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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, Whangarei
Start dates
February (part-time on-campus), June (full-time, with online and block courses), September (on-campus and North Tec - Whangārei - 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 Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
  • Full-time study (online + block courses) – don’t live in Auckland? Keen to move into 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. 
  • September- Summer study (On Campus or Online + block courses): Full-time On-campus delivery, Monday and Tuesday, 10 AM to 2.30 PM during most weeks of delivery. North Tec - Whangārei campus delivery is online + block courses where you must attend two compulsory courses.


  • 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 two compulsory 5-day block courses at our Mt Albert campus.
To study from a distance, you must 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:

Open Entry - There are no academic requirements for this programme.​

Additional requirements

All application needs to meet or submit the following;

  • Health and tetanus declaration
  • Provide a copy of your current criminal conviction history

English language requirements

All applicants for whom English or te reo Māori is not a first language need to provide evidence that they have the necessary English language proficiency required for the programme. International applicants are required to have an IELTS score of 5 (general or academic) with no individual band lower than 5 from one test taken in the preceding two years, or an equivalent described in NZQA Rules.

Don’t meet these requirements?

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

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.