Information on CSCS cards

CSCS cards for archaeologists – a joint statement from CIfA and FAME

  • CSCS is the leading skills certification scheme within the UK construction industry. CSCS cards provide proof that individuals working on construction sites have the required training and qualifications for the type of work they carry out.

  • The current system whereby most archaeologists gain CSCS accreditation will change in September 2017 when the current Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card is withdrawn. The CRO card was introduced in 2005 to cover occupations for which there was no nationally recognised qualification and does not require card-holders to demonstrate their skills.

  • CIfA and FAME have been working closely with CSCS to establish the appropriate mechanisms by which archaeologists can achieve CSCS accreditation following the withdrawal of the card. In line with other construction related professions, these will be based around vocational and/or academic qualifications and professional accreditation.

  • CIfA and FAME welcome the changes which recognise the high levels of expertise and skill required by archaeologists alongside other professionals in the construction industry. Both organisations are working hard to ensure that there is a smooth transition to the new arrangements for individuals and organisations.

The following CSCS cards will be available for archaeologists

  • Apprentices' card – available to archaeologists on a recognised apprenticeship scheme provided it contains a basic health and safety element. Card valid for five years. No health and safety test required as it will be covered within the apprenticeship. Trailblazer apprenticeships in Archaeological Technician Level 3 should be available from late 2018. For more information see Historic England Heritage Apprenticeships

  • Trainee card – available to students or trainees registered on a recognised training course. For an employers’ training scheme to be recognised by CSCS, it will need to be approved by CIfA, as the standards setting body for archaeology. CIfA has designed a framework around National Occupational Standards, for all employers to use and you can find more details here Card valid for five years. Requires the operative level health and safety test.

  • Academically Qualified Person (AQP) card – available to archaeologists with an 'archaeology and heritage degree'. There is currently a lack of clarity from the scheme regarding what qualifies; to be resolved by CIfA, FAME and CSCS agreeing a list of courses. For reasons of pragmatism, these will be very broadly defined initially in order to ease the transition following the withdrawal of the CRO card. Requires the Manager level health and safety test. Valid for five years.

  • Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card - Will be available at three levels, equating to Operative, Supervisor and Manager (= PCIfA, ACIfA, MCIfA) - and with the three corresponding health and safety tests (card to be clearly marked to indicate which level test had been taken). Approval has been gained for the PCIfA level card (agreed by FAME and CIfA as the priority). Mapping for ACIfA and MCIfA will be undertaken late 16/early 17. CIfA membership at appropriate level will need to be maintained in order for cards to be renewed. Card valid for five years.

The* Site Visitor card has been available for those who visit sites in a monitoring role (i.e. those not working directly on site) particularly by senior/project managers, by consultants, and local authority curatorial staff. CSCS are withdrawing the Visitor Card. All Construction Site Visitor cards issued from 3rd September 2018 will expire on 31st August 2020 and CSCS will stop issuing the card from 28th February 2020. You can find out more details here

NOTE: The CSCS website now shows the new option for the Practitioner level PQP card. As further changes are made the site will continue to be updated.

Applying for a Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did CSCS withdraw the Construction Related Occupations (CRO) Card?
CSCS cards were introduced by the Construction Industry Council and the Construction Industry Training Board to improve standards in the construction industry by ensuring that workers had the appropriate skills, qualifications and health and safety knowledge for the work they were undertaking. The CRO card was introduced in 2005 to cover occupations for which there was no nationally recognised qualification. It did not require card-holders to demonstrate their skills and was withdrawn in favour of cards which are based on evidence of competence.

When did the changes come into force?
The CRO card ceased to be accepted in September 2017. No new CRO cards were issued after March 2017. Please note existing CRO cards issued before 1st October 2015 that expire after 30th September 2017 will remain valid until their expiry date. Arrangements for alternative cards (AQP and PQP) are now in place.

My CSCS card runs out next month, what should I do?
That depends on the qualifications and accreditation you already hold. If you are accredited by CIfA (ie PCIfA, ACIfA, MCIfA), you can apply for a Professionally Qualified Person card at Practitioner (PCIfA) level. You will have to sit the Operatives health and safety test and the card will last for 5 years.

If you are not a member of CIfA you can no longer apply for the CRO card but if you have a higher level academic qualification (degree, masters, HNC/HND) you can apply for the AQP card.

Which cards are available to CIfA accredited archaeologists?
CSCS has approved a Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card for archaeologists accredited by CIfA at Practitioner (PCIfA) level. To get the card, you will need to provide evidence of your CIfA accreditation and pass the Operatives’ health and safety test. The card is valid for five years. If you are an Associate (ACIfA) or a Member (MCIfA), you can still apply for the Practitioner level card. CIfA is seeking approval for separate Associate and Member level cards which we hope will be available in the future. When this is in place Associates and Members will need to sit the Supervisors’ and Managers’ health and safety test respectively and the cards will also be valid for five years.

Will I still have to do a health and safety test?
Yes, you will need to pass the appropriate health and safety test for the card you are applying for. For more information on the appropriate health and safety test, please see the CSCS website However, if you've passed your Health, Safety & Environment test within the last two years it will still be valid - as long as it's at the appropriate level for the card you're applying for

I’m not accredited by CIfA: which card should I apply for?
If you are accredited by another professional body you should check whether it is recognised by CSCS, if it is you may be able to apply for a PQP card. If not and you have a degree in archaeology or a closely related subject, you can apply for an Academically Qualified Person (AQP) card. You will need to provide proof of your qualification to CSCS (eg your degree certificate) and pass the Managers’ health and safety test. The card is valid for five years. If your qualification is a non-UK one you will need to have it verified by NARIC before applying to CSCS for an AQP card

I’m not accredited and I don’t have a degree in archaeology: what can I do?
In order to obtain a CSCS card, you must be able to demonstrate that you are competent for the work you undertake, either through a relevant qualification or by becoming professionally accredited. In archaeology the options currently available are (a) to undertake an NVQ in Archaeological Practice at Level 3, (b) to gain an academic qualification (HND, Foundation Degree, BA, BSc, MA, MSc) in archaeology or a closely related subject or (c) to achieve professional accreditation through accreditation by CIfA or the Institute of Conservation. If you are at the start of your career and are on a recognised employer training programme or undertaking an Apprenticeship, you could apply for an Apprentice or Trainee card.

I’ve got a degree in archaeology, but I didn’t do any fieldwork as part of it: can I still apply for the Academically Qualified Person card?
*You can at the moment although this may change in the future so it is worth checking with CSCS.

I studied archaeology at degree level but my degree certificate says 'Batchelor of Arts' without specifying the subject
You may also need to supply proof of the modules that you studied at university in order to prove that archaeology formed the major part of your degree. If you can't produce this you should contact your university who should be able to produce a transcript of your modules or evidence that you studied in the archaeology department. If your university cannot provide this then it would be worth enquiring with their student services department if they upload degree information to the HEDD website HEDD can verify (to third parties such as employers and with candidates permission) if a candidate is a current or past student of a university or college, the award and grade they received, and the dates of attendance. There is a small fee for this service

What if my qualification is from a non-British university?
Non-UK qualifications will need to be checked via NARIC before an application for the AQP card have been made. Please note that there have recently been changes in the way that NARIC map skills for certain CSCS cards. These changes affect applications for AQP cards because CSCS now require non-UK qualifications to have a Primary Source Verification (PSV) check as well as a Statement of Comparability and, if necessary, an official translation. More details here and here

I want to get a Professionally Qualified Person card, but I’m not currently accredited by CIfA . How long will it take for my application to go through?
CIfA already have the mechanisms in place to deal with an increase in applications and our staff and committee are ready to implement these to ensure that applications are dealt with in a timely manner. Applications for CIfA accreditation are considered by a Validation committee. Applicants are recommended to allow at least eight weeks for the application process, we will email to confirm receipt. Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have provided the Validation committee with all the information it needs to consider your application. For further information and a schedule of meeting dates and deadlines for submission go to.

How much will it cost and will my employer help me?
A PQP card from CSCS currently costs £30 but will go up to £36 from September 2018 and the fee for the health and safety test is £21 ( Please check current costs with CSCS and be aware that agencies can charge considerably more. You can find further information about the costs of CIfA accreditation here. CIfA and FAME will be strongly encouraging Registered Organisations and members who employ staff to support their employees in gaining both CSCS and where appropriate CIfA accreditation. Many ROs and other organisations already pay all CSCS costs and contribute at least 50% of their employees’ professional subscriptions. .

Our organisation needs to get a lot of people onto these new cards quickly. What support is CIfA offering?
CIfA already have the mechanisms in place to deal with an increase in applications and our staff and committee are ready to implement these to ensure that applications are dealt with in a timely manner. Applicants can help us to make sure the process runs smoothly by ensuring the information they provide on application form is clear, accurate and complete with sufficient evidence of competence to enable the Validation Committee to assess their application. References not being provided by nominated referees is a common cause of delay so applicants should make sure they have contacted their referees in advance. Organisations can assist by ensuring their staff submit their applications in good time (allowing at least eight weeks for processing) and by ensuring that references are provided by the deadline. If you anticipate a large number of your staff submitting applications in order to meet a specific deadline, please contact CIfA as soon as possible to discuss timescales.

Our organisation has tried hard to recruit a diverse, local, and skilled workforce. Not everyone is professionally or academically qualified, but they are highly experienced and competent and we rely on them to deliver our projects. We are concerned this new scheme makes it much harder for our people to work on projects that require CSCS cards.
In order to obtain a CSCS card, all those working in construction or a related occupation must be able to demonstrate that they are competent for the work they undertake through appropriate vocational, academic or professional qualifications or accreditation. Competent, experienced staff should have no problems providing sufficient evidence of their skills in support of an application for professional accreditation and CIfA and FAME strongly encourage their members to support their staff in this respect. Alternatively, you might consider supporting staff to achieve a vocational or academic qualification. The new requirements recognise the high levels of skill that archaeologists have.

Our organisation has operated a successful 'on the job' training system in the past which has worked well (we don't have the resources for a formal structured scheme like the larger companies). We are concerned that our system will not pass the test of CIfA’s new training standard and so deny our trainees cards.
In order for CSCS to recognise trainee positions they require training courses to be validated and have asked CIfA to do this. The key criteria for a training programme to be recognised by CIfA are that it

  • Has defined learning outcomes aligned to National Occupational Standards
  • Is delivered by appropriately competent trainers
  • Has formal review points built in as well as opportunities for informal feedback
  • Encourages CPD
  • Delivers professional as well as technical skills

CIfA and FAME are working to support all organisations to put in place robust training that works for both employers and employees. CIfA is preparing an outline training plan aligned to National Occupational Standards for Registered Organisations and others to use if required. You can also find examples of detailed training plans on our website at Further advice and guidance on setting up a structured training programme is available in the recent Professional Practice Paper and template learning agreements are also available. If you need further support, please contact Anna Welch at anna.welch [at]

This new scheme simply adds cost while providing no new benefit. Why have CIfA and FAME agreed to it?
The changes to the CSCS scheme are being introduced by CSCS and the Construction Industry Council and apply to all construction related occupations previously covered by the CRO Card. CIfA and FAME are working with CSCS to ensure that the transition to the new arrangements is as smooth as possible.

The changes bring our sector into line with other construction related professions and, by recognising the high levels of skills required by archaeologists, support FAME’s campaign to raise the profile of archaeologists within the construction process and CIfA’s promotion of the importance of professional accreditation.

Who should I contact at CIfA or FAME for further help or advice?

If you are a CIfA member or Registered Organisation please contact Anna Welch at CIfA at anna.welch [at]

For CIfA membership related enquiries, please contact Lianne Birney at lianne.birney [at]

At FAME, you should contact Nick Shepherd at info [at]

You can contact CSCS via their helpline on 0344 994 4777 or via their website at There is also an online cardfinder*