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Pūtaiao Kararehe

Animal Science

Open the door to a wide range of careers with animals.

Studying animal science can lead to many rewarding careers working with companion animals. Our programmes will equip you with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to provide professional animal care in various environments such as vet clinics, boarding kennels or catteries and animal welfare shelters.

The New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Level 4) will suit you if you’d like to work in areas such as rescue and welfare, research, animal nutrition, day care facilities, breeding or boarding facilities and pet shops.

If your career aspirations are dog-focused, the New Zealand Certificate in Canine Behaviour and Training (Level 4) will set you up well for employment as a professional dog trainer or handler. This option is delivered at Ara in Christchurch, by Unitec | Te Pūkenga. To apply for this programme, you must have regular access to a suitable dog (as approved by Unitec’s specialist dog trainers, to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for you and the dog).

The New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) with Veterinary Nursing Assistant Strand and the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6) will suit you if your goal is to be involved in companion animal veterinary practices.

Please note: It’s important to have a realistic understanding of what’s involved in working with animals before you apply to study one of our animal science programmes. Working with animals is highly rewarding but it can also be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. You're likely to work with animals that are sick, injured or have challenging behavioural issues so it’s important that you’re results-oriented. Sometimes the work is emotionally taxing, so you need to be practical and resilient. In many cases you’ll deal directly with the owners of the animals you’re caring for so being a confident people-person with a high degree of empathy and good communication skills is vital. And if you choose to study a veterinary-related course, you’ll also need strong academic skills with a good aptitude for maths, science and complex medical and technical procedures.

Ara has a strong focus on hands-on learning. When you study animal science with us, you’ll undertake a mix of theoretical and practical training, including work placements. Depending on the programme you choose, your subjects may include: animal behaviour, handling and health; animal first aid; emergency planning and biosecurity; animal anatomy; animal welfare and legislation; husbandry and breeding; facilities animal management; animal accommodation; surgical and anaesthetic training; clinical nursing; management of veterinary nursing practices and veterinary diagnostics.

You’ll learn from tutors who are fully qualified vets, veterinary nurses or zoologists who have impressive industry relationships in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand. Our academic staff include the Past President of the New Zealand Veterinary Nurses Association and the Past Chair of the Animal Science and Technology Board (a standing committee of the New Zealand Veterinary Association). We work closely with animal facilities and veterinary clinics across Canterbury who come to us to recruit students for work.