29 Aug 2020

What is the difference between NPORS & CPCS – Which is better?

Accredited training certification is critical for success in the plant operator job market. UKCG mandates certification of plant operators, and companies outside UKCG are increasingly demanding it. CPCS has been the market leader for a long time. But in 2014, NPORS earned recognition from UKCG. They are now a valid competitor of CPCS.


So, if you’re aspiring to get certified as a plant operator, which one should you pick? There are pros and cons to both options. Let’s get to know CPCS & NPORS first. After that, we’ll examine which one is better for you.

What is CPCS?

Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) is a standard card scheme designed to prove the competency and skill level of plant operators. It was launched in 2003 under the management of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). CPCS is now governed by NOCN, a global scale awarding body.


CPCS enables companies to comply with regulations and industry standards. The CPCS scheme ensures the safety and competency of plant workers by rigorously testing their professional competence, health safety and environmental awareness. There are three types of CPCS cards Red, Blue, and Tester card.



  • The Blue card is valid for 5 years. The requirements are the same as the Red Card but you need evidence of qualification to apply.


  • The Tester Card is the last and most advanced CPCS card. Once achieved, this card grants you the authority to test others for the CPCS cards. This card is issued first as the Provisional Card (valid for 2 years). Upon qualifying, the Full card is issued which is valid for 5 years.


Virtually every UK construction company recognizes the CPCS card. As far as card schemes go, CPCS is currently the universally accepted way of proving your competency to companies.

What is NPORS?

Founded in 1992, the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS), is a rapidly growing alternative card scheme to CPCS. In, 2014 NPORS earned official UKCG recognition becoming equivalent to CPCS.


NPORS also offers three types of cards, Traditional, Red, and Blue card.



Which one is the best?

Before the 2014 recognition of NPORS by UKCG, CPCS was the clear winner. But NPORS earned that recognition by reforming its testing scheme. The best option for you comes down to your preferences.


CPCS has been around since the beginning of card schemes. Although NPORS has made some great strides in the industry, CPCS is still the most widely accepted card scheme. When compared, it is more expensive, there is no option for onsite training & certification may take longer. But the CPCS training is in-depth and their certified centers provide a professional training environment. Moreover, some large companies may only accept CPCS as a form of accredited training.


The major benefits of NPORS are that courses are usually cheaper, shorter and they can be taken onsite with your own machines. Quicker and cheaper, however, does not result in inferior quality. NPORS maintains strict industry standards and ensures CPCS level quality. Thanks to UKCG recognition, even larger companies now accept it as an alternative to CPCS. Rare cases aside, you will not have any trouble landing a job using an NPORS Card.

The verdict

If you have particular companies in mind or already have a job lined up, consider asking the company which one they prefer. NPORS is the way to go if you’re on a budget or prefer onsite training. On the other hand, if you want an accreditation that gives you absolute assurance of acceptance and you can afford it, go with CPCS.