The ECS Card scheme is an essential component of the Electrotechnical industry. Through this initiative, individuals can be identified as competent and qualified professionals in a range of disciplines. An ECS card will also demonstrate an appropriate level of health and safety knowledge has been acquired. This is because all cards demand that their recipients pass an appropriate assessment. Without an ECS Card, construction sites and other defined work spaces may deny entry.

Key Information

As these cards offer an indication of one’s proficiency in a chosen field, they play a critical role in the client-contractor relationship. A client might only pursue work contracts with card holders, as the scheme provides a sense of quality and assurance.

Although there’s no formal ranking to card types, some are more difficult to acquire. This article reviews, in detail, the main ECS card options and their respective eligibility criteria. An overview will be provided on what skills, knowledge, and experience are needed to to successfully apply for each card. Cards are often linked to specific occupations within the field. In some examples, this is represented clearly through the full name of the relevant card programme.

The following information also covers elements such as the card renewal process, how to replace a lost, damaged or stolen card, how to book the compulsory ECS Health, Safety & Environment Test (candidates need to pass this as part of the application for any ECS card), and some key, general guidance points, such as expiry dates and the purchase of fraudulent cards.

Please digest the content of this article, and use it to ensure you apply for the appropriate ECS Card programme. As always, ensure you’re in a position to make a commitment to the training, time and hard work required. Some of these cards take substantial effort to acquire, and will require a considerable period of learning and on-the-job experience to be completed.

ECS Card Categories

The ECS card scheme can be loosely divided into two categories. These can be identified as 1) fully qualified, skilled workers, and 2) untrained, unskilled individuals. Having an awareness of the card types, and the qualifications required to obtain each, will allow you to gain an important insight into the experience and skill-set level of piers and fellow workers. This could be essential knowledge when on a construction site.

Whilst engaging with the application process, candidates will be asked to submit evidence that demonstrates they’ve achieved the required standard to acquire the card. Individuals should also expect regular testing and assessment in the pursuit of continued card ownership. However, the only test specifically linked to the ECS Card scheme itself is the aforementioned ECS Health, Safety & Environment test.

The surface of the card itself details some key information. This will include the name, job title, and card type of the bearer. On the reverse, any qualifications received will be shown. Due to the design of the cards (large font and bright colours), it will be instantly recognisable which card a colleague holds on viewing. This allows a swift understanding of their attributes, and supports the efficient operation of electro-technical sites and workspaces.

Untrained, Unskilled Cards

ECS Apprentice Card

Unsurprisingly, you should apply for this card if you’re conducting an electrical apprenticeship in the trade. In terms of physical appearance, this card, like all untrained types, is white. In this case, a red, horizontal stripe will feature along the bottom of the card’s base.

As a supportive side note, if you’re currently undertaking an apprenticeship, it’s worth asking your employer if you’ve been registered for a JIB membership. JIB, or, to provide its full name, the Joint Industry Board, are the body accountable for delivering testing standards and grading across the industry. Membership to this organisation provides wide-ranging benefits, and all industry workers should be encouraged to join. Confirmation of your JIB registration will be printed on the front of your ECS Card. Check out this page on JIB’s website for more information- www.jib.org/provider.

Eligibility

Given the duration of apprenticeship programmes, ECS have decided to implement a four-stage system linked to this card type. As each part of your training is achieved, you will receive a totally new, upgraded card. On completing stage four of your training, and therefore the electrical apprenticeship as a whole, you can apply for an ECS Gold Card. This represents your status as a fully qualified electrical professional (more on this later).

As referenced, to apply for this card, you need to be affiliated to an advanced electrotechnical apprenticeship scheme. In order to process your application, ECS will need proof of this, and therefore a copy of your training agreement will be requested. Also, the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Test must have been successfully passed within the last two years. This card will ensure access to construction sites, but, given current capability and experience level, somebody should be in place to supervise your activity.

ECS Pre-apprentice Card

This card is designed to offer prospective apprentices an opportunity to acclimatise themselves within the industry and their employment. Therefore, it offers individuals, and their employers, some time to understand whether a position in the Electrotechnical trade is right for the apprentice in question. This breathing space is beneficial for both parties. It allows employers to understand the candidate’s work ethic, competency level, and commitment level to business values. For the potential apprentice, it offers some time to reflect on what they like and dislike about working in the industry. Ultimately therefore, this gives them an opportunity to make a more informed career choice, and boost the likelihood of future job satisfaction.

If the company is registered with JIB, then an apprenticeship agreement can be initiated immediately. This will occur when the employer and employee are comfortable with a proposed set the employment terms.

In order to apply for a pre-apprenticeship card, the employer must formally write to JIB to confirm that they have a proper probationary procedure in place. This will confirm their intention as a ‘pre-apprentice’ employer.

The employer must already have provided a full induction, and ensure the individual has sat the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment. This card is given a 12-month expiry period. This is deemed a more than adequate enough time for both employee and employer to make a sound judgement on a future plan for continued employment (or to decide to part ways).

ECS Trainee Electrician Card

Although this card has some close similarities to the apprentice card, it has one key difference. This is that those applying for this card type, are not embarking upon an apprenticeship scheme. Learning, experience and certification for these individuals will be conducted through a formal JIB-registered training programme. Like the apprenticeship route, those who successfully navigate this training will be able to apply for an ECS Gold Card on completion. This programme is therefore equal to apprenticeship schemes within the industry.

The ECS Trainee Card journey has a three-stage process, increasing in difficulty as you move through the stages.

Stage 1

The entry stage. This will just require proof that your employer is endorsing you to work in the electrotechnical field. This proof will also allow your enrolment onto an official JIB training scheme. As per industry-standard, you’ll need to have passed your ECS Health, Safety and Environment Assessment within the last two years to begin your training.

Stage 2

Again, you’ll require proof of your employer’s continued endorsement. You’ll also need to provide  certification to demonstrate that you’ve completed Stage 1 of your training programme. There are a range of associated courses which you will have need to have passed as part of the Stage 1 training programme. These are the following:

  • City & Guilds 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology at Level 2 or,
  • City & Guilds 236 Part 1 or,
  • City & Guilds 2360 Part 1 or,
  • City & Guilds 2351 Units 1,2,3 & 4 or,
  • City & Guilds 2365-02 Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation (Buildings and Structures) (600.5498/0) or,
  • EAL Diploma in Electrotechnical Services Units 1,2,3,4,5 & 6 or,
  • EAL Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation (QCF) (600/6724/X) or,
  • EAL Level 2 Intermediate Diploma in Electrical Installation (601/4561/4)
Stage 3

Here, you’ll yet again need proof of your employer’s continued endorsement. At this stage, you’ll also be expected to demonstrate that you’re presently undertaking work on a relevant (i.e., industry related) Level 3 NVQ course (or AM2 Assessment if already nearing the end of your initial training). You’ll also need certification to prove completion of your second stage training. In parallel to Stage 2, this will require presenting evidence that an associated course has been successfully passed. The following courses are listed as valid towards acquiring your Stage 3 Trainee Card:

  • City & Guilds 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology at both Level 2 and Level 3 or,
  • City & Guilds 236 Parts 1 and 2 or,
  • City & Guilds 2360 Parts 1 and 2 or,
  • City & Guilds 2351 (All eight units) or,
  • City & Guilds 2365-03 Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation (Buildings and Structures) (600/5499/2) or,
  • City & Guilds 8202-30 Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Electrical Installation (Tecbac) (601/7307/5) or,
  • EAL Diploma in Electrotechnical Services Level 3 (All ten units) (500/3526/5) or,
  • EAL Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation (QCF) (600/9331/6) or,
  • EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation (601/4563/8)

Although this card permits access onto site, its grading means there is a requirement for you to be supervised whilst working. It’s also advisable for those on this training track to seek JIB registration through your employer.

The ECS Trainee Card has an expiry date of two years. Candidates will be expected to develop their skills, while starting to acquire the relevant qualifications for more senior graded cards during this timeframe.

ECS Industry Placement Card

This card is relevant for those who are currently attending electrotechnical training and qualification courses, but are not yet a registered employee at a related industry firm. This type of card therefore grants site access for work experience opportunities. Without it, it would be impossible for students to gain real-world practical experience to complement their study programme.

To acquire this card, candidates must have completed a relevant pre-work training period. They also will needed to have successfully navigated the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment within the previous two years.

With this card, individuals can seek unpaid industry placement roles within the sector. This allows them to gain the relevant rudimentary skills and knowledge to then apply for an industry-related apprenticeship scheme. This will be a likely outcome of the next stage of their training journey.

An individuals ECS Industry Placement Card will expire after twelve months, and will not be eligible for renewal. This is due to the expectation that, within this timeframe, the worker in question will have gained the appropriate skills and qualifications to apply for a higher ECS card grading.

ECS Labourer’s Card

A labourer’s card is given to those individuals who provide unskilled assistance to electrical professionals. When working on associated electrical tasks, such as cabling installation, a labourer should be under constant supervision. They cannot perform any electrical craft work without the presence of an industry professional.

The labourer is defined as a specific occupation within the JIB structure of Electrotechnical job roles. In some instances, the ECS will look to issue a labourer’s card to candidates who have been unsuccessful in acquiring cards which include a more demanding qualifying criteria. However, receiving this card is still a positive step for those with ambitions of becoming a fully-fledged electrician. It permits site access, and therefore allows the holder to gain on-the-job experience. This will most likely be happening while continuing studies and earning industry certification. Many labourers will eventually become owners of the ECS Gold Card (more on this below), which, as we know, is the final objective of many entering the electrotechnical industry.

There are two possible routes available for those hoping to attain an ECS Labourers Card:

Option 1

If the candidate has already passed a JIB-approved electrical theory course, they will automatically progress to the next stage of the application process. These courses should be endorsed by either the City & Guilds or EAL endorsed qualification. These two bodies are industry-recognised organisations. The EAL is entrusted to provide specialist skills and is recognised as a legitimate awarding body within a range of industry pursuits. The City & Guilds, one of the most reputable names across the industrial services sector, similarly offers learning & development programmes to a wide selection of sectors and disciplines.

In this instance, dependent on the programme undertaken, candidates will qualify with either a Level 2 or Level 3 grade diploma. Although JIB permits any of these courses as partial evidence for acquiring a labourer’s card, it is unlikely that those who have passed an eligible Level 3 qualification will apply for this card type. This is because these individuals will be most likely already demonstrating the competency standard required to becoming a signed-off electrical installer. Therefore, they will most likely be on an apprenticeship or other defined learning pathway, and be some way to acquiring their ECS Gold Card.

Nevertheless, the full list of accepted Level 2 and Level 3 courses are as follows:

JIB-recognised Level 2 courses

  • City & Guilds 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology at Level 2
  • City & Guilds 236 Parts 1
  • City & Guilds 2360 Parts 1
  • City & Guilds 2351 (Units 1, 2, 3 & 4)
  • City and Guilds 2365-02 Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation (Buildings and Structures) 600/5498/0
  • City and Guilds 8202-20 Level 2 Technical Certificate in Electrical Installation (Tecbac) (603/0228/8) -Unit Accreditation of C&G 2356 – Electrotechnical Services
  • Unit Accreditation of C&G 2357 Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment
  • EAL Diploma in Electrotechnical Services (Units 1,2,3,4,5 & 6)
  • EAL Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation (QCF) (600/6724/X)
  • EAL Level 2 Intermediate Diploma in Electrical Installation (601/4561/4)
  • Unit Accreditation of EAL NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment

JIB recognised Level 3 courses

  • City & Guilds 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology at Level 2 and Level 3
  • City & Guilds 236 Parts 2
  • City & Guilds 2360 Parts 2
  • City & Guilds 2351 (All eight units)
  • City and Guilds 2365-03 Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation (Buildings and Structures) 600/5499/2
  • City and Guilds 8202-30 Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Electrical Installation (Tecbac) (601/7307/5)
  • EAL Diploma in Electrotechnical Services Level 3 (All ten units) (500/3526/5)
  • EAL Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation (QCF) (600/9331/6)
  • EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation (601/4563/8)

The Level 3 Award in the Requirements for Electrical Installations bs7671, despite its grading and position as an essential qualification, is not deemed to be part of the eligibility criteria for the ECS Labourer’s card.

Candidates undertaking this route will also need to have passed an ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment within the last two years.

Option 2

If no JIB-approved qualification is held, then individuals can support their application by passing one of the following courses.

  • CITB Health and Safety Awareness: Site Safety Plus
  • CCNSG Safety Passport- National or Renewal Course
  • Safety Passport Alliance (SPA) Core H&S Course
  • IOSH Working Safely
  • IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Site Workers

N.B. Delegates completing the IOSH Working Safely course must have passed in classroom-based, not remote, examination conditions. For the CITB Health and Safety Awareness course, either working environment is permitted.

If taking option 2, the ECS Health, Safety and Environment Test will only need to be undertaken if there has been a three-year gap between completing on one of the aforementioned courses and applying for a card.

Individuals will also need to provide evidence that they’re actively working within the electrotechnical industry. This can be either submitted directly from your employer (using the ECS ‘Employer Portal’), or be delivered by a company official providing a suitable reference letter. Guidance on the required style and format of this letter can be found on the ECS website.

ECS Gold Card

This card is perhaps the most well known and sought after in the industry. It identifies the holder as a fully-trained electrical professional. This means they will have successfully passed all required qualifications, and demonstrated competence in the field.

There are a significant number of variations to the gold card, which relate to roles both internal and external to the electrotechnical sector. Within the industry, the card provides a specific platform for those that work in specific electrical disciplines. This includes, for example, engineers involved in work connected to the automotive or telecommunications trades.

As mentioned earlier, some sectors crossover heavily with the electrical installation industry. This allows their respective workforces being eligible to apply for an ECS Card. In relation to the gold card, this relates to three specific areas of expertise. These are the following:

  • Occupations relating to datacomms technologies
  • Occupations relating to Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
  • Occupations relating to Emergency & Security Systems

Qualifying Criteria

Given that this card recognises the holder as a fully-fledged electrician, the qualifying criteria is quite challenging.

There are three defined routes that candidates can take in their pursuit to obtain a Gold Card:

Option 1

Successfully undertake an NVQ Level 3 which relates either directly to the electrotechnical sector, or lends itself to another relevant industry. There are no time stipulations on when this qualification was achieved. Therefore, candidates who passed their NVQ a while ago can still apply for this card. Accompanying evidence for this qualification is required.

Option 2

If an NVQ Level 3 has not been undertaken, then an equivalent training programme and subsequent certification with either Certsure or ECA will be accepted (Certsure and the ECA (Electrical Contractors Association) are similar organisations which offer training, support, and certification to industry professionals). This will give the candidate the required level of ‘supervisory’ status within the sector, which is equivalent to the seniority level earned at NVQ Level 3.

Option 3

There is also a third available, although it is quite drawn-out. This pathway is for individuals who have worked in the electrotechnical trade for an extended period of time, but haven’t been on one of the aforementioned qualification programmes. Within this route, there are two separate avenues, which result in the acquisition of two slightly different cards.

A. The Experienced Worker – MCA/EWA Card. Candidates pursuing this pathway will need to be enrolled towards completing either The Experienced Worker Assessment, or the JIB Mature Candidate Assessment. The former can be achieved via the City & Guilds 2346 Level 3 Experienced Worker NVQ (formerly called, ‘City & Guilds 2356 NVQ’). To qualify for this scheme, candidates need to have been working in a relevant occupation for at least five years. They also must not have undertaken an apprenticeship or equivalent NVQ Level 3 course. The major advantage for those that match this profile, is that previous skills, experience and qualifications are taken into account whilst conducting the course. Therefore, candidates will just need to fill any gaps in their knowledge. This card is white, with a gold horizontal line at its base.

B. The Experienced Worker – Standard ECS Card. This is given to those who have managed to pass a JIB recognised Level 3 electrical theory qualification. In essence, this card buys time. Applicants will be expected, within the next 18 months, to have entered onto the above course to demonstrate progression towards the final aim of attaining a gold card. This card is white, with a red horizontal line at its base.

However, as we’ve already seen with the standard card, both paths within Option 3 are seen as a temporary solution for gaining more accountability in the industry. Cards will only be valid for 18 months, and permanently expire at the end of this period. This is because the ECS expectation is that candidates will pursue the relevant formal training to acquire their gold card at some stage in the intervening period. As ever, both sets of applicants must have completed the ECS Health, Safety & Environment course within the last two years.

ECS Black Card

The black card is reserved for those who work in managerial posts throughout the sector. There are several roles that this applies to. This includes: Electrical Site Manager, Electrical Contract Manager, Project Manager, Site Manager, and Contract Manager. Like the gold card, there is a specific industry-related discipline who are eligible to apply. Datacomms ECS Black Cards will be granted to successful applicants working in the role of either Datacomms Engineer or Datacomms Manager (CTPM).

Candidates in pursuit of a black card are offered two, differing pathways:

Option 1

If currently working in one of the aforementioned roles, and already in possession of a gold card, then the ECS will offer automatic qualification to its black card.

Option 2

Completing a relevant Level 4 Management qualification. This would include either an undergraduate degree, JIB-recognised training course or BTEC. For reference, a BTEC is a programme supported by the Business and Technology Education Council (hence the acronym). This body provides specific work-related certification to a range of industries. In this instance, the BTEC higher national is what is needed. If this has been obtained, then the candidate will automatically pass the card’s criteria.

For both options, candidates will also need to successfully undertake a comprehensive Health & Safety module. This would need to correspond to any of the courses highlighted on the list below:

  • Construction Skills (CITB) Site Supervisor Training Scheme (SSSTS) or,
  • IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Site Managers or,
  • CITB Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) or,
  • CCNSG Safety Passport- Supervising/Leading a Team Safety Course or,
  • IOSH Safety for Directors or,
  • NEBOSH Diploma in Occupational Safety or,
  • UK Degree-level Health and Safety Qualification.

Importantly, passing one of these compulsory courses will exempt you from the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment. This component differentiates this card from all others.

ECS Card for a Site Support Occupation

These cards are requested by persons who work directly for an electrical contractor in an administrative role. Therefore, these individuals will need access to a construction site. However, they won’t carry out any work associated to the electrotechnical industry.

This may mean operating within one of the following roles:

Design Engineer, Quantity Surveyor, Commissioning Engineer, IR Specialist, H&S Specialist, Site Contract Administrator, CAD Engineer, or Compliance Auditor.

Individuals looking to acquire this card need to have obtained a relevant Level 1 Health & Safety qualification. The below list is not exhaustive; there are many relevant courses that could be undertaken. However, the most common ones used are the following:

  • CITB Health and Safety Awareness: Site Safety Plus
  • CCNSG Safety Passport- National Course or Renewal Course
  • IOSH Working Safely
  • IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Site Managers
  • Safety Passport Alliance (SPA) Core H&S Course

N.B. For candidates sitting the CITB Health and Safety Awareness: Site Safety Plus course, both classroom-based and remotely passed assessments are accepted.

For both IOSH safety courses, testing must have been exclusively conducted in a classroom-based environment.

ECS Cards for related disciplines

This follows the same principle as the Site Support Occupation card, in that related disciplines ECS cards are used for those in specific occupations that require access to a construction site, but have not been suitably trained to undertake electrical work. However, the types of professions that receive this card differ greatly from the aforementioned SSO format. The ECS related discipline cards involves individuals working in the following roles:

  • Field Engineer
  • Equipment Installer
  • Aerial and Satellite Engineer
  • Control Systems Engineer

Previously, there were several other available cards which were linked to various other professions. However, from January 2021, the ECS condensed the volume of available cards. This led them to tether existing card formats to the listed professions above. These, now legacy card grades, are AV Engineer and Security Systems Installer. If you currently occupy one of these roles, support and advice on how your position is now defined in context of the ECS Card scheme is available. This can be found on the relevant ECS site page, at www.ecscard.org.uk/card-types.

Candidates aligned to any of these black card schemes must pass the ECE Electrical Safety Unit Assessment to proceed their application. This test is a fairly routine examination of basic electrical safety knowledge. This is seen as an entry point assessment, so individuals will still need to pass the full ECS H&S and Environment test before being able to acquire their card. Lastly, applicants will need to provide some basic information about their role. This will include submitting a relevant training record attached to your chosen discipline, and an employer written job description relating to the work you undertake in-role, and your industry job title.

Academically Qualified Person ECS Card

This card would be suitable for individuals who hold a degree or equivalent further education certification in Engineering. They could alternatively hold the same qualification within a role directly in the Electrotechnical space. These qualifications could be an under or post-graduate degree, or a formal UK Further Education Qualification to either Level 4 or 5 (this could, for example, be a HND or HNC).

However, this qualification would have to be in a field not associated to any other ECS Card category.

Professionals operating in the following disciplines would be eligible to apply:

  • Electrical Engineer (Power)
  • Electrical Engineer (Control)
  • Electrical Engineer (Instrumentation)
  • Electrical Engineer (Communication)
  • Electrical Engineer (Systems)
  • Electrical Engineer (Electronics)
  • Electrical Engineer (Building Services)
  • Electrical Engineer (Environmental)
  • The last discipline, ‘environmental’, is a relatively recent addition.

As standard, these candidates would still need to pass the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment.

Professionally Qualified Person

This relates to only a select few in the industry. A relevant ECS card will be awarded to those who have attained membership to the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology). The IET work in collaboration with national and continental regulatory bodies to provide guidance, support and the exchange of ideas in the electrotechnical space. If currently undergoing training in the electrotechnical sector, you should be already familiar with this organisation. The well-known wiring regulations is compiled and published by this body.

In this instance, members of IET just need to provide proof of their affiliation. And, you guessed it, successfully pass the ECS Test.

CSCS Schemes – Don’t be confused!

The CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) is a body that ensures those attending construction sites are appropriately trained, with the relevant skill set, to deliver the task they’ve been entrusted to do.

This organisation also has many partnership card schemes. The CSCS card is independent to the ECS card, not a substitute. This is an important point!

The CSCS endorse the ECS Card and see it as an indicator of desirable competence within the electrotechnical field. There are also a number of alternative skills certifiers, in a variety of other industries, that it also supports. Individuals also need to sit a relevant health, safety and environment assessment, sometimes referred to as the CSCS test, in order to qualify for all of their partnership schemes.

Although cards are often referenced together, there is an obvious, important distinction between the ECS Card and other cards such as the CSCS card. In basic terms, they will all, given the industries they’re connected to, provide access to a construction site. However, an appropriate ECS card would be required to physically undertake any work related to the electrical craft. This fact could be easily missed or overlooked, given that some companies specifically ask for generally for holders of ‘CSCS cards’ when advertising jobs. Make sure you understand the difference, and know that if you’re looking to advance a career in the electrotechnical industry, the ECS Card is the right CSCS partnership option to pursue.

ECS Card Cost and Payment Instructions

So, you’ve gone through the formal application process (via the MyECS portal, more on this later), and have presented the relevant documentation, including proof of passing your ECS H&S and Environment Test. You’re next step therefore is to physically pay for the specific ECS Card you’ve applied for.

The ECS platform will calculate the fee dependent on the grading/type of card. There is a relatively detailed price structure in place, depending on several factors.

If you use the MyECS portal to manage payment, and therefore complete the full application process online, you will not be subject to any additional charges. However, if you apply using the paper form, you will unfortunately receive an extra £10 (+VAT) fee to cover administration costs. The vast majority of candidates use the online route.

Fees

Any ECS Card online application: £40 (+VAT) Total= £48

Any ESC Card paper application: £40 (+VAT), and +£10 admin fee (+VAT)) Total= £60

If your employer is affiliated to JIB as a member, you will be eligible for a discount. Check with your employer to see if your company has membership. If so, the costs are involved are:

ECS Card (including if recently completed a JIB registered apprenticeship): FREE

ECS Related Discipline Card, Black Manager’s Card, or ‘Site-Visitor’ Card (would include AQP and PQP individuals: £30 (+VAT) Total= £36

Premium Service

If your need for an ECS card is extremely urgent, then its worth knowing that JIB operates a premium application service. This facilitates the acquisition of a card within the same working day. Candidates using this option will often sit their ECS Test on the same day , and then make their fast-track card application immediately after the assessment.

However, individuals who decide to use this process unsurprisingly pay a higher fee. They will also need to make arrangements to attend JIB’s administration centre in Swanley, Kent. Therefore, travel costs should be factored in before opting to go down this route. Furthermore, its imperative that applicants call in advance to ensure they can be scheduled into an available slot. The office does not operate a ‘walk-in service’.

Fees

Any ECS Card: £180 (+VAT) Total= £216

Again, if your employer is part of the JIB Company Membership programme, you will be entitled to a discount:

ECS Related Discipline Card, Black Manager’s Card, or ‘Site-Visitor’ Card (would include AQP and PQP individuals: £125 (+VAT) Total= £150

N.B. Prices are available to sit the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment simultaneously to your in-day ECS Card application. These charges will be covered in the ‘ECS Test’ section below.

ECS Test

As you’ve seen mentioned on numerous occasions throughout this text, The ECS Test (or ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment) is a fundamental component of the ECS Card application process. The examination serves as an essential benchmark of health and safety aptitude and understanding. There are only two instances in which individuals will be able to gain site access without undertaking the full assessment.

The first one, as referenced, is if you’re part of the ECS Black Card holder scheme. In this instance, you will have sat a H&S assessment which demands a higher proficiency level, and therefore the ECS Test is not needed. Alternatively, if you’re a site visitor with minimal contact to works areas, you will be able to sit a slightly condensed version of the assessment. This would include occupations such as estimators, sales reps, and delivery staff. This reduced content test, that would need to be passed for these roles to gain access to site, is called the ‘Site Visitor Assessment.’

Tips and Info

This part of the application process consists of 50 multiple choice questions, and is sat in timed, exam conditions (duration of 30 minutes). Candidates must score at least 86% (43 out of 50) to pass. The test is exclusively computer-based.

In order to adequately prepare for your test, it’s encouraged that you engage in revision exercises at least ten working days prior to your scheduled assessment date. The ECS provides a handy learning tool to help candidates study, called the ‘question and answer’ book. You can download this here. This document contains all potential 300 questions that could be included on the assessment. It therefore offers comprehensive support in preparing for your exam.

Test Subjects

There are a total of eleven individual areas that the ECS Test will challenge students on. These are as follows (volume of questions per category is shown in brackets):

General Health & Safety (4 questions), Manual Handling Operations (4 questions), PPE (Personal Protective Equipment (4 questions), Health & Hygiene (3 questions), Fire and Emergency (9 questions), Working at Height (5 questions), Workplace Equipment (4 questions), Special Site Hazards (3 questions), Electrotechnical content (6 questions) and Environmental knowledge (3 questions).

Candidates should spend a proportionate amount of revision time, dependent on the level of questions within each subject module.

Booking your ECS Assessment

Booking this test can be done through three different affiliate organisations. These are JIB, ECA, and Unite the Union. As a point of reference, Unite the Union are primarily a trade union group, and therefore seek to advance the rights, profile, and skill sets of workers in a range of different industries.

Booking through JIB

As previously mentioned, JIB provides a one-day card turnaround service. This means that candidates can quickly gain their ECS credentials by sitting the test and applying for their card in one, consolidated effort. JIB also accommodates multiple bookings through its ‘in-company service’. So, if employers are looking to book numerous candidates onto an ECS Assessment, they can efficiently do so through this method.

Booking through the ECA

The ECA (Electronic Contractors Association) provide testing across various towns and cities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This organisation operates a membership service, which may be worth joining given their reputable position within the Electrotechnical industry.

If making an individual ECA booking, simply contact them directly via phone, and they’ll be able to schedule a test, and administer an over-the-phone payment via debit or credit card. For reference, payments will appear on your bank statement as, ‘Electrical Contractors Internet’. The ECA also facilitate payment by cheque. Cheques should be made payable to the ‘Electrical Contractors Association’

Employer Bookings

If you’re an employer looking to block book various direct reports onto an assessment, you will need to complete the booking form available on the ECS website. There is a reasonable amount information requested, so please ensure that you go through the document thoroughly before submitting. Once completed, send the form through to the ECA’s administration office in Bedfordshire, and await them to contact you for payment.

There is a second page to the form, which requests the personal information of the individuals you are sponsoring to take the assessment. If sending members of your group to varying locations, you will need to complete this form more than once (i.e., one form per venue used). Therefore, if you have three candidates due to sit their test in Newcastle, you would complete one booking form for those three individuals, and pay a cheque (if not a JIB-registered company) for £144 (3 x £48 per test, inclusive of VAT) for those attending. If a further four candidates from the same business were scheduled to take the assessment in Birmingham, then another booking form, and a separate cheque (to the tune of £192 for the additional delegate) would need to be submitted. The same method of booking is in operation for payment by cheque.

Please visit the ECA website if you require further information on this, as it is a relatively involved process.

There is a space on the form to highlight any additional, special requirements needed. The ECA will clearly facilitate those who are disabled, and can provide a reader for those who require some extra support. The latter service will require proof.

Venues

Given the number of testing venues that the ECA has its disposal, candidates should feel confident in being able to access at least one comfortably. There are a total of 26 available testing centres across most regions of England, and one location in each of Wales and Northern Ireland.

Venues are as follows (asterisk demonstrates assessments are less frequent at this location):

  • North East: Newcastle (Tyne & Wear), York (North Yorkshire)
  • North West: Liverpool (Merseyside), Manchester (Lancashire), Barrow-in-Furness* (Cumbria)
  • Central: Chesterfield (Derbyshire)
  • East Midlands: Leicester (Leicestershire)
  • West Midlands: Birmingham (Warwickshire)
  • East: Ipswich (Suffolk), Dunstable (Bedfordshire), Cambridge (Cambridgeshire)
  • Greater London: Blackfriars, Ilford, Croydon (London), Slough (Berkshire)
  • Central South: Oxford*(Oxfordshire), Bournemouth (Dorset), Porchester (Hampshire)
  • South East: Burgess Hill (West Sussex)
  • West & South West: Bristol, Plymouth*, Exeter*, Redruth*(Cornwall), Yeovil (Somerset)
  • Wales: Bridgend (South-east Wales)
  • Northern Ireland: Lisburn*(Country Antrim)

Please ensure that you have checked suitable travel arrangements before booking your assessment.

The ECA does have strict refund and cancellations procedures. Candidates will need to give a full, six-working days’ notice if they require their test to be re-scheduled or cancelled. If this agreement is not honoured, ECA will not refund the cost.

Booking through Unite the Union

Unite the Union have a similar booking service to that of the ECA. Contact details, including representatives who co-ordinate testing in their two geographical regions, are available on the Unite the Union website.

If you’re a Unite the Union member, the full cost of the assessment will be just £42, which is £6 cheaper than the standard industry rate.

Unite the Union have a slightly more relaxed policy than the ECA when it comes to refunds and cancellations. Individuals have up to 72 hours in before their booking to make a valid change or cancellation. However, only one re-scheduling occasion is permitted. The candidate will be charged an administration fee of £10 for every future change of date from this point.

Applicable to all test providers

Regardless of which assessment body you use, candidates should ensure they take special note of any coronavirus restrictions currently in place. For example, Unite the Union will reject entry to anyone who arrives to one of their testing locations without a face mask or appropriate covering. All of these providers will advertise any relevant protocols on their websites. So, please ensure you check this information out before arriving at your assessment venue.

On arrival to the testing centre, you will be expected to present some photo identification, such as a passport or driving license (an old or new ECS Card would also suffice), your national insurance number, and a personal e-mail address. Your results will be sent to this address on immediate conclusion of your assessment.

Through the testing software, candidates will have the capability to re-visit any questions they’ve missed or were originally unsure of. Therefore, there’s no need to initially linger too long on those questions that you find challenging. Plus, the 30 minutes will disappear quickly! On compleion, your test results will instantaneously appear on-screen. In the event this is a pass, candidates will be available to move onto the next stage of their application for an ECS Card, via the MyECS portal.

ECS Card Application

As mentioned above, your ECS card application is processed through the MyECS Portal. You’ll need to set-up your personal account on their internal platform.

Registering for a MyECS Account, and subsequently using the MyECS portal, is extremely straight-forward. Simply visit the ECS website, follow the links, and enter some key personal details. On your landing page, you will see current certifications held, and any new criteria attached to your current ECS Card grading. If you have successfully gained new qualifications which are not documented on your portal, such as a recorded pass for the latest wiring regulations exam, ensure you inform ECS by uploading proof of your certification.

You will need to submit proof of the qualifications you’ve received, particularly if you’re looking to apply for cards in defined occupations such as a black or a related discipline card. The ECS are happy to accept uploaded scans of certification, or good-quality digital images.

In the vast majority of cases, you will then need to take the ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment, and pass accordingly.

When all of this is completed, pending any further actions you need to take to meet your card’s eligibility criteria, ECS will process your submission, and dispatch your card within four weeks. Individuals can track the progress of their card application through their personal MyECS account.

Renewing Your ECS Card

For those who have already acquired an ECS Card, it’s essential that you maintain its validity by keeping an eye on its expiry date. When your card is three months from expiring, you should start the renewal process.

Firstly, review any criteria changes that may have occurred since the last time you acquired your card. These updates will be appropriately displayed when logging into the MyECS portal. Individuals should also check their last ECS Health, Safety & Environment test date, ensuring that this hasn’t also become invalid. All candidates must have passed this assessment within the last two years.

If you’ve lost, stolen or damaged your card, ECS operates a replacement service so that you can have your card re-issued. However, do not attempt to dodge the renewal process by trying to acquire a card through this service; the expiry date on the card will match the previous copy, so you’ll be no further ahead! In a situation where your card has been lost, stolen or damaged, in and around the time it is due for renewal, then please just follow the aforementioned renewal process, and discard the replacement service support.

Summary

We’re hopeful that this comprehensive guide has given you all the information you need to confidently set off on your ECS Card journey. The key element is to remember to study the required criteria, consider your personal circumstances, and project which career pathway you’d like to take. In doing this, you should be able to create a clear route to the ECS Card you need now, and potentially which type of card you desire in the future.

It’s highly likely that you’ll need to register an account with My ECS, and book a ECS Health, Safety & Environment Assessment. Therefore, its perhaps worth visiting these two elements before anything else. Remember, the ECS Test takes significant preparation, so make sure you leave enough time to set yourself up for success.

There are a number of different card options, so be patient when browsing through the information provided. The important thing is that you come to a clearly informed decision. If you require further support, then consult either the webpages contained in this article, your course convenor, or an electrical professional.

Lastly, best of luck in acquiring the card you’re applying for, and all the best for your next steps in the Electrotechnical industry!