New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Rural Animal Technician)

Gain the skills to become a Rural Veterinary Technician, working with larger farm animals such as cows, sheep, horses and pigs. You’ll learn how to manage client education and understand veterinary practice management. You will have access to first-rate facilities and a range of rural veterinary equipment including a well-resourced training laboratory and simulation models.


There are some exciting changes coming to our Animal Healthcare and Veterinary Nursing programmes in 2023. Updated programme information will be added as soon as possible. To chat about the best options for you or for further information, please email 

About the programme

Enjoy working on the farm and in a rural veterinary practice environment?

This programme gives you the skills to be a veterinary technician working with large animals. You’d mainly work with dairy cattle but also with sheep, horses, deer and lifestyle animals. 

You’ll gain the technical skills you need to independently carry out a number of tasks in the rural veterinary practice and become skilled at handling a range of rural animal species. 

You will learn how to:

  • take care of animal patients with conditions such as lameness and mastitis,
  • take and process diagnostics samples,
  • manage disease and parasite prevention strategies, and
  • assist with reproduction medicine including metri-checking, disbudding and rearing. 

In addition, you’ll develop your communication skills, understand the importance of professionalism and team fit, be able to manage client education and understand rural veterinary practice management.

You'll study online with a four-day block course in Dunedin or Wairarapa and 240 hours of work experience.

Benefit from first-rate block course facilities and a range of rural veterinary equipment, including a well-resourced training laboratory, simulation models and farm visits where animal handling takes place.

Studying part-time 

We know full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer this programme part-time over two years. 


As a rural animal technician, your skills will be in high demand throughout New Zealand in rural and mixed animal practices to work alongside veterinarians in our primary agricultural produce industry ensuring optimal animal health and welfare of our production animal species. There are also opportunities to work alongside lifestyle block owners to help them maintain optimal stock health and welfare. 

This programme will be divided into eight, 15-credit courses. The first course will be a pre-requisite for the remaining courses (any other prerequisites to be advised).

Your work placements

During your study you will complete 240 hours of work placement – 40 hours on a farm and 200 hours in a Rural Animal Veterinary Clinic. You will need to arrange your own work placements. 

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, radiation from x-rays, anaesthetic gases, chemicals and drugs, UV radiation, sharp instruments, electricity, fire, gas cylinders and mercury thermometers.

You will be required to advise us of your tetanus injection status if you have not been previously enrolled with us, to ensure you are safe to handle any animals in this programme. 

Further study options

Pursue further study and increase your career options with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology Veterinary Nursing Assistant and/or the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. Adding companion animal training in the form for veterinary nursing assistant or veterinary nursing offers opportunities to be versatile in mixed animal practice, working with a wider range of species. This qualification also provides the perfect stepping stone into more advanced training in rural animal procedures such as artificial insemination and TB testing. 

A change for 2023 enrolments

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, 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. The great news is that this enables us to share skills and knowledge across a network of passionate education providers, to better help you succeed. Enrolling in programmes that start in 2023, means that 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.