Latest News

Everything You Need to Know About CSCS Cards

Posted on Tuesday, 9th August 2022

Everything You Need to Know About CSCS Cards

If you are a construction worker, ensuring that you have evidence to prove your competency is essential. If you don’t have the proof needed to get on-site, you can’t do your job. This is why it is so important to have the correct CSCS card.

CSCS cards are an industry-wide seal of approval that prove workers are qualified for their job role. In today’s blog, we look at the different types of card available, and what qualifications you need to apply for a CSCS card.

What does CSCS stand for?

CSCS stands for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. The body oversees the issuing of CSCS cards to workers who, through a combination of training and experience, have proven they can perform their job on construction sites safely and effectively. CSCS are vital in establishing safe working practise on building sites across the UK, and their name is recognised as a seal of approval to all the major construction contractors in the country.

What is a CSCS card?CSCS logo

You may be asking, what is the CSCS card for and why do I need it. CSCS cards are a vital tool to ensure those working on any construction sites are fully qualified and trained for their job role. These cards validate a construction worker as they prove they are safe to work within their role on a construction site.

While holding a CSCS card is not a legal requirement, the vast majority of construction and building sites will not allow workers on-site without one. This helps employers create a culture of safety on site, ensuring the chances of accidents and injury are reduced as much as possible.

How do I get a CSCS card?

To get a CSCS card, workers must have completed the necessary training and have the right qualifications for the job they are undertaking. This will vary depending on the card they are applying for, but most CSCS cards require workers to have completed, or at least enrolled, on an NVQ.

NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualification. They are qualifications built up of practical and theoretical learning. Using workplace examinations and specific modules targeted at their area of work. NVQs come in different ‘levels’ that reflect the learner’s knowledge, skills and understanding.

Learners will also need to have completed the CITB Health Safety & Environment test. This ensures that workers are aware of the basics in protecting themselves and others on construction sites. You can book your test on the CITB website.

Once you have completed all the necessary training, you can apply to get your card from CSCS. You will not automatically be given one for completing your NVQ.

CSCS Cards Available

What are the different types of CSCS card?

CSCS cards come in a range of different colours which show the experience, qualifications, and seniority level of the worker. While all of these cards will allow workers on-site, you will need a higher-level card to perform more advanced tasks and access certain parts of sites.

The type of card you can access will depend upon the level of NVQ you hold. This handy table will help you distinguish between the different types of card, who they are for, and what you need to acquire them:

Card Types
NVQ Level
Who they're for
  • Labourer 
None required. However, applicants must have completed an accepted course for construction health and safety awareness.
The most popular of these is CITB Health and Safety Awareness. You can find the full list of accepted courses on the CSCS website.

Entry-level workers with little experience
  • Skilled Worker
Level 2
Experienced Construction Workers who have achieved an NVQ level 2

  • Advanced Craft
  • Supervisory
Level 3 or 4Advanced craft: specialists in their specific field

Supervisory: supervising personnel in a construction environment
  • Manager’s card
Level 5, 6 or 7
Experienced workers that hold a management position on a construction site

  • Academically Qualified Person
  • Professionally Qualified Person
Level 7
Highest level of expertise for senior managers or industry
board members

All of these cards are valid for five years. If you want to know about the specifics of a certain card, you can visit the CSCS page on our website to find the right card for you.

CSCS red cardCSCS Red Cards

As well as the those listed in the table above, you can also acquire CSCS red cards. These work slightly differently and are often referred to as ‘temporary’ cards. They are issued to workers who have some experience but do not have the required level of qualification for their role.

Red cards come in six different categories:

Card type
Who they're for

Workers who have started a CSCS-recognised apprenticeship framework4 years and 6 months
Experienced Worker

Workers who have on-the-job experience and are enrolled on a Level 2 NVQ or higher.1 year
Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager

Supervisors, mangers, or technical workers who have on-the-job experienced and who are enrolled on a Level 3
NVQ or higher.
3 years

Trainees that are registered to complete a construction related qualification acceptable for a CSCS card.5 years
Industry Placement

Those undergoing a construction-related qualification or training programme such as a T-Level or Trainee Skills Development Programme.3 years

Those working through a probationary period while employers assess their suitability for their job role.6 months

Due to the temporary nature of these cards, they cannot be renewed. They are a stop gap to allow workers on-site while they work towards their qualification. As with the other cards, they must have also completed the CITB HS&E test within the past two years.

How much does a CSCS card cost?

At the time of writing, the standard fee for a CSCS card is £36. It will cost the same amount of money when renewing or replacing your card.

This price does not include your NVQ qualification, which will vary depending on the type of qualification and your provider. Applicants will also need to have completed a CITB Health Safety & Environment within the past two years. This test costs £22.50.

What is the CSCS card checker?

To help employers check that workers have the right level of training, CSCS have introduced the online card checker . When an individual is issued with a card, CSCS uploads a record of the individuals training to the card checker. This allows managers and supervisors to easily check their workers have the necessary qualifications. Workers can also use this system to monitor their own qualifications to ensure they know when they need to renew their cards or refresh their training.

Virtual Cards

CSCS released the 'My CSCS' app, which allows workers to display virtual CSCS cards in order to get on site. These virtual cards offer the exact same privileges as their physical equivalent, but allow workers to display their qualifications via their phone. These virtual cards are automatically issued to all successful CSCS card applicants at no additional expense. Find out more about how the app and cards work over on the CSCS website.

NVQs with Essential Site Skills:

At Essential Site Skills, we provide a wide variety of NVQs to meet the demands of your job role. To find the right NVQ for you, either search via our homepage, or take a look at our online course index. Certain workers and organisations will also be able to access our government funding, to help covers the costs of training. You can find out more about funding and whether you are eligible on the ESS funding page.

Still have questions? Why not speak to a member of our team. You can contact us on  0115 8970 529, or email the team at [email protected].


Want to find out more?

Contact Us