third-party hassles by applying for the CSCS card directly on the website.  The CSCS has a set price for the card and test; going through a third-party guarantees extra fees will be involved. 

Another thing construction workers should beware of and look out for-- ‘The CITB levy’ --this is an extra fee that some employers may charge.  As it is, a lot of construction companies are forced to pay a CITB levy.  This is a fee employers pay to ensure their employees receive adequate training and skills development.  This levy is part of a UK initiative to ensure the UK has the leading construction reputation.  However, this levy is never paid by the employee, the employer pays for this since it benefits employers.

When you get hired by a construction company, you need to verify that no “CITB Levy” is being deducted from your wages. This is not your responsibility as the employee to have to pay this fee. 

How does colour relate to each CSCS card?

Of the 13 various types of CSCS cards, there are seven colours indicating the individual's qualifications, occupation, and skill levels. As the person's skill levels and qualifications increase, the colour of the card changes. For example, a green or red CSCS card indicates occupations with lower-skills. This colour indicates an entry-level position, with NVQ qualifications in construction.  

Each CSCS card colour changes as the worker's qualifications and skill levels advance. Following the entry-level Red and Green colours, they advance in the following ways:  Blue to Gold,  to eventually, the managerial level, Black. With professional or academic qualifications, you will be issued a White CSCS card for entrance to the site of construction. Someone with no qualifications is issued the Yellow CSCS card to differentiate they have no construction knowledge.

A person having a Yellow card might be the company director or property owner.  Although there are not any qualifications needed to be issued this card there is still a CSCS test one must take for relevance. 

The decision upon which CSCS card to make application for maybe a difficult task in itself. With 13 cards to choose from, there is now an all-inclusive model which explains the application process.  This extra guidance provides a much more straightforward way to decide the right card for you. is not associated or part of any scheme
or organisation such as the CSCS, CPCS or CITB. The only intention of this website is to
provide information about these schemes and their assessments.
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