How to apply for an ECS card from the JIB
With so many cards and schemes available for electricians, it can often get a bit confusing. If you are looking to get an ECS card or have been asked for one by an employer and aren’t sure what it is, then take a read through our simple guide that explains everything.
Find out if an ECS card is right for you, who the JIB are, what ECS cards are available, alternative routes for an ECS card and more!
Who are the JIB?
The Joint Industry Board, better known as the JIB, is an independent organisation that aims to improve the electrical contracting industry, by setting standards and regulations. They foster strong relationships between large companies and the contractors who work for them.
The JIB has helped create positive employment conditions for contractors, set standards for training and levels of competence, and helped ensure companies that they are hiring competent and skilled contractors.
What is an ECS card?
If you are in the electrical industry or looking to start a new career as an electrician, you may have heard about ECS cards. ECS is the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme; the cards are available to any electrotechnical worker who is qualified and meets the card type specification and requirements.
ECS cards are issued by the JIB as a way to recognise and verify the competency of electrotechnical operatives working in the UK. If you are looking to work on a construction site, you won’t be able to without a valid ECS card.
The card shows a photo ID of yourself, and proves your identity, on-site occupation and your qualified status. Once you have your ECS card, whatever the level, you will ultimately gain more experience on site and therefore be able to gradually move up levels to a different qualified status.
Costs for an ECS card do vary, but the standard price for non-members is £40 +VAT.
What is a CSCS card?
If an employer requests you have a CSCS card, that means the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, of which the ECS card is affiliated with and is the equivalent, relevant card for the electrical industry.
What ECS card do I need?
There are a variety of ECS card types available to electricians and it is not always easy to see where you fit in. The ECS Gold Card is considered to be one of the highest level cards, while the Labourer card is a great starting point for those new to the industry.
Once you have your ECS card, whatever the level, you will ultimately gain more experience on site and therefore be able to gradually move up levels to a different qualified status.
ECS Labourer Card
If you have done your electrical training with EC4U and are looking to get work on a construction site, then we suggest the ECS labourer card. This is the best entry level card and will allow you to work as an electricians mate, and help another electrician complete an installation. This is the white card with the brown stripe across the front.
ECS Trainee Card
Alternatively, if you have come from an apprenticeship route and are not currently doing an advanced apprenticeship, you would be eligible for an ECS Trainee Electrician card. This card is white with a red stripe across the front and there are three separate stages for this card. Your acceptance on the trainee card is all dependent on your experience and training; you will be asked to provide proof that you are on a formal industry training programme and be able to provide an employment sponsorship.
ECS Gold Card
If you have a wealth of electrical experience, qualifications (including an NVQ Level 3 Apprenticeship) and are competent to carry out unsupervised work, then you could be eligible for an ECS Gold Card. This card is identified by the gold background and JIB grade of ‘electrician’. It is vital that before applying for a Gold Card you check the eligibility and requirements carefully to make sure you meet the criteria, or you risk wasting money and your application being rejected.
Health and Safety Assessment for an ECS Card
All applicants for an ECS card are required to hold a valid Health & Safety qualification. If you don’t have one, you will be required to undertake an ECS H&S Assessment to show that you understand the requirements for electrotechnical operatives. The qualification is designed to help prevent accidents in the workplace and promote high levels of safety.
The assessments are held nationwide in assessment centre; it is a multiple choice, closed book assessment, which has 40 questions and costs £40 +VAT. To pass the H&S assessment you need to obtain at least 85%, which is 34 correct answers.
Do you need to apply for an ECS card?
If you want to work on construction sites or new builds, you will be required to have an ECS card. When applying for jobs, some companies also may ask you have an ECS card as proof of your qualified status, despite the job not being on a construction site. This is because the ECS card is a quick way to prove you are skilled, competent and safe to work, due to the assessment and checks your application will have undergone.
If you plan on working for yourself in the domestic market and not on-site or for an employer, then you won’t need an ECS card. Joining up to a Part P Scheme Provider is more important for your business, as you will become a registered electrician and be able to sign off all of your own work under that scheme provider. Registered electricians are extremely desirable and are in high demand by other trades and customers.
You don’t need an ECS card to become an electrician. It is only applicable to those wanting to work on a construction site, or if your employer requires you have one.
Alternative route to get an ECS/JIB Gold Card
If you strive for both a Gold Card and to sign off all of your own work, then we have an alternative route for you. The JIB have joined up with NICEIC & ELECSA (Certsure) to offer Qualified Supervisors the chance to apply for an ECS gold card and get recognised as an Installation Electrician, under rules set by the ECS.
There are two routes to getting your Gold Card under the NICEIC; on your 3rd assessment or through recognised qualifications. Either routes under NICEIC and ELECSA will require you to have a current and valid Health and Safety Certificate and a BS7671 qualification for the current edition of the wiring regulations.
If you have represented the same Approved Contractor business, your own or an employer, for three successful consecutive assessments with the NICEIC or ELECSA, you will be eligible to apply through this route. For domestic electricians, this is the best route available as you will eventually reach a gold card status, while also being able to sign off and certify your own work.
However, if you are new to the industry, you will first have to complete two successful years as a Qualified Supervisor on a Domestic Installer Scheme, in order to gain some valuable electrical installation and trading experience before applying to become an Approved Contractor Business. Afterwards, you will then be able to upgrade to an Approved Contractor Scheme and after three consecutive successful assessments be able to apply for your Gold Card.
It’s important to note that you will not be able to apply to the Approved Contractor Scheme if you cannot prove that you have two years valuable electrical trading experience.
You can expect to receive your Gold Card within 4 weeks of applying. You can find out more about this route here.
The qualification route has been put in place to reflect the qualifications and training programmes available at the time. It’s important that you carefully check through the qualifications options to ensure that you fit one of them. If you do not fit into any of the qualification criteria’s, then consider the assessment route above.
The full list of qualification options and requirements can be found here.