Construction Qualifications and Certificates and How to Get Them

The Most Common Certificates & Qualifications Required For Construction

There are many very useful qualifications and certificates required to work within the construction sector as follows:

  1. CSCS Card Certification

Why you need it – Most employers will require that a construction worker has a CSCS card.

Jobs you need it for – Almost every construction job where you work on a site requires a CSCS card.

How long it lasts – Most CSCS cards are valid for 2-5 years.

How to get it – Go to the CSCS website and complete the steps listed:

  • You will need to pass the CITB Health, safety & Environment test relevant to your occupation which can be booked here. Find out what test you need to take here.
  • You are also likely to need a health & safety qualification based on your job title. This is normally a multiple choice computer based test which can be taken at a test centre. The list of qualifications that will qualify for your job title can be found here.

For a labourer without a health & safety qualification, the easiest way to get a CSCS is by completing the Health & Safety Test.

Cost – A CSCS card itself costs £36 and the CITB health & safety test costs £21


  1. CPCS

Why you need it – The CPCS scheme shows that you have the skills to operate relevant machinery. It also shows that you have a health and safety awareness of the machinery you are operating.

Jobs you need it for – Most plant operators require a CPCS card, including:

  • 360 Excavator Operator
  • Telehandler Operator
  • Tower Crane Operator
  • Telescopic Forklift Driver
  • Hoist Operative
  • Groundworker
  • Dumper Driver

How long it lasts – The CPCS blue card lasts for 2 year and is non-renewable. The CPCS red card lasts for 5 years and is renewable.

How to get it – There are two types of CPCS card; a red and a blue one. The red card shows that you are a trained operator, and the blue card shows that you are a competent operator.

For the red card you need to:

  • Carry out training that can be given by a trainer
  • Pass CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test
  • Pass CPCS Theory Test
  • Pass CPCS Practical Test

For the blue card you need to:

  • Do an SVQ or NVQ in the category you are applying for
  • Pass CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test
  • Pass CPCS Theory Test
  • Pass CPCS Practical Test

The tests can be taken at an approved CPCS test center. For full details on how to get the card, please see the CITB website. The courses can take anywhere from 4-9 days.

Cost – The cost depends on what card you have, what machinery it is for, and what test center you go to. You can expect to pay anywhere in the region of £500-£2000.


  1. SMSTS

Why you need it – The SMSTS certificate shows that you have knowledge of health and safety practices, CDM regulations, risk assessment, and other construction practices.

Jobs you need it for – Main jobs requiring SMSTS are:

  • Site Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Site Supervisor

How long it lasts – The certificate lasts for 5 years.

How to get it – The course can be booked on the CITB website. It can be taken in a 5 day block, or one day a week over 5 weeks.

Cost – From £615


  1. First Aid At Work

Why you need it – First aider’s are needed in all construction sites.

Jobs you need it for – This certificate is required mainly for managers.

The main job titles where this is required are:

  • Site Manager
  • Site Engineer
  • Project Manager

How long it lasts – 3 years.

How to get it – The easiest way to get the first aid at work qualification is to do the 3 day St John Ambulance course. This can be booked online.

Cost – The course costs between £250-£350.


  1. Asbestos Awareness

Why you need it – Anyone who works in an environment where asbestos is present is legally required to have asbestos training

Jobs you need it for – Any job where you will be working on a building built before the year 2000.

Examples of these occupations are:

  • General maintenance workers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Joiners
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Roofers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Telecommunication engineers
  • Fire/burglar alarm installers
  • Computer and data installers
  • Architects
  • Building surveyors

How long it lasts – Most courses do not carry an expiry date, however an employer may require you to take one every 12 months.

How to get it – The UKATA has a list of training providers on their website. This course may be done online.

Cost – £0-£25


  1. SSSTS

Why you need it – The SSSTS course is will help you in understanding health and safety, what is expected of a supervisor, and teach construction best practices.

Jobs you need it for – Most jobs where you have supervisory responsibilities, such as:

  • Team leader
  • Foreman
  • Ganger
  • Site supervisor

How long it lasts – 5 years

How to get it – The course can be booked on the CITB website. It will take 2 days to complete.

Cost – The course normally costs £300-£400


  1. ECS

Why you need it – The ECS card shows that you meet a health & safety standard in the electro-technical industry.

Jobs you need it for – The main job that the ECS is required for is and Electrician, as well as anyone else working in the electro-technical industry.

How long it lasts – 18 months – 3 years depending on the type of card

How to get it – You can apply for the card online at the ECS website. You’re usually requires to have a BS7671 qualification, health & safety certificate, and sometimes an NVQ.

Cost – £48-£60 depending on the method of application