If you are working in construction in the UK, you have properly heard about the CSCS card. But what is it exactly?
CSCS stand for Construction Skills Certification Scheme, and the whole thing was invented about 25 years ago. It is a card that provide proof that an individual has the required training and qualifications to carry out work on a construction site.
What does it cost?
Before you can apply for the CSCS card you must be certified. That normally requires that you take a CITB Health Safety and Environment Test. Such a test cost £19.50 to take.
Once you have passed that test, you can apply for the CSCS card, which will cost you £30.
But be aware! There have been examples of companies overcharging the prices for the tests. These mentioned fees are the standard, so if you’re being charged more than that, you should make sure that you understand what additional services you will receive. To know more about booking the appropriate test, read more about that below.
Booking the test
At first glance, the whole system can appear a bit complicated with loads of different coloured cards showing people’s qualifications in different areas of construction skills. The number of colours has recently been reduced, but to make it more complicated, one colour card can cover many things. However, things have been made easier now through cscs.uk. On the site you’re able to use their online card-finder to figure out what kind of test and CSCS card you need, based on your occupation.
You’re also able to call them and have people at the other end of the line asking you the questions and be able to advise which card an applicant you should be applying for. That makes the whole decision-making process easy. Once that bit is over, you will be given a date on which you can take an online test in a center.
How is the test?
Okay. So you booked the test and everything is set, but how will the test be, you might wonder? The test is a multichoice based test with 50 questions that you have 45 minutes to answer. The questions can be case study or knowledge questions, but the difficulty of the test depends on the type. For entry-level construction workers such as labourers or apprentices, the questions and answers are pretty simple. Moving to the other end of it though, for people like contract managers, their test is actually very demanding as their card is equivalent to an NVQ 7.
Once you book the test, it will take place at a CITB-approved test centre where you can use a computer to take the test online. Make sure to be there 15 minutes before your test begin.
How can you prepare for the test?
There is different ways that you can prepare for the test. You could buy a book with information that can help you prepare for the specific grade of card you’re going to apply for. There are different books out there, which will give you loads of questions and answers that would appear in the test. A good thing is to buy the latest addition though because the different tests keeps getting updated. And then keep reading the book from cover to cover until you are able to pass the test. You will need to score 47 out of 50 questions correct in order to pass.
Another thing you can do, is to go online and use some of the free tests of there. You can find a bunch of tests here.
Is a CSCS card a legal requirement?
No, it is not a legal requirement. It is up to the different contractors if they require workers on their site to hold CSCS cards. But the law in the UK states that anyone undertaking construction work need to be competent. And a way of showing that, is by having a CSCS card as a proof of that. Another things is that if you’re working in an unsafe manner because you don’t know better, the site manager will get fined or imprisoned. That eventually lead to you getting fired.
How long does it take to get a CSCS card?
It doesn’t take long to get a CSCS card. Once you have paid for the CSCS card, it will be posted to you the next working day. You will just have to wait then, and normally you can expect the card to be there in around 10 days. Be aware that if your card has not been delivered within five weeks of your application, you should contact CSCS. After 90 days your application will be considered closed, and you will then need to pay an additional payment of £30 to reprocess an application.
How long can you keep your CSCS card?
It depends on the type of CSCS card that you are applying for. But in general most of the cards can last five years. Once you have your card, you can read the expiry date on it.
If you need to renew your card, you will have to prove once again that you have the appropriate training and qualification that your job need. That means you will need to retake the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test.
By preparing for the test, you will get a better chance of passing it. The CSCS card is good to have, and something most employers will require that you have (at least in the UK). Therefore, if you are in construction and know what kind of card you need, start preparing today and take the exam to get your CSCS card.
Prepare by taking our quiz and other quizzes online or buy a book that can help improve your knowledge, and make sure that you pass the final test. We wish you the best of luck.