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Institute of Technology or Polytechnic

Ara Institute of Canterbury
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New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Level 4) with Companion Animal Strand

This course is available


Level of Study



1 year

Next start date

Expected Feb 2025


Ara Institute of Canterbury


Match your passion for animals with the skills and knowledge to work in the diverse and rewarding field of animal care.

This programme is the perfect first step into a career working with companion animals. The programme will equip you with knowledge and skills for a variety of areas including kennel and cattery management, rescue and animal welfare centres, pet sitting, pet stores, day care centres, pet ownership education and working as an animal technician.

You’ll learn about a range of companion animals (e.g. dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice and birds), their health and welfare and how to manage and care for them on a day-to-day basis. This will include animal anatomy and physiology, occupational health and safety, low stress handling of animals, animal behaviour and health, animal first aid, record keeping, legislation and housing design. More advanced topics include nutrition, infection control, care during illness/injury, safe use of medications, designing optimum temporary housing spaces, facility planning, behavioural training and enrichment.

Work-integrated learning is a significant component of the programme, with students needing to complete 120 hours in two different facilities over the year. You’ll have the opportunity to spend some of this time in a work environment that suits the area of animal management you’re most interested in.

Due to the practical nature of the programme, you must have a good level of fitness to be able to carry out the physical activities.

Career opportunities

With this qualification you’ll have the skills to competently manage the day-to-day care of animals in a variety of situations such as kennels, catteries and animal welfare centres, or as a pet sitter. Depending on your interests, you could also find employment as an animal welfare worker, pet shop assistant, animal lab technician, facility manager, pet supplies sales representative or in the animal education industry. Other options include studying for an animal physiology or zoology degree, or branching into other science-based study.

Study pathways

After completing this programme, you can continue to build on your knowledge and skills in this area with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management Captive Wildlife Strand Level 4, or the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology with strands in Rural Animal Technician and Veterinary Nursing Assistant Level 5.

Entry criteria

40 credits at NCEA Level 1, including 10 Literacy credits and 10 Numeracy credits; or a recognised equivalent;

OR a relevant qualification at NZQF Level 2 or above;

OR a recognised equivalent qualification

If you have undertaken examinations other than NCEA (e.g. International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Examination), Ara will assess your qualification for academic entry equivalency.

Alternative requirements

Still want to study but don't meet the Academic Requirements?

If you show that you have equivalent skills for tertiary study gained through study, work and/or life experience, you may be able to gain alternative entry.

English language requirement:

IELTS test - General or Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5


TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT) - Score of 530 (with an essay score of 4.5 TWE)

TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) - Score of 46 (with a writing score of 14)

Cambridge English Qualifications - B2 First or B2 First for schools with a score of 162. No less than 154 in each skill

Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE (Academic) score of 42 with no band score lower than 36

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