If you work in the electrical industry, you will probably need an ECS Card.

The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) allows those working in the electrical industry to evidence their skills and qualifications, what disciplines they are competent to work in and show they meet the relevant health and safety requirements.

What are ECS Cards and do I need one?

Before applying for an ECS Card you will need to identify which type of card you need to apply for. There are a range of ECS Card types which cover the breadth of occupations and skill levels within the industry – from entry-level to manager, as well as covering related disciplines.

In order to qualify for an ECS Card, you will need to be able to provide evidence that you meet the essential requirements for that card by submitting evidence of your qualifications. You will also need to pass the ECS Card test in order to be eligible to apply for an ECS Card.

Holding an ECS Card provides clear evidence to employers of who you are, what qualifications and skills you hold, and that you have met essential health and safety requirements in order to undertake your role safely.

So, you’re interested in becoming an electrician, electrical tester, electrical engineer or any other electrotechnical-related occupation, you’ll need an ECS Card.

What’s the difference between a CSCS Card and ECS Card?

Just like a CSCS Card, ECS Cards are required to work on most construction sites.   

The ECS scheme is a partner of the CSCS scheme, so if you work in an electrotechnical-related occupation and you’ve been told you need a card, you will need the ECS card.

ECS is a certification scheme, not an application scheme – so your skills will be assessed and certified based on the qualifications evidence you submit. The grade of your card depends on the level of qualifications that you hold.

For instance, to be certified as an installation electrician, you will need a Level 3 NVQ to receive a Gold Card. However, if you trained years ago and do not have a Level 3 NVQ, you can use your industry-recognised standard from the time as proof of the relevant qualifications.  

You can find out about the different types of CSCS Cards here.

ECS Card types

There’s a range of ECS Cards which cover all occupations and skill levels within the electrical industry. The type of card you receive will depend on your job title, qualifications and the level of experience that you have.

ECS Apprentice Card

The ECS Apprentice Card (also known as the white card) is for those taking an electrical or electronic apprenticeship.

Your training provider will usually arrange this card for you, as well as registering you with the JIB. The ECS Apprentice Card will allow you to work on site, although you will still be under strict supervision throughout your time there (just like all apprentices).

To be eligible, you will need to be registered on an apprenticeship or advanced apprenticeship, have a copy of your Training Agreement and passed the ECS HS&E Test.

Learn about construction apprenticeships.

ECS Trainee Card

ECS Trainee Cards are for those who are not undertaking an apprenticeship, but instead enrolled on a formal JIB industry training programme.

Training is usually split into three stages, which come with their own requirements:

  • Stage 1 – For those at the beginning of their training programmes; you will need to provide evidence of your employer’s sponsorship and that you are registered on a training programme, as well as passing the ECS HS&E Test before being able to move on to stage 2
  • Stage 2 – You need to have completed stage 1 and provide a copy of your certificate, as well as stage 1’s previous requirements
  • Stage 3 - You need to have met the previous requirements, as well as provide evidence that you are working towards the AM2 and Level 3 NVQ in a related field, and evidence that you have passed stage 2.

You can find the full list of acceptable certificates here.

ECS Gold Card

If you work in the electrical industry you’ve probably heard of the ECS Gold Card. It is the industry standard recognition that the holder is a qualified electrician.

The Gold Card covers all electrotechnical occupations, as well as those in data communications, fire detection & alarms and emergency & security systems occupations.

To acquire an ECS Gold Card you will need a Level 3 NVQ in a related field, although it doesn’t matter how recent this qualification is. Alternatively, if you have worked in the electrotechnical field for a long time but don’t hold any formal qualifications, you can receive a Gold Card via the Mature Candidate Assessment route.

Other types of card

There’s a wide range of other ECS Cards, such as the ECS Black Card which is for managerial occupations, the Work Experience Card, Provisional Cards and many others.

You can find a full list and their eligibility criteria on the ECS Card website.

How do I get an ECS Card?

The process for acquiring an ECS card is simple.

Firstly, check you’re eligible and have the right qualifications by using ECS’s card checker.

Then, all you need to do is register with MyECS and follow the instructions – make sure you have a passport photo and your certificates to hand.

However, before you can do any of that you need to have passed the ECS HS&E Test…

What is the ECS HS&E Test?

The ECS Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) Test ensures all cardholders have a good level of health and safety knowledge and awareness when on site – you cannot work on a site without it.

It works in a similar way to the CSCS HS&E Test, except it relates specifically to electrotechnical workers.

The test consists of 45 multiple-choice questions surrounding working safely on site, with a pass mark of 85% (38 correct answers). If you are registered with JIB or a member of Unite the Union the cost is £42 – for non-members it is £48.

You can book the ECA HS&E Test here.

Next steps

Now you know all about the ECS Card you probably want to get one! You can apply for a card on the ECS Card website.

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