Obtaining a valid CSCS card is usually a necessity in order to gain access to a construction site. However, there are plenty of different CSCS types and the one you hold will determine the level of competence and knowledge you have, which in turn will dictate the type of work for which you are eligible.
It is therefore important you get the most appropriate CSCS card, although you will generally need a certain level of Construction NVQ to qualify for particular CSCS cards.
CSCS Cards Requiring no Construction NVQ
If you only need a visitor CSCS card, no NVQ is necessary at all. You can also get CSCS cards for various construction-related activities or that show you are a professionally qualified person. These don’t require an NVQ but the latter will demand that you are a member of an approved professional body.
However, although these types of CSCS card will give you access to most construction sites, they won’t entitle you to do much while you’re there. So, if you’re actually involved in construction work, you need to aim for other CSCS cards and will need to have the required NVQ level to do so.
When you’re new to the profession, you can obtain a trainee CSCS card that will be valid while you’re undergoing your training. A similar CSCS card is available if you have work experience but no formal qualifications. In these cases, you’re not expected to have obtained an NVQ but must be registered for one, which will generally be at level 2 NVQ or level 3 NVQ.
NVQ Levels and CSCS Cards
If you’re an operative with basic site skills, you’ll need either a Construction NVQ level 1 or a recommendation from your employer to indicate that you are competent. This latter requirement will only apply for a limited time and you will need to obtain your Construction NVQ eventually to renew the CSCS card.
Skilled workers generally need NVQ level 2 or NVQ level 3, with the actual NVQ level obtained determining the type of CSCS card that is available. NVQ level 3 is also necessary to qualify for a supervisor’s CSCS card while obtaining an level 4 or higher Construction NVQ is required to get a senior manager’s CSCS card.
All CSCS cards will require that holders can operate safely on a construction site. This means applicants have to pass the CSCS health, safety & environment test or an equivalent test. For some cards, you can avoid the need for an NVQ by demonstrating a comparable qualification, such as a City & Guilds. However, having the relevant NVQ level is the surest route to the appropriate CSCS card.