How to get a CSCS card

Working in the construction sector is fast-paced and rewarding. In the UK it offers the opportunity to work on some of the world’s most forward-thinking and exciting projects. However, in order to work in construction, it’s beneficial to have a CSCS card, particularly if working through an agency.

What is a CSCS card?

CSCS stands for ‘Construction Skills Certification Scheme’. It came to life about 25 years ago in a bid to improve safety and progress the knowledge of those working in the industry.

The CSCS card is proof that an individual has passed the required training and certifications to carry out work on a construction site.

Is it required? Actually, no. It depends on the contractor if they require a CSCS card but it’s not a legal requirement. However, UK law does state that for anyone working on a construction site they must be able to prove their competence.

One of the ways to do this is by having an NVQ in a trade, a degree in a related discipline or by completing the CSCS certification. Ultimately, with a CSCS card, you will have a better understanding of site safety, keeping you and your colleagues safer and the project on track.

How much does the CSCS card cost?

The CSCS card costs £30 and the health and safety (HS&E) test costs £19.50. Don’t work with agencies or organisations that will charge over and above that rate unless there are additional services that are offered to you that you think will be of value.

What does the test consist of?

The test is multiple choice with 50 questions and is based on a case study or industry sector knowledge questions. Examples of such questions include:

  1. Blue healthy and safety signs can be classed as:

    A. Stop signs
    B. Hazard signs
    C. Prohibition signs
    D. Mandatory signs

  2. What should you do if you discover children playing on a building site?
    A. Escort them to a safe place immediately
    B. Report it to your supervisor
    C. Call the police
    D. Inform the HSE

  3. Which type of fire extinguishers are colour coded black and cream
    A. Foam and water
    B. Dry powder and CO2
    C. CO2 and foam
    D. Water and CO2

Each test is different and difficulty levels depend on what level you are. For entry-level construction workers the questions are fairly simple. For site managers they are more difficult as it’s the equivalent of an NVQ level 7.

The test is taken at a CITB approved test centre on a computer, ensure that you arrive 15 minutes before the test is due to begin. That way you can get settled, find your way to the testing room and prepare for the test in a calm manner.

How can I prepare?

To pass the test you need to score 47 out of 50 right answers. First off, do some research into the level of CSCS card you will be taking, then buy a book on that level. There are some very helpful books out there that will prepare you for the test – maybe ask a friend or family member who has passed the test already to give you their copy of their book.

Once you feel confident that you know the answers and could pass the test, there is a host of mock tests that you can do. Check this website out for CSCS mock tests by clicking here.

What happens once I’ve passed?

Once you’ve passed your card will be sent to you in the post the next day. If you don’t receive it within 10 working days contact CSCS. Once you receive it the CSCS card lasts up to five years depending on the level of the qualification.

Best of luck with the test, it opens a lot of opportunities in the construction sector. If you would like to discuss these opportunities further, please contact MEP Resourcing on 0151 665 0170 or browse our jobs page.