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New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Vet Nursing Assistant)

Level 5

Do you have previous animal handling experience and the desire to work in a veterinary related field or in a veterinary clinic with companion animals? Take the first step toward a Vet Nursing career with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology.

Veterinary Nursing students work with a dog at our Palmerston North campus
Quick info

Level: 5

Locations: Palmerston North

Duration: 1 year, full-time*

20 Feb 2017 - 1 Dec 2017
24 Jul 2017 - 8 Jun 2018

Domestic Fees:*
$6,162.56Scholarship info

International Fees:*

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). Fees for multi-year programmes are for one year of study.

At UCOL you will discover the rich rewards of working with animals. Upon completion of this programme, you will be able to provide assistance to veterinarians and veterinary nurses in a companion animal practice, or continue your studies with the New Zealand Diploma in Vet Nursing Level 6.

As a graduate of this qualification, you will be able to:

  • Work in client business interface of animal related facility;
  • Maintain animal health and husbandry of animals in a veterinary clinic;
  • Care for hospitalized patients;
  • Assist in  surgery preparation and anaesthesia;
  • Assist with routine diagnostic procedures.

Career & Study Outcomes

Companion animal veterinary nursing related or animal care fields:

  • Veterinary nurse assistant
  • Pet stores and groomers
  • Boarding and training facilities
  • Animal rescue centres
  • Animal recreation businesses
  • Pet sitters and walker
  • Or staircase to further study

Industry Connections

  • Totally Vets
  • Southern Rangitikei Veterinary Services (SRVS)
  • Cahill Animal Hospital
  • Veterinary Nursing Educational Standards Committee (VNESC)
  • NZ Pharmaceuticals (NZP)
  • Gribbles Veterinary
  • Other local Veterinary Clinics

Learning Facilities

  • An animal housing facility with appropriate cages and housing for daytime housing of all animals used and onsite overnight housing facilities for some companion animals.
  • Practical handling room and mock surgery.
  • Appropriate husbandry equipment such as dog bath, feeding, grooming equipment and restraint devices.
  • A handling facility with an examination/practical room either on or offsite.
  • Access to cats, dogs, rabbits, companion animals and birds
  • Access to the science labs including
  • Microscopes and basic microbiological laboratory equipment.
  • Incubators and water baths.
  • Histology and parasitology specimens, slides and equipment.
  • Diagnostic testing equipment.
  • Anaesthetic and surgical equipment.
  • Access to the Xray labs including working Xray machines, safety equipment, grids, film, radiographic phantoms and viewing equipment

Domestic Entry Requirements

Applicants under the age of 20:

Applicants must have the equivalent of NCEA L2 including 12 level 2 English credits; 12 level 1 Maths credits and 12 credits of relevant Science at level 1.

All applicants are required to:

  • Declare any previous criminal convictions prior to admission being confirmed. Convictions of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Leader; and
  • Authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency; and
  • Complete a health declaration form including tetanus status; and
  • Demonstrate an aptitude for working with the public. This may be shown by a reference from an employer where the applicant has worked with the public, or by a reference from a teacher attesting to social skills.

In addition, applicants are required to demonstrate previous experience working with animals. Either:

  • A minimum of 20 hours observing in a veterinary clinic. This may be demonstrated by information in the applicant's CV, or a separate written attestation. 
  • A minimum of 70 hours with businesses such as SPCA, kennels, catteries, pet shops or on a farm.

These may be demonstrated by information in the applicant's Curriculum Vitae, or a separate written attestation.  Upon being contacted by UCOL, a referee must be able to verify this experience.

International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international student applicants.

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS (or equivalent including TOEFL) score of 6.0 with no band score lower than 5.5. UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. The English Proficiency test is accepted for English language entry into all UCOL programmes.

Under 20 years of age
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

Advice & Guidance

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Veterinary Nursing Assistant) comprises 120 credits.

To optimise chances of student success, 100% attendance is required for all practical classes and work placements.  It is also strongly recommended for all theory classes.

Students must be able to carry out physical activities within the Animal Room and work placement to fulfil the requirements of the programme. Students must also have no objection to working with animals, dissection of animal body parts, body fluids and cadavers.

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course or unit standards have already been met.

Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Veterinary Nursing Assistant) of approximately $460.00:

  • Navy or black dress trousers (not jeans)
  • Covered shoes (eg sneakers)
  • Calculator
  • Stationery (pens, pencils, ruler, paper, notebook etc)
Text books
  • BSAVA: Textbook of Veterinary Nursing (5th edition) by Lane, D.R., Cooper, B.C., and Turner L. (2011)
  • Dictionary of Veterinary Nursing (3rd edition) by Lane, D.R. and Guthrie, S. (2007)
  • Anaesthesia for Veterinary Nurses (2nd edition) by Welsh, E. (2003)

Previous Related Programmes

The New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Vet Nursing Assistant) supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:
- Diploma in Veterinary Nursing

Course Information

  • Applied Safety and Anatomy for Veterinary Nursing Practice
  • Animal Behaviour, Handling and Nutrition
  • Health Care of Animals for Veterinary Nursing
  • Introduction to Veterinary Practice
  • Welfare and Well-Being for Veterinary Practice
  • Veterinary Surgical and Diagnostic Services
  • Anaesthetic Monitoring and Analgesia of Animal Patients
  • Care of Hospitalised Animal Patients


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.