New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) (Companion Animals)

This programme is your first step towards an animal-related profession such as kennel and cattery management, pet grooming, wildlife management or education.

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 – we will the offer Companion Animal focus in 2024. We hope to offer Rural and Equine strands from 2025.

In the Companion Animal focus, you'll learn about the health, welfare, husbandry, anatomy, physiology, and low-stress handling techniques for animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits and birds.

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.

You will also need to attend regular online sessions during this programme (although compulsory, these are flexible, and you will be offered some options).

Studying part-time 

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




Introduction To Professional Skills When Working With Companion Animals


Introduction To Behaviour, Handling, And Transportation For Companion
Introduction To Form, Function And Preventative Health For Companion
Introduction To Husbandry For Companion Animals 15
Companion Animals Practicum 15


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.

We are part of Te Pūkenga

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people, and you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.


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.