When you work in the construction industry, there are some common qualifications you need, one being a CSCS card. Each card symbolises the cardholder has the right qualifications and can safely perform their relevant professional tasks. Here, we will go through the different types of CSCS card out there and what each one means. 

If you are looking to work in construction but not sure what your options are, we have information on the main routes here that you can use to help you.  

What is a CSCS card? 

Your CSCS card is a representation of your valid qualifications and experience, showing that your work-related skills have been certified to the industry standard. It’s a little like your driving licence, showing you’ve passed both the theory and practical tests to be able to drive a car. 

CSCS cards are not a legal requirement, but they are one of the most commonly used cards and most major contractors do require workers on their sites to hold them.  

Which CSCS card do you need? 

You need the CSCS card which most accurately matches your occupation and qualifications in the construction industry. CSCS online, the official site for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme has an online card finder so you can check which card you should apply for, or you can speak to your training centre, or employer for guidance. Apprentices can apply for a CSCS card for free.

What does the colour of the CSCS card relate to? 

CSCS cards come in different colours and some will have your construction qualifications listed on the back of the card (typically a manager’s card or advanced craftsmen). We go through each card below. 

The CITB Operative health, safety and environment (HS&E) test is a requirement for most CSCS cards and must be passed within two years prior to applying for any card. The only time this is different is if you are applying for a Black or Gold card, which has a specific HS&E test attached for specialist, managerial and professional roles. 

Green CSCS card – Labourer 

As its name suggests, people who have this card work on construction sites in any role which is considered a labouring occupation like bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing etc.  

It’s for entry-level workers, showing an understanding of how a construction site is run and the importance of health and safety. 

There are a range of qualifications that are accepted in application for the Green CSCS Labourer Card, the main ones are: 

  • QCF Level 1/SCQF Level 4 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment 
  • SCQF Level 5 REHIS Elementary Health and Safety Certificate 

For a full list of card requirements, head to the CSCS page for Green CSCS Cards

Red CSCS card – Apprentice 

If you are in the process of completing or have completed an apprenticeship on an accredited apprenticeship scheme that is recognised by CSCS, this is the card you will need to demonstrate your training. To qualify you will need to prove you are registered on a valid apprenticeship scheme and have a passed a CITB HS&E test for Operatives. This card is valid for 4.5 years and cannot be renewed. 

After you complete your apprenticeship, you may qualify for a Blue Skilled Worker or Gold Advanced Craft card. Again, you will need to have a valid CITB HS&E test. 

Red CSCS card – Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager 

The Technical, Supervisory and Management Trainee card is a temporary card, valid for three years. It cannot be renewed. 

To qualify for this card, you must have at least one years’ experience working within this role on a construction site and have done this within the last three years. 

This card is for people who have practical experience and are currently working towards a construction-related qualification. That’s why it is a temporary card, as it is designed to be upgraded once the construction qualification has been completed. 

Red CSCS card – Experienced Worker 

This is another temporary card, valid for one year and it cannot be renewed. It shows experience and that you are in the process of completing a construction-related qualification. 

Like the Red Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager Card, you need a year’s experience in a construction-related role, but also need to show you are currently undertaking a CSCS recognised NVQ/SVQ qualification. The evidence of this must come from your training provider and include information such as your name, the level of qualification and the date your course started. This must be within the previous two years.  

For more information about the Red Experienced Worker Card, click here

Red CSCS card – Trainee 

You are likely to need this card if you are just starting out in the construction industry. The Trainee Card demonstrates you are currently undertaking training, be that vocational, academic or professional, but have passed the essential operatives CITB HS&E test. 

To qualify you have to provide evidence of the course you are on and have passed the Operatives CITB HS&E test within the last two years. The Red CSCS Trainee Card is valid for five years and cannot be renewed. 

Blue CSCS Card – Skilled Worker 

These card holders will have already achieved a qualification in construction or completed an apprenticeship. To qualify for this card, you must have one of the following construction-related qualifications: 

  • Level 2 NVQ or SVQ 
  • NARIC report and certificate equivalent to NVQ level 2 
  • Completed employer-sponsored apprenticeship. This should also include the achievement of a City and Guilds of London Institute Craft Certificate 
  • CITB HS&E test - depending on role, either Operatives, Specialist or Managers & Professionals.  

The Blue CSCS Skilled Worker Card is valid for five years and is eligible for renewal. Often people who are experienced in their construction role, but do not meet the qualification requirements, qualify for a Red CSCS Experienced Worker Card instead. 

Gold CSCS card – Advanced Craft 

The Gold CSCS Advanced Craft Card is an advanced level card which shows you are highly skilled within your field in the construction industry and hold advanced NVQ/SVQ qualifications. It is valid for five years and can be renewed. You will need a valid CITB HS&E test to apply for your CSCS card. 

Gold CSCS card – Supervisory 

Similar to the other Gold Card, this one proves you have advanced qualifications, but also that you have experience in supervising other workers within a construction role. To qualify you need a level 3 (occupational work supervisor) or a level 4 (site supervisor) NVQ or SVQ qualification in a construction environment. You will also need to pass the HS&E test for Supervisors. Learn more about the Supervisory Card here

Black CSCS card – Manager 

This card is the highest available CSCS card and is for manager and technical occupations. This advanced level card requires both:   

  • Experience as a manager within the construction industry
  • High-level construction-related qualifications such as an NVQ/SVQ level 4, 5, 6, or 7 within a Construction Management/Technical related subject. 

You must also have a passed the CITB Managers and Professionals HS&E test within the last two years. The card is valid for five years and can be renewed. Head to the CSCS site to learn more about the Black Card

White CSCS card – Academically Qualified Person 

Some people have qualifications other than NVQs. You may hold a degree, NEBOSH diploma or HNC qualification in a construction-related subject. This White AQP CSCS card makes sure these skills are recognised and allows access to a construction site. The full list of academic qualifications recognised are listed here. You will need a valid CITB HS&E test to apply for your White CSCS card.  The card is valid for five years and can be renewed. 

White CSCS card – Professionally Qualified Person 

This white CSCS card is for those who work in a profession which requires visiting a construction site, but not necessarily working on one, or being there regularly. For example, if you work as a surveyor or an architect, you will most likely need this card. It shows you are a certified professional in your field and are qualified to safely access a construction site.  You will need a valid CITB HS&E test to apply for your White CSCS card  This card is valid for five years and is possible to renew.  

How to apply for a CSCS card 

You can check all the different card types on the CSCS website.  

Once you know which card you need and have taken and passed the corresponding CITB HS&E test, you will need to apply online at CSCS with the following:  

  • Scanned copies of your valid construction certificates, or proof you are registered on a relevant construction course 
  • HS&E test ID number  
  • Pay £36 application fee 

CSCS will send your CSCS card in the post. More information on applying is here

Get started in construction 

Thinking of a career in construction? Get started by looking at your options, including taking on an apprenticeship or browsing the various job roles that are out there in the industry. 

Take a look at stories from people in the construction industry, find out how they got there and what they love most about working in their field.