Requirements for working in construction in the UK

bricklayer - Julie Kertesz
Photo: Julie Kertesz

We have recently received dozens of messages and questions about this topic, so we decided to write this blog post about job offers for builders and other construction jobs in the UK.

The recent news about salaries of £1000 a week for builders comes from a report by Manpower UK, which explains that, in some cases, companies have been forced to pay those salaries. However, the average job offer I’ve seen is around £150 per work day. As usual, salary changes depending on position, category, experience, etc.

To work in the construction sector in the UK, it is mandatory to have the CSCS – Construction Skills Certification Scheme – card, and in most cases, be registered as self-employed in the UK, because many companies hire people on a project by project basis.

Therefore, I’m going to explain both requirements as well as I can, hoping to clarify some doubts.

How to become self-employed in the UK

This is an easy question, because we have an in-depth post about how to process all the paperwork. It’s much easier in every respect than in Spain or similar EU countries, as well as cheaper.

How to start a business or be self-employed in the UK

What is the CSCS card and how do I get it?

That’s also easy to answer.

The CSCS is a card that certifies you have passed an exam that proves that you have the basic knowledge to perform the functions of a specific job. There are different types, depending on the position or the profession (for builders, electricians, plumbers, managers, etc.), each of them with its own specific exam.

Don’t panic: the questions will be focused on safety in the workplace, with logic you can answer almost without studying, although it is important to look for the British standards first.

The exams for the CSCS consist of 50 questions. Five incorrect answers are allowed. The price is about £20.

One good thing is that you can ask to take the exam in your language or with an interpreter, if requested upon registration (online or by phone).

The kind of CSCS card and its colour will depend on your degree. If you don’t have any British NVQ or its equivalent, you will start with the red CSCS: the TRAINEE. As you get NVQ certificates and pass exams, you will upgrade the card’s category together with your salary.

Official website ➜ www.cscs.uk.com

But, what is the NVQ? The National Vocational Qualifications are work-based awards, with assessment and training. You may attend courses in person or take them online. The duration also varies by degree, from one to six months.

I have a CSCS card, now what?

When you have one of the CSCS cards, you can start working. There are many work agencies, but without living in the UK it will be hard to find a job quickly. Here are some job offers I have just googled now, as an example:

Further information:

There are hundreds of agencies that offer help to get the CSCS cards. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find loads in all the cities throughout the UK. Don’t choose the first one you find. Here you have some examples:

To get the NVW certificates (professional training), there are also many schools that offer courses. Here you have one in Kent that offers all kinds of courses, but they are all in the city. The point is to find the one that best suits you in both price and location:

If you’re looking to work with a truck, you will need a UK certificate:

I think that’s all. I hope this has been helpful!

PS – All the information about living in the UK is on this website. To find jobs, you’ll be fine with Google and a good translator.

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