Types of CSCS Cards - Everything You Need To Know

Do you want to work or acquire access to a site of construction within the United Kingdom? It is quickly becoming a necessity to possess a CSCS card in order to do either.  The CSCS card in your possession will mirror your occupation and level of skill.  Upon coming on a site for construction, you must show it as proof you possess the required safety awareness training and skills.  This ensures you are able to commence with your role and do the job you came to do. 

The first thing you need to do is recognise which CSCS card is required.  Since there are several CCSC cards available, this task may seem pretty overwhelming; however, that is why this article was written.  To assist the individual as they navigate through the various CSCS card types and choose the one right for them. 

Each section of this article is going to examine carefully each type of CSCS card available. As well as cover the qualifications and skills necessary, and what job in the industry of construction it accommodates.

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 workers 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 qualification, 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 the 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 an application for maybe a difficult task in itself. With 13 cards to choose from, there is now an all-inclusive model in which explains the application process.  This extra guidance provides a much more straightforward way to decide the right card for you.

A Comprehensive Look at each CSCS Card Type

In the previous section, we mentioned there are 13 colours of CSCS cards to apply and possibly qualify for.  This section is going to takes a look, one more comprehensive, and in-depth.

The Green CSCS Card: Labourer

cscs green labourer card

This is the card for an individual seeking a labour position in the industry applies for. Intended for workers with beginner skills. Yet, one must still possess a degree of understanding that is standard regarding how a site of construction works. As well, this individual must be aware of all imperative safety and health considerations at the construction site.

Necessary Qualifications

Before you apply for the Green CSCS Labourer Card there is some very important information you should know. One of the primary things is the QCF Level 1/SCQF Level 4 SCQF Level 5 REHIS Elementary Health and Safety Certificate or Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment.We have listed below a list of the qualifications the CSCS accepts below.

Application for the Green CSCS Labourer Card requires one to successfully take the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test.

What's needed for this card:

  • The first requirement is the "RQF Level 1/SCQF Level 4 Award in a Construction Environment".
  • An SCQF Level 5 REHIS Elementary Health and Safety Certificate
  • A CSCS approved alternative qualification.  A person can only use an alternate qualification that is expired only one time. Therefore,  it will be necessary to take these qualifications again to reinstate the Labourer card.

To obtain one of these qualifications reach out to the Jobcentre Plus, a training centre, or a local college. You can also get advice from one of these organisations about the availability of any assessment or training.

Besides having a qualification relevant to holding the Green Card, one must be able to pass the CSCS Test for Operatives. This is a requirement before completing the Green CSCS Labourer Card application.  Dependent on the card applying for, there are varying levels to the test. This test subsists of questions all multiple choice and associated with environmental, health, and safety concerns with construction.  This test may be concluded at a CSCS test Centre.

What can this card access?

Earning a Green CSCS Labourer Card not only allows one to gain entry into the industry of construction. Also, you will be enabled to test a number of trades before choosing the skill you wish to seek. If you're interested in bricklaying, plumbing, electronics, carpentry, or tiling,  a CSCS card affords you a wealth of opportunities. Your new CSCS card will permit access and pave the way to a desirable career in the industry of construction.

Unfortunately, there aren't any qualifications or courses available through CSCS. 

Once you receive your CSCS card for the length of five years it will remain valid. 

The Labourer card is unable to be renewed. This card is not renewable once expired. It will be necessary for you to re-apply for the card to get a new one.

The Red Apprentice CSCS Card

cscs red apprentice card

If you are working on finishing an apprenticeship, or have completed one already, the Red CSCS card is for your. One other stipulation is the apprenticeship must be accredited and CSCS recognised.  Attaining the Red CSCS Apprentice Card gives you entry to a site of construction.  It also allows one to gain expertise hands on while you continue with your apprenticeship.  This practical experience you are acquiring will be proven imperative as you advance toward your career choice. You will discover having the Red CSCS card would be an asset valuable to your training and apprenticeship.

Required Qualifications

If it's the Red CSCS Apprentice Card that you want to qualify for there are some requirements that must be met. As well as you must provide verification of being registered in an apprenticeship scheme that is valid.  The following proof may be submitted to the CSCS:

  • A letter by the Agency managing your apprenticeship:  The agency managing your apprenticeship must give verification affirming registration with their body in the apprenticeship you are involved in.
  • Letter from the training provider of your apprenticeship:  This is a letter in which the training provider of your apprenticeship verifies your registration within an accredited apprenticeship scheme.  Consisting of the apprenticeship that you registered and the qualifications you are involved in and the avenue you are engaged in.
  • Agreement of apprenticeship:  This is an arrangement stating the activity and competence (avenues) you are striving for.  Also, this agreement will be an acceptable piece of verification for this type of CSCS card.

Inability to show evidence of the above items requires taking the CSCS Test. This will be necessary before submitting an application for the Red CSCS Apprentice Card.

What is accessible with this card?

Once you have received your Red CSCS Apprentice Card, it proves you meet all safety and health conditions.  It allows your access to come in a construction site. When your apprenticeship is finished you may be eligible for another application for a new card.  The Blue Skilled Worker or Gold Advanced Craft CSCS card.

How long is the card good for?

The Red CSCS Apprentice Card is only valid 4.5 years; once this is up you may not renew it.

The Red CSCS Card for Experienced Technical, Supervisor, or Manager

cscs supverisor card

This is a card made available to Managers, Supervisors, and Technical Workers as a temporary card.  A minimum of one year expertise working on a site of construction in this capacity (experience within three years of applying).

To be eligible for this card, they must not only possess the above job experience, they must meet other requirements.  They must be working on completing one of the following.  Either completion of a construction-related NVQ or SVQ Level 3 or above. This person may not be associated with or hold membership of an authorised Professional Body.

You will be able to verify all the eligibility requirements by visiting the CSCS website's card finding tool.

You will be required to show evidence you are involved in a training course related to the industry of construction.  This information must come from the Training Organisation and include:

  • The name of applicant: your name needs to be stated clearly on said verification provided
  • The NVQ/SVQ title qualification must be declared in full.  This is inclusive of what stage you embark upon
  • The date (within the past two years) of your course registration

Besides providing the above verification as evidence you are required to successfully take the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test.

What does a Red Experienced Technical, Supervisor, or Manager CSCS Card allow me to access?

Once the Red Experienced Technical, Supervisor, or Manager CSCS Card  is in your possession you are allowed access to many suitable roles. These roles, of course, will be dependent on your level of experience.  This experience must have been completed while in the sector of completing your competencies associated with the industry of construction.  When you earn your SVQ or NVQ  level 3 or more you can do another for a new card.  This being the Gold Supervisory card or the Black Manager card. Of course, both are dependent on your level of expertise.

How long is the card valid for?

After acquiring the Red Experienced Technical, Supervisor, or Manager CSCS card it will be credible for three years. This card isn't renewable, one must retest for it to qualify for a new card.

The Red CSCS Card - Experienced Worker

cscs red manager card

If you have work experience at a construction site but no other qualifications associated with construction, this is your card.  The Red CSCS Card--Experienced Worker is the card for this person who is striving towards acquiring the necessary qualifications. This card is a temporary one that may be upgraded when the person has completed the qualifications needed. In order for an individual to be classified as being "experienced" the person must have experience working in construction. That work must have been for at a minimum of one year within the past three years 

Required Qualifications

Besides working in the field for a minimum one year, one must verify they're presently in a CSCS accepted NVQ/SVQ.  This is another qualification that must be completed before an application for the Red CSCS Experienced Worker Card can be made.

This evidence is required to be obtainable from the Training Organisation in which you are attending and include:

  • Applicant name: full legal name be fixed on the documentation provided
  • Complete title of NVQ/SVQ  eligibility, as well as what range you are enrolled in
  • The date of registration in said course (within the past two years)

Verification of completing a pertinent CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test, just as you with the other CSCS cards. This test must have been initiated within the past two years.

What is accessible to me when I have this card?

With this card, you will be able to show future employers verification of your experience in the industry of construction. In addition, you have evidence of your progress towards the competition of an occupation relevant to construction.

How long is this card valid?

This card is valid for a period of one year, because of it's temporary status and it is not renewable.

Red CSCS Card - Trainee

cscs trainee card

This is an entry-level card made for persons interested in beginning a career as a trainee in the industry of construction.  Having the Red CSCS Trainee Card shows an employer current enrollment in pertinent courses of training.  It also verified the person meets all conditions of the industry.  That they are aware of all rules and regulations in connection to the part you play in the industry. Additionally, this card is proof of successfully passing the requisite knowledge test for safety and health.

Required Qualifications 

Just as the other CSCS cards, applying for the Red CSCS Trainee Card is going to require some evidence.  The proof you need to supply is your present enrollment toward an acceptable qualification related to the industry of construction.  This verification may be of a professional, academic or vocational level.  Typically, this evidence  is a course for NVQ or SVQ. However, it may also be a  non-NVQ diploma, Foundation Construction Award, an Intermediate Construction Award, or degree.  You may check out our complete listings of qualification types the CSCS accepts on the website.

Whatever you may be undertaking for a qualification will need to be provided as your evidence. This verification needs to be provided directly by the Training Organisations or Professional Body of which hold said qualification. Or the university for which you have earned the degree.  Just as long as this piece of evidence is inclusive of the following information:

  • Name of applicant: Full, legal name must be clear and concisely note on this verification
  • The complete title of qualification as well as the level you were at
  • The date within the past two years of your registration to the course of current enrollment

Besides these requirements for qualifications, one must be successful in taking the Operative level CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test. This test needs to be taken and passed within the past two years.

What is accessible with this card?

Upon earning the Red CSCS Trainee Card you will be able to experience real work on a site for construction. This can all be acquired while you are finishing up the qualification requirements.  Now that you have the Red CSCS Trainee Card in your possession you show future employers you are capable of working while on site.  It also ensures you approved entrance when arriving at the construction sites of which said work experience will be undertaken. Possession of the trainee card will prove to open many doors on your way to achieving your goals of working in the industry.

How long is the card valid and may it be renewed?

It is valid for five years upon the date of issuance after that period, it may not be renewed.

The Provisional Red CSCS Card

cscs red provisional card

If you have never had a CSCS card previously, the Red CSCS Provisional Card is available. It's objective is to assist people employed during their probation period. But they do not have any qualifications that are construction-related to be registered. Therefore, they are not enabled to gain entry to the site they are working.  This provisional card permits the worker to enter the site during the time an employer is gauging their employment suitability. 

Required Qualifications

Besides the need to successfully complete the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test, there aren't any explicit qualifications.  Just ensure it has been within the past two years you passed the test.  A temporary card issued with the condition one will register a qualification that is relevant to construction before it expires. As well as applying for the CSCS card related to the career in their pursuit.

How long is the card valid?

Card is valid for 6 months, and not renewable.

The Blue CSCS Card - Skilled Worker

cscs blue card Skilled Worker

This card is meant for people who already have a qualification that is relevant and construction-related.  Or, one who finished their CSCS approved apprenticeship programme.

Required Qualifications

To be eligible for the Blue CSCS Skilled Worker card, one is required to finish a level 2 NVQ or SVQ subject pertinent to construction.  Another path would be via an Employer sponsored apprenticeship, CSCS Approved Trailblazer, or the City and Guilds of London Institute Craft Certificate. When using one of these qualifications the applicants name, type of qualification, and award date must be included.

In addition, the applicant must also successfully take the applicable CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test. To qualify completely for the Blue card these qualifications must be done within the past two years.

What is accessible with this card?

This card allows you to show employers and others you are an experienced worker. A worker who has been completely trained in the safety and healthy needs of a UK construction site. It also establishes you meet all statutory conditions required for proceeding in your desired occupation. As your career evolves, your qualifications may advance you to the next level--a Gold CSCS card.

Card validity and renewal

The Blue CSCS Skilled Worker card remains effective for five years and at the end of this period may be renewed. 

Gold CSCS Card - Advance Craft

cscs gold card Advanced Craft

The level of person eligible for this card is indicated by its color.  The Gold card indicates the individually in possession of it is extremely skilled in their area of expertise within the construction field.  In addition, this person has NVQ/SVQ advanced qualifications.

Required Qualifications

There are several qualifications a person  must provide as evidence of their Gold CSCS Advanced Craft card eligibility. Below are these qualifications:

  • Level 3 NVQ/SVQ:  construction-related qualifications that are level 3 in both NVQ/SVQ.  This indicates extreme expertise in the industry. Possessing the qualification of level 3 guarantees eligibility to a Gold CSCS Advanced Craft card.
  • An endorsed apprenticeship: completion of an apprenticeship endorsed by CSCS makes you eligible to apply for this gold card.
  • Apprenticeship employer-sponsored:  Completion of an apprenticeship sponsored by an employer, which includes obtaining the City and Guilds of London Institute Advanced Craft Certificate, gives you eligibility to apply for this card.

As with the other CSCS cards, it is mandated to successfully take the CITB Health, SAfety, and Environment Test within the past two years. Your occupation depends on which test you take; however, it will be either the Specialist or Operative test.

What is accessible with this card?

When you have this card you will be able to show employers your extreme skillfulness within your occupation.  It is evidence of leading skills establishing your credentials for safety and health are relevant to the role you undertake. 

Validity and renewal of the card

This card has a five year validity and may be renewed.

Gold CSCS Card - Supervision

cscs gold card Supervisory

If you work as a supervisor in the industry of construction, the Gold CSCS Supervisory Card was made for you. It is for people of heightened levels of skill,  and experience with leading workers at a construction site. 

Required Qualifications

An individual requires extensive expertise in the field of construction supervising others to qualify for this card.  The CSCS will need verification of either the level 3 or 4 (occupational or site supervisor) NVQ/SVQ qualifications.  It is also necessary for you to successfully take the Supervisory CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test for eligibility to this card.  It must have been passed within the past two years.

What is accessible with this card?

The Gold CSCS Supervisory Card shows future employers you're capable of supervising a site of construction.  It also proves your qualifications are advanced and meet your expertise levels. Possessing this card enables you to apply for roles of supervision within your occupation.

Validity and renewal of the card

The Gold Supervisory card is valid for five years; at which at the end of this period may be renewed.

Black CSCS Card - Managers

cscs black card manager

If your occupation is within the managerial and technical levels, this is one of the most advanced cards to apply for.  It requires an advanced skill level in the industry of construction within the scope of managing. 

Required Qualifications

You are required to hold either a level 4, 5, 6, or 7 NVQ/SVQ Construction Management/Technical relevant business. This qualification may be completed while employed and employer's often support their workers to acquire these levels.

The CITB Managers and Professionals Health, Safety, and Environment test is a required undertaking within two years of applying. 

What is accessible with this card?

Your experience in the sector of construction is extensive if you want to apply for the Black CSCS Manager Card. This is an imperative stage in the development of your career should you achieve possession of this card. It will enable your application for positions within the industry of senior status. Acquiring the Black CSCS Managerial card is an imperative stride to take in the progression of your career.

Validity and renewal

This card is good for a term of five years and if desired may be renewed.

AQP White CSCS Card - Academically Qualified Person

cscs white card Academically Qualified Person

If you have a degree, HND, HNC, CIOB Certificate or NEBOSH diploma related to construction, this is your card. It's intention is to recognise qualifications related to construction besides NVQs.  With this card your qualifications are recognised and you can also enter the construction site.

Required Qualifications

You will need an academic construction-related qualification to apply for this card. There is a list of acceptable degrees and qualifications on the CSCS website. 

Basically, qualifications should be in construction, building, engineering, or an applicable area of property services.

You will need to provide the CSCS with any duplicate qualification certificates. Also, information regarding units completed in acquiring this qualification.  It is necessary to complete the CITB Managers and Professionals Health, Safety, and Environment Test successfully within the past two years. 

What is accessible with this card?

It was following criticism about this CSCS card scheme that made this a favourite NVQ above others. Therefore, blocking those acquiring related construction qualifications from opposing bodies of certification.  This card will give employers the necessary evidence of your experience and academic credentials. 

How long is the card valid--can it be renewed?

This card holds its validity for five years and following that may be renewed.

PQP White CSCS Card - Professionally Qualified Person

cscs white card Professionally Qualified Person

This is a card that is for the person who has an occupation in which they may need periodic access on a construction site.  This would be land surveyors or architects.  These professionals need a CSCS card to verify they are familiar with the standards for the safety and health of the site. 

Required Qualifications

This card is bestowed upon professional individuals who are members of an authorised professional body.  It is recognised by the CSCS to be a participant of this body one must meet rigid criteria for access.  To be a member of this body this individual has already shown the verification of this evidence.  Being able to show proof of membership to this authorised professional body is sufficient to acquire a PQP CSCS card.

In addition, the individual must be successful at the CITB Managers and Professionals Health, Safety, and Environment Test.  The person must be able to prove this has been done within the past two years.

What is accessible with this card?

With this card in your possession you show verification of your professional certification in your occupational field.  It also shows you have credentials appropriate to safely gain entry onto a site for construction.  It is becoming more commonplace for construction sites to require a CSCS card to those requiring access to a site.  Therefore, in order for you to do your job efficiently, it will be necessary to have the PQP CSCS Card.

How long is the card valid/can it renew?

The PQP CSCS card is good for a term of five years and following that may be renewed if desired.

CSCS Cards that have been Discontinued by the CSCS

The CSCS has discontinued a variety of cards over the years. If you possess a discontinued card you will need to renew and apply for the appropriate new version.

Most recently, the Yellow CSCS Card expired on 31st August 2020.  These cards will not be issued any longer as of the 28th February 2020. 

Trainee (Craft and Operative) Card removed August 2016: If you hold this card you must re-apply for a Red CSCS Trainee Card. 

Trainee (Tech, Supervisory and Management) this card removed August 2016:  This is now the Red CSCS Trainee Card.

Construction Site Operative (CSO) card removed July 2014: This card is now called Green CSCS Labourer Card.

Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card withdrawn April 2017: Check on the CSCS Card Finder site to determine what card now fits the current occupation you are in now.

Conclusion

You will discover that in order to be employed in construction it is becoming a mandatory requirement to hold one of these CSCS cards.  It doesn't matter what your position is; from entry-level to professional, possessing one of these cards is a necessity. 

Check out the CSCS card online guide to determine which card is right for you.  You can also use this site to keep yourself aware of any changes when they occur.  

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