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To apply for a skilled level CSCS card, an applicant must hold a nationally recognised construction related qualification.

There is a common misconception that CSCS only accepts NVQs as proof of qualification. In reality, CSCS accepts a wide variety of qualifications, which are listed below:

If you do not have a recognised qualification CSCS can issue you with a temporary card. Before a temporary card can be issued you must be registered onto the appropriate qualification for your occupation. The card you receive will not be renewable, but it will be valid for long enough for you to complete your qualification. You can then apply for one of CSCS’ skilled cards.


Vocational Qualifications

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

Description: NVQs measure your competence against a set framework for a particular skill. This framework is known as a National Occupational Standard. NVQs have multiple levels. Higher levels require an applicant to demonstrate more complex skills. Level 2 NVQs are required for blue skilled CSCS cards, level 3 NVQs for gold CSCS cards and level 5, 6 and 7 NVQs (in a construction management qualification) for black cards.

NVQs are assessed on practical assignments and a portfolio of evidence that an applicant builds up. Normally an assessor will observe the applicant working and question them about the work they do. The assessor will then sign-off individual units within the NVQ once the applicant has reached the required standard.

Experienced workers can do an NVQ via On Site Assessments (OSAT) or Experienced Worker Practical Assessments (EWPA). These assessments result in the achievement of full NVQs but are quicker and cheaper than a traditional NVQ assessment. However they require the applicant to have several years experience in their occupation.

Scotland uses Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) instead of NVQs, but the fundamentals of the qualifications are the same.

Cards available: Skilled card, Advanced Craft card, Supervisor card, Manager card


Description: In an apprenticeship, an employer formally takes on an apprentice as a paid employee and provides them with training along a recognised apprenticeship standard while they work. This is followed by an assessment at the end of the apprenticeship.

Cards available: Skilled card, Advanced Craft card

Academic Qualifications

Higher National Certificates (HNCs)/Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)

Description: HNCs and HNDs are courses provided by higher and further education colleges in technical skills. HNDs are one level higher than HNCs and so take longer to complete. HNC courses last one year (2 if taken part time) while HND courses take 2 years (4 if taken part time). You can find out more about the AQP card here.

Cards available: AQP Card

Degrees and Postgraduate Diplomas/Certificates

Description: a degree is a qualification awarded by an academic institution such as a university. There are different levels of degree, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates, but not all degree levels will get a CSCS card. You can find out more about the AQP card here.

Cards available: AQP Card

Professional Qualifications

Professional Body Membership

Description: The membership of certain professional bodies has been approved by CSCS as equivalent to a qualification. These professional bodies assess the competence of their members as part of their membership. You can find out more about the PQP card here.

Cards available: PQP Card

Historical Qualifications

CSCS recognises that construction workers may hold a number of older qualifications which are no longer available. If you hold one of these historical qualifications, then please call us on 0344 994 4777* to find out if you are eligible for a CSCS card.

*(Please note: Our phonelines are temporarily closed. Click here for more information)

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