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Study Animal health and welfare today

Animal Health and Welfare

Do you love animals? Animal health and welfare programmes at Unitec prepare you for a satisfying career working with all sorts of animals, both big and small. Whether you’re interested in animal welfare and behaviour, zoo-keeping, canine behaviour and training, or veterinary nursing, there are so many areas to specialise in when it comes to caring for animals.

Explore your options

Study animal health and welfare with us and you'll learn the industry-specific skills you need for a career working with animals. Whether it's in animal advocacy, health, welfare and behaviour, captive animal management, or veterinary nursing, our animal-related programmes are in-depth and always relevant to what's happening in the industry and the world.

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 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 in the animal health and welfare industry is fulfilling and diverse, and thanks to the increasing global awareness of animal rights, there are jobs all over the world for well-trained, passionate, 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) 3 Full-time for 16 weeks. Part-time over one year. Distance learning for six months. 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 representative, Entry into further study at certificate or diploma level. February (part-time), April (distance learning), July (full-time), or September (distance learning)
Certificate in Animal Welfare Investigations 4 Full-time distance learning for one year (including three five-day compulsory block courses and compulsory work experience) Animal welfare agency worker, Animal welfare investigator February
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Canine Behaviour and Training) 4 Full-time for one year Dog support services, Kennels/doggy daycare, Animal welfare organisations (canine), Pet Dog Trainer February
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Wild Animals) 4 Full-time distance learning for one year (including work experience and three compulsory block courses) Animal carer in a wildlife park or animal sanctuary, Zookeeper February
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Companion Animals) 4 Full-time for one year Animal control, Kennel/cattery, Pet stores, Doggy daycare, Pet product sales representative February
New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Veterinary Nursing Assistant) 5 Full-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, etc February
New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing 6 Full-time for one year, part-time for two years or distance learning options available Qualified 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 manager February
Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Management and Welfare) 7 Full-time for three years or part-time options available Animal welfare scientific officer, Animal behaviour and/or welfare consultant, Welfare education officer, Animal welfare inspector, Animal handler February 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 health and welfare 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
  • Waitākere 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

Our Facilities

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 Veterinary Simulation 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 VetCare Unitec, our on-campus fully functioning vet clinic, 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.

Study canine behaviour and training, and you'll have the opportunity to use our Dog Agility Facility, where you'll learn many aspects of canine obedience and training (including off-leash areas). 

We also have a Herbarium - which contains over 10,400 preserved specimens of plants and lichens - a Molecular Ecology Lab  - where we focus on leading-edge molecular tools and genetic data - and an Insect Collection - a preserved teaching and research collection of butterflies, beetles, and other invertebrates. 

Unitec's simulation vet clinic