Veterinary Nursing

Our animal care and veterinary nursing programmes focus on promoting the health, husbandry and welfare of animals. So, if you are passionate about working with animals, you could find yourself in a range of rewarding settings.

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Learn the skills you need to succeed in the animal care industry. We have a wide range of qualifications and courses, from general veterinary nursing qualifications to specialist programmes in avian wildlife and equine care. You’ll gain significant industry-related work experience and benefit from the Wildlife Hospital based at our Dunedin campus. The Wildlife Hospital has a fully equipped veterinary clinic, surgery, hospital and surgical preparation area, kennels, and a laboratory.

Otago Polytechnic is the first New Zealand Polytechnic to hold the Certified Low Stress Handling for Dogs and Cats Award, which means you’ll also graduate knowing the best way to handle an animal.

The biggest point of difference at Otago Polytechnic is our real-world approach to learning. The experience you’ll gain on your work placements as part of your studies will give you the skills to seamlessly transition from study to employment or promotion.

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New programmes for 2023

Our whānau will be getting bigger soon as all New Zealand Polytechnics come together under one organisation – Te Pūkenga. We’re excited to be offering some new programmes from 2023. These are listed by NZQA and are in the final stages of consultation but you can apply now or chat to us about what will suit you best.

Veterinary Nursing qualifications

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

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

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'll 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).

Duration

20 Weeks Full-time

Delivery

Online with a work placement

Career potential

Animal Education, Animal Trainer, Kennel and Cattery Management, Pet Grooming, SPCA Work, Wildlife Management

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

This one-year programme is only for those who already hold a New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Veterinary Nursing Assistant), or the older version of this qualification, the National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing.

We are now offering a new, two year New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6) which is the result of a large-scale review of veterinary nursing programmes. This new Diploma is for those that don’t hold the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Veterinary Nursing Assistant) or the National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing. Visit op.ac.nz/vet-nurse for more info about the new, two-year Diploma.

Duration

1 Year Full-time

Delivery

On campus, Online with block course(s)

Location

Online, Wellington, Dunedin

Career potential

Veterinary Nurse

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

For the first time in the South Island, and in collaboration with the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), we are now offering the third year of this qualification online. Otago Polytechnic Veterinary Nursing learners can now pathway through the Level 5 Certificate during year one, the Level 6 Diploma during year two and then move into this EIT qualification to complete their degree-level Veterinary Nursing study.

Duration

1 Year Full-time

Delivery

Online with a work placement

Career potential

Animal Career Educator, Specialist Clinic Roles, Veterinary Nurse, Veterinary Nurse Educator

Specialise in Avian Wildlife

Specialise in Avian Wildlife

Our specialist avian wildlife courses are tailored to qualified veterinary nurses and vets.

Chris Neville

Chris Neville

After graduating, Chris now supervises at a dog-care facility, interacting, playing with and monitoring the dogs in his care.

Discover our School of Veterinary Nursing

Get a taste of what it's like to study this field at Otago Polytechnic:

  • See all programmes offered 
  • Meet your lecturers and find out what makes them leaders in their chosen area  
  • Hear about our latest news and events  
  • Learn first-hand what it’s like to study with us from real students and graduates  
  • Read about our postgraduate research and projects

School of Veterinary Nursing

Contact us

If you’re not sure what to study and would like some guidance, we’re here to help. Feel free to chat to us directly about any questions you may have.