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How to get CPCS card?

A Brief Overview: Obtaining a CPCS Card in the UK

In the UK, the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card is a critical accreditation for those looking to operate plant machinery on construction sites. Securing this card demonstrates that the holder possesses the necessary skills and knowledge to work efficiently and safely. This guide will provide insights into the process of obtaining the CPCS card, its duration, and the route to a blue CPCS card without an NVQ.

How long does it take to get a CPCS?

The time it takes to obtain a CPCS card varies based on your experience, training requirements, and the specific category of plant machinery you aim to be endorsed for. Generally, it can be broken down into two main components: training and testing.

  1. Training: Depending on your existing experience, you might need training. Training can range from a few days to a few weeks.
  2. Testing: After training, candidates must pass both a theory test and a practical test. This process can take between one to two days.

Hence, the entire process can span anywhere from a week to a month, depending on individual circumstances.

Understanding the CPCS Card Tiers

Before diving into the specifics of acquiring a blue CPCS card without an NVQ, it’s essential to comprehend the different card tiers within the CPCS scheme.

“A skilled workforce is built on a foundation of training and accreditation.”

  • Red CPCS Trained Operator Card: This is an entry-level card, valid for two years. It indicates that the holder has passed CPCS theory and practical tests but has yet to achieve an NVQ.
  • Blue CPCS Competent Operator Card: This card is valid for five years and is renewable. To get this card, one must have a relevant NVQ and have passed the CPCS theory and practical tests.

How do I get a blue CPCS card without NVQ?

Traditionally, obtaining a blue CPCS Competent Operator Card requires the completion of a relevant NVQ. However, if you have extensive experience in the industry and can prove your competence in another manner, there’s a pathway called the Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA).

Steps to get a Blue CPCS Card through EWPA:

  1. Professional Discussion: Engage in a structured conversation with an assessor, discussing and showcasing your experience, responsibilities, and tasks.
  2. Portfolio Submission: Create a portfolio that encapsulates evidence of your skills, experience, and competencies over the years.
  3. Practical Assessment: Undergo a practical test to demonstrate your skills in real-time.

After successful completion of these steps, you’ll be awarded an NVQ, making you eligible for the blue CPCS card.

Benefits of the Blue CPCS Card

The blue CPCS card isn’t just another certification; it’s a testament to your skills and competence in the industry. It:

  • Boosts your employability and opens up better job opportunities.
  • Validates your skills and experience in the construction industry.
  • Ensures a safer work environment, as cardholders are expected to operate machinery competently.


Acquiring a CPCS card is a rigorous but rewarding process, ensuring that only the most competent and safe operators work on UK construction sites. Whether you’re starting fresh or leveraging your extensive experience through EWPA, the journey to obtaining your blue CPCS card is a testament to your commitment to excellence in the industry.

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