New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3)

Your first step towards an animal-related profession such as kennel and cattery management, pet grooming, wildlife management or education. Learn about companion animals (cats, dogs, rabbits and birds), their health, welfare and husbandry, anatomy, physiology, and low stress handling techniques.

We know full-time study isn’t always possible so we offer this programme part-time over one year (Feb start only). And, if you’ve never done tertiary study before, you might be able to get your tuition fees for free through the Fees Free scheme (but you’ll still need to pay additional costs for things like equipment).

About the programme

Start here for a fulfilling career working with animals.

This programme will give you an entry-level animal care qualification. It will also give you a taste of the wider range of animal-related qualifications available and allow you to get a feel for tertiary study before attempting a higher-level qualification.

It’s also a great first step if you want to enter an animal-related profession such as SPCA work, pet shop work or kennel and cattery animal care. There are three different focus areas to choose from – Companion Animal, Equine or Rural. We will offer Companion Animal and may also offer Equine and Rural.

You’ll learn about companion animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, and birds); their health, welfare and husbandry (how to care for them); anatomy; physiology; and low stress handling techniques.

Once you’ve completed the first course, you’ll need to organise access to animal-related facilities such as boarding kennels or catteries so you can do your 40-hour work placement.

When you successfully finish this programme, you could study our one-year New Zealand Certificate in Animal Healthcare Assisting (Level 4)* or the two-year New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing* or New Zealand Diploma in Rural Animal Veterinary Technology* to widen your career opportunities.

Studying part-time 

We know full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer a one year part-time study option. This option only starts in February.

*These programmes are all subject to final approval. 

Courses

In 2023, our whānau will be getting bigger as all Polytechnics across New Zealand come together under one organisation – Te Pūkenga. Te Pūkenga is building a national network of integrated learning that better meets the needs of learners, their whānau, employers and the community. It will give learners more choices and flexibility in what, where and how they learn.

We’re excited to be part of Te Pūkenga’s large-scale review of animal healthcare and veterinary nursing programmes. This programme is reaching the final stages of this review and is fully-recognised by NZQA. 

It may mean that some of the below courses change slightly and we'll update this information as soon as we can.

Course name Level Credits
Introduction to Animal Care 3 10
Assist in maintaining the Animal Facility 3 15
Animal Husbandry 3 15
Applied animal behaviour, husbandry, handling and welfare 3 15
Assist with the maintenance of animal health 3 15

Studying online 

We're a leader in the provision of online animal health education. You'll learn via online facilitated teaching sessions and discussion forums, as well as having access to online course resources and activities (written, audio and video). 

Help is always on hand through our extensive support systems which include one-on-one tutor support and IT support. 

Health and Safety

You will be given full training to minimise all programme-specific risks. Examples of risks associated with this programme are lifting, animal bites and scratches, zoonotic diseases, computers, chemicals, sharp instruments, electricity, fire, and mercury thermometers. We recommend that your tetanus injection status is up-to-date to attend work-placements and handle any animals in this programme.

Further study options

When you successfully finish this programme, you could study our one-year New Zealand Certificate in Animal Healthcare Assisting (Level 4)* or the two-year New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing* or New Zealand Diploma in Rural Animal Veterinary Technology* to widen your career opportunities.

*In 2023, our whānau will be getting bigger as all Polytechnics across New Zealand come together under one organisation – Te Pūkenga. Te Pūkenga is building a national network of integrated learning that better meets the needs of learners, their whānau, employers and the community. We’re excited to be part of Te Pūkenga’s large-scale review of animal healthcare and veterinary nursing programmes. These programmes are reaching the final stages of this review, are fully-recognised by NZQA and are subject to final approval. 

Disclaimer

While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.