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



One year full-time or two years part-time

Study via distance with a four-day block course in Dunedin or Wairarapa and 240 hours of compulsory work experience

  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Distance
    14 February 2022
    18 July 2022 - 22 July 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
    11 April 2022 - 22 April 2022
    1 August 2022 - 12 August 2022
  • Distance
    14 February 2022
    18 July 2022 - 22 July 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
    11 April 2022 - 22 April 2022
    1 August 2022 - 12 August 2022
  • Distance
    31 January 2022
    18 July 2022 - 22 July 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
    11 April 2022 - 22 April 2022
    1 August 2022 - 12 August 2022

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

This programme gives you the skills to be a technician, working with farm animals such as cows, sheep, horses and pigs.

Graduate with the expertise to care for rural animals and the technical skills needed to independently carry out a number of tasks in the rural veterinary practice. Become skilled at handling a range of rural animal species as well as managing the care of rural animal patients with conditions such as lameness and mastitis. You will be adept at taking diagnostic samples, managing disease and parasite prevention strategies, as well as assisting with reproduction medicine including metri-checking, calving and calf rearing.

You'll develop your communication skills, be able to manage client education and understand rural veterinary practice management. Benefit from first-rate block course facilities and a range of rural veterinary equipment, including a well-resourced training laboratory and farm visits where animal handling takes place. Online, flexible delivery allows you to fit your study around other commitments and make use of our industry connections. 

Skills required
  • A genuine interest in rural animal species
  • Good communication and computer skills
  • The ability to handle stressful emergency situations
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • To be sensible and highly motivated. 
You will study

You will study one year full-time or two years part-time. 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). 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. 

Studying via distance

The School of Veterinary Nursing is a leader among veterinarian schools in the provision of distance education. Thanks to our online vet nursing study resources and flexible learning strategies, traditional challenges unique to distance-based learning are well managed. Assistance is always on hand through our extensive support systems which include:

  • Practical block courses
  • Materials and assignments provided via the internet
  • Internet tutorials
  • Learning Management System - MOODLE
  • Communication through Otago Polytechnic 0800 telephone, email and the internet.
Your workload

All study is structured but self-directed and, in a typical week you should aim for around 35-40 hours of study as a full time student, or 15-20 hours as a part time student, including work experience. Assessment due dates are spread throughout the year and a timetable for the year is provided at the start of the programme. You have a choice of two block course venues either in Dunedin or in the Wairarapa - the number and attendance requirements are to be advised. Some of the block course sessions require travel to farms/veterinary clinics at a distance away from the Otago Polytechnic campus. 

Employment opportunities and further study options

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. Alternatively, you could 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.

Read more about the growing role of technicians in veterinary practice here.

Entry requirements

Academic entry requirements

  • 60 credits at NCEA Level 2, with a minimum of:
    • 12 credits in English at Level 2, and 
    • 12 credits in Maths at Level 1, and 
    • 12 credits in Science at Level 1 
    • OR equivalent
    • OR evidence of meeting Step 5 Literacy and Numeracy for Adults, Assessment Tool. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:
    • New Zealand University Entrance OR
    • Overall Academic IELTS 6.0 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years)
      • Reading band 5.5
      • Writing band 6.0
      • Speaking band 6.0
      • Listening band 5.5, OR   
  • Acceptable alternative evidence of the required IELTS (see here for NZQA proficiency table and here for list of recognised proficiency tests).

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Alternative entry criteria: Although our basic academic entry requirements are as outlined above, our preference for entry into this programme is NCEA Level 3, or the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) (Companion Animals) or equivalent. 

Evidence entry requirements

Learners must be able to demonstrate previous experience of working with animals and an aptitude for work with the public and must provide:

  1. Evidence of at least three or more days observing the role veterinarians and veterinary nurses undertake in a rural animal veterinary clinic.**
    Please note: If you are struggling with this requirement, please email so we can have a chat with you.
  2. Evidence/reference demonstrating an aptitude for working with the public for instance from an employer, teacher, manager of a volunteer organisation. Download the Referee report here.**
  3. Declaration of Health and Tetanus Status.**
  4. Criminal Convictions History – enrolment will be contingent on the status of this history report. 

    You will need to supply a Criminal Convictions History (via the Ministry of Justice), which is 6 months old or less, before the start date of your programme if you are a NEW student to the School of Veterinary Nursing. 

    If you have studied with us in the last calendar year, have previously supplied us with a criminal convictions report and are returning to the School of Veterinary Nursing for further study you will only need to make a declaration (click here) stating your history hasn’t changed since the previous report.

  5. Evidence of veterinary clinic to support practicum components of the programme

NOTE: Completion of the enrolment process will be contingent on information provided in the Criminal Convictions History.

You can enter information and upload documents directly into the application form. You may wish to prepare some of the required documentation beforehand.

To begin your application, click the Apply button at the top of this page.

**Once your application has been received, if successful you will be sent a Conditional Offer into the programme. In this offer there will be a link provided to some templates to enable you to provide evidence of your three day observation and work placement.  
Please note: If you are struggling with this observation and placement requirement, please email so we can have a chat with you.

All applicants must also:

  • have access to a computer, camera, video and the internet
  • submit a health declaration (this template will be provided with the link on your Conditional Offer).  
Additional documentation

If you have not enrolled in the School of Veterinary Nursing previously, you must supply certified copies of proof of identity, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and evidence of your current tetanus status.

Selection procedure

All applicants are advised within ten working days of receipt of their application whether they have been accepted.

Recognition of prior learning

If you have previously studied NZCAT VNA with Otago Polytechnic you may be eligible for some assessment of prior learning.  Scope of eligibility will vary between students depending on prior farm skills and experience.  If you have extensive animal nursing knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.

Additional costs
  • Required texts - $200 (approx.)
  • Photocopy and printing costs for personal work and assessments
  • Travel, accommodation and food costs associated with attendance at block courses and work placement
  • Access to a video camera/phone that can record video footage.

If you are not already employed in a suitable veterinary practice or you have not previously studied with us, you may need to purchase the following:

  • Stethoscope - $20
  • Closed-in shoes - $100 (approx.)
  • Shirt - $50
  • Overalls - $80
  • Name badge - $15. 
Student loans/allowances with TTAF

Whilst this programme is free for you to study via the Trades and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), this fund only covers tuition fees and compulsory costs such as student levies. It does not cover any additional costs or living costs. You can pay for additional and living costs by yourself if that is possible for you or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink.      

It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

  • For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website  
Useful links 

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.

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