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Step 1 – Obtaining A Red Card

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme’s (CPCS) Red Trained Operator Card, also referred to as the red card, displays and showcases the skills and knowledge of plant operatives in the construction sector.

The CPCS Red Card, is a card offered by the CPCS for those beginning their career in plant operation. The CPCS Red Card lasts for 2 years and enables an individual to work in their chosen field (under supervision) while they work towards the relevant NVQ or other relevant vocational qualification.

How to obtain a CPCS Red Card?

The process to get a Red Trained Operator Card can be broken down into four steps as follows:

Step one: CPCS Training

The candidate operator must undergo training in the chosen area of plant machinery or construction site equipment, for example a dumper, roller or excavator.

The CPCS has a wide range of categories related to plant operation which have specific training requirements for each.

Carry out any training necessary to bring you up to the standard required to enable you to pass the CPCS technical test. This can be delivered by approved CPCS training providers.

Step two: Pass the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test

The candidate must pass the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) test to prove that your health and safety knowledge is sufficient in order to undertake your role safely.

The HS&E touch screen assessment can be done at the nearest Pearson VUE centre by registering on the Pearson VUE website.

To apply for the CPCS Red Card or to attend a technical theory and practical test, you will need to have passed this HS&E test within the last 2 years.

Step three: Take CPCS theory test

The CPCS theory test for each category of plant will consist of a batch of questions that they must correctly answer 80% to achieve to the standards.

This is done by a verbal answer over a Dictaphone, so no need for any reading or writing should anyone have any learning difficulties.

This test must be undertaken at an accredited CPCS Test Centre and within two years of a successful CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test.

Step four: Take CPCS practical test

The final stage of the application process is to take the CPCS Practical Test is often attempted straight after passing the CPCS theory test.

This practical test needs to be taken within 6 months of passing your CPCS Theory Test.

A practical test involves a qualified official observing candidates go through pre-start checks, operating and various other activities related to the plant they intend to work at.

This test will assess your ability to operate your chosen area of plant machinery and is conducted by a CPCS Tester at a CPCS Test Centre.

After completing these four stages and have passed the practical test, the CPCS test centre will request the CPCS Trained Operator (Red) card on your behalf.

It has a validity of two years and is non-renewable.

You need to take your relevant NVQ in order to upgrade your qualification to the Blue Competent Operator Card.

SB Skills Solutions is a fully accredited CPCS Test Centre and we offer training and testing services in the construction sector.

Have any questions? Give us a call today on 01695 558420 or send an email to

Alternatively, complete the contact form on our website and a member of our team will be in touch.