Explore your options

Study animal health and welfare with us and you'll learn the industry-specific skills you need for a career. Whether it's animal advocacy, health and welfare or behaviour, captive animal management or veterinary nursing, our animal care courses are in-depth and always relevant.

Hands-on learning means you’ll handle and care for animals in a range of different settings. It’s great practice for the real world and lets you try out your skills in a supervised environment. Through practical work placements, you'll recognise the signs of good health and ill health in all sorts of animals. You’ll also get an understanding of the social, ethical and environmental issues that impact animal management.

A career working with animals is fulfilling and diverse, and thanks to the increasing global awareness of animal rights, there are jobs all over the world for well-trained and enthusiastic professionals. 

Programmes and study path

Start with a programme that suits your qualifications and/or experience, then progress to a level that achieves your goals.
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Companion Animal)3Full-time over one semester. Part-time over one year. Distance learning from Apr to Sept.Animal minder in a range of animal facilities, Boarding kennel or cattery attendant, Pet shop assistant, Wildlife rehabilitation aide, Facility assistant for SPCA, Pet supply sales representativeFebruary for part-time students
July for full-time students
April for distance learning students
Certificate in Animal Welfare Investigations4Full-time distance learning for one year (including three five-day compulsory block courses and compulsory work experience)Animal welfare agency worker, Animal welfare investigatorFebruary
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Canine Behaviour and Training)4Full-time for one yearService dog training, Dog support services, Kennels/doggy daycare, Animal welfare organisations (canine)February
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Wild Animals)4Full-time distance learning for one year (including work experience and three compulsory block courses)Animal carer in a wildlife park or animal sanctuary, ZookeeperFebruary
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Companion Animals)4Full-time for one yearAnimal control, Kennel/cattery, Pet stores, Doggy daycare, Pet product sales representativeFebruary
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Veterinary Nursing Assistant)5Full-time for one year or distance learning options available.Veterinary nurse assistant (NZ or overseas veterinary clinics), Animal shelter/rescue centre employee, Kennel/cattery employee, Pet product industry representative, Laboratory animal assistant, Own business options such as pet minding, product retail, etcFebruary
New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing6Full-time for one year, part-time for two years or distance learning options availableQualified veterinary nurse (with opportunities to advance to senior levels), Veterinary clinic practice manager, Pet food company representative, Veterinary supply company representative, Pharmaceutical company representative, Laboratory animal manager, Laboratory animal technician, Breeding centre managerFebruary
Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Management and Welfare)7Full-time for three years or part-time options availableAnimal welfare scientific officer, Animal behaviour and/or welfare consultant, Welfare education officer, Animal welfare inspector, Animal handlerFebruary or July
Bachelor of Applied Science (Science Communication)7Full-time for three years or part-time options availableScience communications advisor, Science journalist, Science educator, Science media presenter, Documentary maker, Researcher, Science content creatorFebruary or July

Industry connections

Unitec staff are members of, and work closely with, the following professional associations:

  • New Zealand Veterinary Association
  • New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association
  • New Zealand Companion Animal Council
  • Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
  • Ornithological Society of New Zealand
  • Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Royal New Zealand SPCA
  • International Society for Applied Ethology
  • South Pacific Animal Welfare (SPAW)

Work experience

Choose one of our animal management and welfare or veterinary programmes and you'll get the chance to participate in work placements with organisations like:

  • Auckland SPCA
  • Auckland Zoo
  • Department of Conservation
  • Disability Dogs
  • Hamilton Zoo
  • MPI Animal Welfare
  • MPI Biosecurity
  • Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch
  • Royal New Zealand SPCA
  • Waitakere Animal Welfare Centre
  • Wellington Zoo
  • Vet Care Unitec and Vet Care Grey Lynn
  • Veterinary Specialist Group (advanced hospital and emergency care)
  • New Zealand Conservation Medicine Centre at Auckland Zoo


Study one of our animal care programmes and you'll benefit from learning in our on-campus small animal unit, where you'll handle and learn to care for different animals.

Study veterinary nursing and you'll learn in our cutting-edge, simulated veterinary teaching clinic. It's a safe, supervised environment where you can build up experience before you move to a real clinic.

You'll also gain practical experience at our on-campus fully functioning vet clinic, Vet Care Unitec, and Veterinary Specialist Group, the only veterinary hospital in the country to deal exclusively with specialist cases referred from vets around New Zealand. At the vet clinic, you'll experience first-hand how a busy vet practice works and assist with a variety of tasks, from consultations and de-sexing to general surgery, vaccinations and X-rays.

Unitec's simulation vet clinic