What is CPCS?

The Construction Plant Competency Scheme (CPCS) is the largest and most highly recognised card scheme for the plant industry. More than 280,000 individuals carry the card and it is required to be able to operate on most major contractors sites in the UK

The Process

The usual process for operators to enter the scheme is by first gaining a (Red)Trained Operator Card, then progressing to the (Blue) Competent Operator Card. Once the operator has the (Blue) Competent Card, they can renew it every 5 years.

Step 2 - Training 

The CPCS​ Technical Test is in place to make sure that you are at the required standard to begin working on site. It has theory and practical parts that you must pass. The Technical Test normally has to be completed at a CPCS Test Centre but certain machines can be tested on site.

To see what questions and practical activities you will need to complete for your chosen machine, check for the latest Theory Test Questions and Standard Practical Tests on the CPCS Support materials page.

Theory Test

The theory test covers health and safety, maintenance and operation knowledge about the machine. The test is carried out orally between you and the tester, and is recorded with a microphone (there is no writing involved).

The best way to fully prepare for the test is by revising with study notes which may be provided by the Test Centre.

Remember, you need to pass the theory test before you can move on to the practical!

Practical Test

You can attempt the practical test on the same day, or any time up to 6 months of passing the theory test.


It involves maintenance checks and normal site operations for your chosen machine. There a things that you must do and also things that you can be faulted on.

When you have completed both the theory and practical tests you can get the CPCS (Red) Trained Operator Card!

Step 3 - CPCS Technical Test


Step 4 - CPCS (Red) Trained Operator Card

Step 5 - Level 2 Plant Operator NVQ

Step 6 - CPCS (Blue) Competent Operator Card

Step 7 - Renew Your Card

This description of the CPCS Scheme process is a brief outline of what you need to do. Further details of the CPCS Scheme can be found on the CPCS website, or within the CPCS Scheme Booklet for Operators.

Step 1 - CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test