If you want to work in construction, you’re going to need a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card. A CSCS card shows that your work-related skills have been certified.
In other words, it’s proof you can do all the things you say you can.
First, you need to find out what type of CSCS card you need. You can check card types on the CSCS website. Once you’ve selected your occupation and level of training, the system will tell you which kind of card you need to apply for.
Next, you’ll need to complete a CITB Health, safety and environment test. The type of test you need to take depends on your trade and what training you already have, and it costs £21.
Once you’ve done that you need to send off copies of your training certificates to [email protected], then call them up on 0344 994 4777 and pay £36 with a credit or debit card. Your CSCS card will then be posted to you. CSCS no longer accepts postal applications.
The CITB Health, safety and environment test, which you need to take to get your CSCS card, is 45 minutes long, and during this time you'll have to answer 50 multiple choice questions including case study and knowledge questions. The test is taken on a computer at a CITB-approved test centre and you need to arrive 15 minutes before your test begins.
If you’re thinking about skipping the rigmarole of applying and instead just paying for your CSCS card, you wouldn’t be the first person. Back in 2016 CITB revoked over 4,500 CSCS cards after it emerged that a number of training centres had been issuing the cards for cash. So the answer is no, you can't buy a CSCS card.
CSCS cards are not a legal requirement, but most major contractors require workers on their sites to hold them. The law states that anyone undertaking construction work must be competent, and the certification scheme is one of the main ways of demonstrating relevant skills and training.
Getting a CSCS card can open many new doors for a skilled tradesman and most employers will insist you have one before you can work on their site. You'll find that many job adverts state that workers must have CSCS cards as proof of their competence.
The good news is that once you’ve paid for your CSCS card, it'll be posted the next working day, so you shouldn’t have to wait long for it to arrive.
Once you’ve applied for your CSCS card and are ready to establish yourself, you might want to check out our quick-start guide to building your brand as a tradesman.
How long your CSCS card lasts depends on the card you're applying for, but most cards last for five years. When you get your card it'll show an expiry date.
To renew your CSCS card you need to prove again that you have the appropriate training and qualifications for your job, and you need to retake the CITB Health, safety and environment test.
You can then call the CSCS contact centre to pay £36 over the phone and provide details of your current or previous employer. You can't apply to renew your card until six months before your current card's expiry date.
Have you applied for a CSCS card? How did you find the process? Let us know in the comments below.
We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer
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