Information on CSCS cards

NOTE: CSCS card changes - removal of AQP and PQP cards for archaeologists

CIfA has been notified (January 2024) that CSCS are making changes to the criteria governing the requirement to hold a valid CSCS card and that the AQP and PQP cards will not be issued to archaeologists from May 2024. We are working with FAME to understand the implications of this change and we understand that the removal of archaeologists, alongside other non-construction occupations, from the CSCS scheme is being communicated to construction companies.

For further information, please see our statement and Frequently Asked Questions. This is an evolving resource, and information will be updated as further news develops.


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 following CSCS cards are 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. * Trailblazer apprenticeships in Archaeological Technician Level 3 are available. 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'. Qualifications are broadly defined at present and will be reviewed, therefore you will need to have 'Archaeology' in the degree title. Requires the Manager level health and safety test. Valid for five years.*

  • Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card - available to all professionally accredited members of CIfA on passing the Operative Health, Safety & Environment test. CIfA accreditation will need to be maintained in order for cards to be renewed. Card valid for five years.*

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQS for archaeologists

Which cards are available to CIfA professionally accredited (PCIfA, ACIfA, MCIfA) archaeologists?
CSCS has approved a Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card for archaeologists professionally accredited by CIfA at Practitioner, Associate and Member (PCIfA/ACIfA & MCIfA) level. To get the card, you will need to provide evidence of your CIfA accreditation and pass the CITB Operatives’ Health, safety & test. The card is valid for five years.

I’m not accredited by CIfA: which card should I apply for?
If you are planning to apply for accreditation with CIfA look at the information on the 'Join' page of of the website.
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.
Academically Qualified Person (AQP) cards are available to those with:
a degree or higher level qualification (HNC/HND) in archaeology, or joint degree where archaeology is the major component, from UK universities
a degree in archaeology, or joint degree where archaeology is the major component, from a non-UK university that has been verified by UK ENIC.
You will need to have passed the CITB Health, Safety & Environment test at Manager level.
The card is valid for five years.

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?
Applications for CIfA accreditation at MCIfA and ACIfA are considered by a Validation committee but PCIfA applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applicants are recommended to allow at least eight weeks for the application process. 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
Applicants can help us to make sure the process runs smoothly by ensuring the information 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.

How much will CIfA accreditation cost and will my employer help me?
You can find up to date information about the costs of CIfA accreditation at CIfA strongly encourages its Registered Organisations and members who employ staff to support their employees in gaining CIfA accreditation. Many of our ROs already contribute at least 50% of their employees’ subscriptions.

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-UK university?
Non-UK qualifications will be checked via CSCS’s arrangement with UK ENIC They will make a qualification verification check, comparing your qualification to UK equivalents, and a Primary Source Verification (PSV) check which traces your qualification back to the awarding body and agrees it was awarded to you.

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 to achieve professional accreditation by CIfA or the Institute of Conservation (ICON). If you are at the start of your career and are on a CIfA Approved employer training programme, you are eligible for a CSCS Trainee card.
You could also undertake an NVQ in Archaeological Practice at Level 3 and gain PCIfA accreditation (PQP card), undertake a L3 Archaeological Technician apprenticeship (CSCS Apprentice card) or a higher level qualification (HND, Foundation Degree, BA, BSc, MA, MSc) in archaeology (AQP card).

Who should I contact at CIfA and CSCS for further help and advice?
For general enquiries about CSCS cards, please contact CIfA at admin [at]
For CIfA membership related enquiries, please contact Lianne Birney at lianne.birney [at]
You can contact CSCS via their helpline on 0344 994 4777 or via their contact form on their website at

FAQS for employers

We have 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 that it will be difficult for our people to obtain CSCS cards and so work on projects that require them.
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. The CSCS requirements recognise the high levels of skill that archaeologists have.

We have 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 Approved Training standard and so deny our trainees cards.
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
You can find information about developing training within your organisation in our Training Toolkit and if you have any questions contact approvedcpd [at]