How To Become A Construction Labourer

If you are looking to start a career in construction, the best entry point is to start as a labourer. Working as a labourer will give you the opportunity to gain experience on a construction site, develop your skillset, and work your way up to more senior positions. But how do you become a labourer, what does the role involve, and what job cards do you need? Let’s take a look...

What’s a site labourer?

Labourer is a term given to workers that are just starting out their career on a construction site. This is an entry-level position, and is where most construction workers get their first opportunity to work in the industry.

While you still need to have certain qualifications to become a site labourer (which we will cover later in the blog) these jobs are much more accessible for those looking to get their first job or make a career change. These positions do not require the same level of knowledge, know-how or experience as other more advanced positions on a construction site.

What does a construction labourer do?

Labourers can be given a wide range of tasks to perform on site, depending on the nature of the business and project they are working on. These roles can include, but are not limited to:

  • Laying foundations
  • Digging trenches
  • Building walls
  • Maintaining records
  • Ordering equipment
  • Using tools and equipment

Because of the practical nature of the role, labourers are expected to have decent levels of fitness and be in good physical shape. This role can be hard but fulfilling work, with plenty of opportunities to advance your career and move onto different disciplines that suit your interests.

image shows construction labourers

What card do you need to be a labourer?

To get on most construction sites in the UK, you will need a valid CSCS card for your role. These cards are the industry-wide standard which prove your suitability to perform your job safely on site. CSCS cards are not a legal requirement, but most businesses will demand their workers have one to ensure safety on their site.

For the role of labourer, you will need a CSCS labourer card, often referred to simply as the CSCS green card. These cards prove to employers, supervisors, and managers, that you have completed the necessary training and have suitable knowledge to perform your job safely.

To find a complete breakdown of the different types of CSCS card available, check out our blog ‘Everything You Need to Know About CSCS Cards’.

How do I get a green labourers CSCS card?

To get a green card you need have completed a couple of different qualifications.

Firstly, you need to have completed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) test. This short, multiple-choice exam tests you on your knowledge of the basic principles of working safely in a building environment. This needs to have been completed within the last two years of you applying for your card.

You also need an additional, more in-depth, qualification that proves your suitability for working on site. These include:

At ESS, we have recently starting delivering the Level 1 Health & Safety in a Construction Environment (Leading to CSCS Green Card). As the name suggests, this is an online course that will provide you with the necessary qualifications to apply for a CSCS green card. These e-learning courses allow you to complete learning from home at a time and pace which works for you.

How quick can I get a CSCS card?

How quickly you will be able to get your CSCS green card will depend on which qualification you decide to undertake.

The IOSH, CITB and NPORS courses listed above usually take less time to complete, but are only valid for 5 years. This means you will need to complete a refresher course every 5 years. The QCF Level 1, SCQF Level 5, and BTEC Level 1 qualifications will take longer, but are lifetime qualifications which do not require renewal.

Once you have the qualifications necessary for your card, you will need to apply to CSCS directly. You can use any of the following options:

Once your application is approved, cards are usually sent out the following day via post, and arrive within 20 days. However, you don’t need to wait for your physical card to start working. The CSCS card checker automatically uploads learner information once application is complete, meaning your employers can check your qualifications without having your physical card.

How much is a CSCS test in 2020?

The cost of your CSCS training and tests will depend on the qualification you are completing in order to acquire your green card. The CITB HS&E test costs £21 at the time of writing.

Can I get a CSCS card for free?

Depending on their circumstances and location, it is possible for some workers and employers to access funding for certain qualifications. This will allow them to complete their qualifications without any personal cost to them.

To explore some of the funding options available, head over to the funding section of our website to find any that would be valid for your situation and needs. Alternatively, you can speak directly to our team on 0115 8970 529, or email Our team of experts will be able to recommend a range of options right for you.

Where can I get my training?

At ESS, we provide multiple qualifications which will provide the necessary training for a green card:

To help workers get qualifications during the coronavirus pandemic, we are able to provide the CITB HSA course via video conference training. This method of learning provides the same level of skills, knowledge, and expertise, but is delivered remotely by our trainers over the video conferencing tool Zoom.

To see a full list of the courses and NVQs we have available, head over to our online course index. You can also find a full list of our e-learning courses online.

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