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Study Animal Management and Welfare today

New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care - Companion Animals

Learn how to care for companion animals in this entry-level qualification. It’s a great stepping stone towards higher-level, animal-related study and work. 

70 credits (0.583 EFTS)
Mt Albert
Start dates
February (part-time on-campus), June (full-time, with online and block courses)
Full-time for 19 weeks. Part-time over 1 year.

Programme overview

Ready to kick-start your professional career working with animals? You might be straight out of school, already working with animals or thinking about a career change.

This programme covers all aspects of animal care, including health, hygiene, behaviour, and handling. You’ll develop the applied knowledge and skills to care for a wide range of companion animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, reptiles and birds, in various settings including your home, pet shops, kennels and catteries.

You can choose a study option that works best with your schedule:

  • Part-time study (evening classes) is the best ‘work and study option’. You’ll attend 2 x 3-hour night classes each week from February to November. Classes will be on Monday and Tuesday evenings.
  • Full-time study (online + block courses) – don’t live in Auckland? Keen to move into the higher-level animal study? Get qualified in 19 weeks by studying full-time over one semester from late June to November.

Anyone from across New Zealand can apply for this study option. You must attend two compulsory block courses at our Mt Albert campus where you’ll learn all your practical skills. 


  • Prepare to work in a range of companion animal workplaces. Develop a comprehensive understanding of animal husbandry, essential communication skills, and professional capabilities.
  • Get qualified for higher-level study. This programme provides a pathway for further study in a range of animal-related programmes at Unitec.
  • Practical applied learning and work experience. You'll get a hands-on introduction to animal care in 10 hours of on-site practical training at Unitec’s Behaviour and Husbandry Centre, Te Puna Kararehe. You’ll also complete 48 hours of placement experience at an approved external facility.
  • Learn from the best. passionate teaching staff who are experts in their fields and work closely with the industry.

Blended learning

This study option is full-time (off-campus and online), and you'll be required to attend 2 compulsory 5-day block courses at our Mt Albert campus.
To study from a distance, you need to be self-motivated, committed, and have excellent time management skills. You must attend all block courses, exams, practical assessments and work experience, and complete your self-directed study (research, reading, revision) and assessment writing.
You'll also need consistent access to a computer with a reliable internet connection and appropriate office software, e.g. Microsoft Office, which we'll provide once you‘re enrolled.

Where to next?

Once you’ve graduated, you’ll be qualified to work in the animal care industry with limited supervision.

Interested in more study? This programme will give you the academic admission requirements for higher-level animal programmes at Unitec, including: 





Te Puna Kararehe

Home to creatures of all shapes and sizes – furry, hairy and scaly – the Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Centre provides a safe and secure place to learn about the care, health and husbandry of a wide range of companion animal species.

One day, you might learn about enriching ways to feed a rabbit or what's involved with a guinea pig's routine health check. You may also use the facility to undertake behaviour-based research projects like food preference testing with a blue-tongue skink.

Then there's the added benefit of being able to interact with amazing animals on your lunchbreak, and make it as positive for the animals as it is for you.

Te Puna Kararehe

Admission requirements

To enter this programme, you’ll need to have the following:

  • NCEA Level 1 with strengths from the Vocational Pathway Primary Industries sector

Don’t meet these requirements?

Simply apply online, and we’ll be in touch about your next steps.

Additional requirements

When you apply for this programme, you must provide proof of your identity (ID) and other documents, such as academic certificates. Please have these handy when you’re ready to apply.

See what documents you may need to provide

English language requirements

You’ll need to meet the following English language requirement:

  • 8 credits at NCEA Level 1 in English or equivalent

If you don’t meet this requirement, you must provide evidence that you have the English proficiency required.

For more information, download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
Introduction to Professional Skills when Working with Companion Animals (ANML3101TP) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) The aim of this course is to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies to assist in animal care in an ethical, legal and professional manner
Behaviour, Handling and Transportation for Companion Animals (ANML3102TP) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) The aim of this course is to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies to identify companion animals and appropriate handling techniques.
Introduction to form, function and preventative health for companion animals (ANML3103TP) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) The aim of this course is to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies relevant to companion animal anatomy and physiology to support animal health practices and disease prevention.
Introduction to Husbandry for Companion Animals (ANML3104TP) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) Develop knowledge, skills and competencies relative to husbandry of companion animals.
Work Experience with Companion Animals (ANML3105TP) 10.0 credits (0.083 EFTS) The aim of this course is to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies to assist in a companion animal care facility.

Unitec is part of Te Pūkenga

On 1 October 2022 Unitec became part of Te Pūkenga. Find out more about Te Pūkenga and what this means for you.