The SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme) is a comprehensive health and safety course which holds great weight throughout the construction industry.

In fact, if you’re applying for a managerial role within the construction sector, you’ll notice it’s a requirement on most job applications. With health and safety a top priority for the construction industry, the CITB SMSTS course serves as an industry-wide standard for health and safety competence at a managerial level.

The superb training programme is designed specifically for those with managerial responsibilities on UK construction sites and backed by everyone from Build UK to the United Kingdom Construction Group (UKCG).

From course programme details to resulting qualifications, cards and certificates, here’s all you need to know about the SMSTS and why it’s regarded as such a necessity for managers across the sector.

Who is the SMSTS for?

The SMSTS is a course for managers working on construction sites. If you are a site manager, project manager, site supervisor, business owner or a client or a to become one, this course is for you.

As a site manager, it is your duty to ensure all staff and visitors on site are safe and protected. The SMSTS will help you to make sure you can do that in a robust and effective manner that meets all your many compliance and organisational responsibilities for health and safety.

What is the SMSTS?

The SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme) is a 5-day health and safety course for managers across the industry. The purpose of the course is to make sure all managers across the industry are adequately trained to effectively carry out all their health, safety, welfare and environmental duties on construction sites.

This is an all-inclusive course covering building, construction and civil engineering so whichever part of the industry you’re from, if you’re managing people and projects on a construction site, the SMSTS is for you.

Designed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the SMSTS course programme is wide-ranging, ensuring every aspect of your health and safety responsibilities and duties are taught and discussed over the 5 days.

During the SMSTS course you’ll learn about:

  • Electricity
  • Excavations
  • Working at Height
  • Scaffolding
  • Demolition
  • Confined Spaces
  • Risk Assessments / Method Statements
  • Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations
  • Recent Changes in Accepted Working Practices
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act
  • Behavioural Safety
  • Management of Occupational Health


At the end of the course, you’ll need to take a mandatory 30 minute written exam to complete the SMSTS and gain certification. There are 25 questions in the examination and you’ll need to meet or exceed the 80% pass mark to pass.

The results from your SMSTS test are added to a review by your tutor of your participation during the course plus a case study task to form your final mark. You will also need to attend all 5 sessions of the training to qualify for a pass. You can choose to book all 5 sessions for the same week or one session a week for 5 weeks.

SMSTS Certificate

When you pass the SMSTS you’ll receive an SMSTS certificate within 4 weeks of taking the exam. The certificate is officially known as a Site Safety Plus Certificate and you’ll be able to use this certificate to evidence your health and safety competency as a leader when applying for future positions.

SMSTS Refresher

Your SMSTS certificate will last for 5 years. If you want to continue using your certificate past the expiration date you’ll need to take a one-day SMSTS Refresher Course to make sure you are up to date with all the latest developments and statutory requirements for industry health and safety.

Is the SMSTS a legal requirement?

The SMSTS is not a legal requirement but leading compliance on-site as a manager is. By attending and passing the SMSTS course you ensure you have all the knowledge and understanding you need to carry out your legal responsibilities on site.

It is your legal duty to ensure safe practice for yourself, staff and visitors and your employer’s responsibility to be sure you can fulfil that role. Completing the SMSTS provides you with the accreditation you need to show employers and industry authority bodies you are qualified to manage and implement compliance on a construction site.

The training is recognised throughout the industry for its thorough coverage of all health and safety responsibilities and practice for managers. Spanning building, construction and civil engineering whilst covering everything from legal duties to monitoring and planning, the SMSTS ensures you are fully equipped to carry out your legal responsibilities to your employers and staff – invaluable knowledge you don’t want to skip.

Do I get an SMSTS card or CSCS card with SMSTS?

No. There is no such thing as an SMSTS card. In fact, no cards can be earnt through the SMSTS course. When you complete the SMSTS course you’ll gain the certification already discussed via the SMSTS certificate. You’ll be awarded the certificate at the of course and that’s all you need to show you’ve completed training.

Though you won’t get a card by attending the SMSTS course, the training will certainly help you pass the CSCS Managers test. You’ll need to take the CSCS Managers test to get a black or white CSCS card for managers.

Obtaining the CSCS card itself can only come through meeting the CSCS’ requirements for specific qualifications for each card. See the section below on popular qualification routes for managers to find out some of the top qualification criteria for a black or white CSCS card. Alternatively, read our guide to white and black CSCS cards to learn more about what they are and how to get one.

Is SMSTS a worthwhile qualification?

Health and safety compliance is a major priority for the industry and therefore an important area of competence for you as a manager.

When applying for roles within the industry, you’ll need the SMSTS certificate to evidence you have the necessary level of competence required to keep yourself and staff safe on-site and adhere to the many strict requirements and protocols you’ll need to lead on as a manager, many of which are cemented in national legislation.

Health and safety is a serious matter for the industry and you wouldn’t want to take up a position where compliance will be a major part of your role without having a solid understanding of what you should be doing.

By taking the SMSTS, you and your employer can be absolutely sure you have all the information, understanding and knowledge you need to lead and promote best practices on-site to keep the entire community safe.

You won’t only finish the course with a formal qualification, you’ll end the course with a highly-respected certificate that’s recognised throughout the construction and required by most employers for managerial roles.

Remember, you need to evidence you have the high standard of knowledge industry managers need. Any future employers must be sure you have that deep degree of knowledge too.

Which is better: the SSSTS or SMSTS?

The SSSTS and SMSTS are related but they are not the same or comparable courses. The SSSTS (Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme) is a foundation course for site supervisors only. The SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme) builds on and extends the coverage of the SSSTS further for those working in managerial positions.

Site supervisors can attend the SMSTS but the SSSTS is specifically for site supervisors.

The SMSTS does not cover the same topics as the SSSTS. It covers specialist subjects, requires deeper knowledge and wider understanding of health and safety application, compliance and monitoring.

Each course is relevant to the differing responsibilities of a site supervisor and a site manager. A site manager must lead a project and therefore health and safety compliance on site – the buck stops with them. A site supervisor works under the direction of the site manager, overseeing health and safety instructions received from the manager.

Therefore, if you’re a site manager, you need to take the SMSTS. On the other hand, if you’re a site supervisor you could take either the SSSTS or the SMSTS or decide to take the SSSTS first then the SMSTS.

Is it hard to pass the SMSTS?

The SMSTS is a comprehensive course held in high esteem by the construction industry so you will face an exam at the end of the course. No exam is easy otherwise there would be no point to it. However, you can use these 7 top tips to help you ensure you pass the SMSTS first time:

7 top tips to pass the SMSTS first time

To ensure you pass the SMSTS course:

  1. Gain a clear understanding of the SMSTS test, questions, pass rate and more by reading our guide to the SMSTS test long before you attend the SMSTS course so you can prepare.
  2. Revise for the SMSTS test in advance by using our free mock SMSTS test. You’ll get your pass mark each time and have plenty of opportunities to learn the correct answers to any questions you get wrong.
  3. Stay alert and focused during each day of the SMSTS course. You’ll only be tested on what you’ve learnt over your 5 days of training.
  4. Before booking the SMSTS course think about whether you’ll learn best by attending the course for 5 consecutive days or one day a week for 5 weeks. If you think you may find studying challenging, attending one day a week might give you time to read up on areas you’re unsure about from that week’s training.
  5. Don’t shy away from asking for clarification about topics you don’t understand during the 5 training sessions. Be diligent about engaging in self-study throughout the course if you know you need it.
  6. Attend every day of training and engage actively with all parts of the course because your tutor will provide a review of your performance at the end of the training. Your tutor’s review and your attendance will form part of your pass mark. If you don’t complete the required 5 days, you’ll automatically fail the course so be sure to attend every day, for the full duration of each session.

What qualifications do you need to become a site manager?

There is a range of routes to gaining a managerial position on a construction site. It’s a role that requires both substantial practical experience and national qualifications gained through further or/ and higher education.

Popular routes to managerial positions in the construction industry include:

Vocational qualifications

  • NVQ or SVQ Level 4,5,6 or 7 in Construction Management.
  • NVQ Level 6 in Construction Site Management.
  • NVQ Level 7 in Construction Senior Management.
  • NVQ or SVQ Level 4,5,6 or 7 in a technical construction-related subject.
  • NVQ Level 6 in Construction Contracting Operations.

Formal qualifications

  • a degree in a construction-related subject.
  • an HND in a construction-related subject.
  • an HNC in a construction-related subject.
  • a CIOB certificate.
  • a NEBOSH diploma.

This list is not conclusive and there are always many pathways to leadership. In terms of CSCS black and white cards for managers, these qualifications do match directly with those required by the CSCS for either black (vocational qualifications) or white cards (formal qualifications).

Whatever your current qualifications, enthusiasm, practical knowledge and commitment to the role are important starting points for any would-be manager. Talk to your line manager or the CITB about the best routes to take on your journey to management.

You can call the CITB for further information and support with training on weekdays on 0344 994 4400. For details about financial support with training, head to the CITB website or give them a call.

Take a free practice SMSTS test today and make sure you pass first time. With an 80% pass rate required, it’s worth ensuring you don’t have to repeat the experience twice.