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NZQA Certificate in Animal Care

Animal Care Course Overview

Would you like to graduate with the NZQA New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) and launch your career in the fish and animal care sectors for FREE?

If so, then this course is for you.

This is your opportunity to up-skill, gain further confidence, and achieve an animal care New Zealand Certificate qualification.

The course has a strong practical focus ensuring you will have the skill level necessary to work in this exciting, fast growing and diverse industry.

This NZQA approved 36 week part-time programme is available to students throughout New Zealand. If you are a NZ citizen or Permanent Resident, this course is FREE.

The programme involves a significant amount of practical, on-site training within a pet store.

Already working in a pet store? Great! Otherwise, we can help you find a placement in a pet store.


  • This is an entry-level programme available all year round
  • Gain confidence in dealing with either fish, and / or companion animals
  • If you specialise in fish, you will learn about:
    • the principles of water quality management
    • aquatic system design and construction
    • filtration and maintenance procedures
    • fish nutrition and how to treat common fish diseases
  • If you specialise in companion animals, you will learn about:
    • various breeds
    • caring for animals correctly
    • dealing with infections and the transportation of dogs, cats and birds
  • There will be times when your tutor will come into your pet store / workplace for practical work, and support is just a phone call / email away
  • This qualification is a collaboration between Pacific Coast Technical Institute and Manukau Institute of Technology
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What our Animal Care course will teach you

Graduates of this qualification will be able to:

  • Assist with the day-to-day care of animals
  • Respond to normal and abnormal health and behaviour in animals
  • Comply with all regulatory requirements and relevant industry codes of practice for animal care

Completion of this course will give you confidence in dealing with either fish, and/or companion animals.

In the fish strand, you will gain a strong understanding of; the principles of water quality management, aquatic system design and construction, filtration and maintenance procedures, fish nutrition and how to treat common fish diseases.

In the companion animal strand, you will learn about various breeds, caring for animals correctly, dealing with infections and the transportation of dogs, cats and birds.

Certificate Awarded

In recognition of your efforts and on successful completion of the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) Fish and/or Companion Animals, you will be presented with:

  • NZQA New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3)
  • A relevant animal graduate badge from the Pacific Coast Technical Institute
  • A Manukau Institute of Technology Certificate

Endorsement From The Industry

“This course format, delivery mode and content is refreshing. The combination of assessment tools and the PCTI expertise will meet an increasing need for relevant education and training in our industry.”

Mike Tasker, Chairman, New Zealand Pet Industry Association


  • No academic requirements. Open Entry
  • You must be at least 16 years of age
  • You must be a NZ citizen or Permanent Resident
  • International students are not eligible to enrol on this course
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What Students Think

“Years ago, I graduated from university with a master’s degree in Agriculture which was meant to provide me with the knowledge necessary to be successful in the aquatic and ornamental fish industry, a dream I had coming from being a hobbyist in the aquarium industry. This was well before I immigrated to NZ.

The level 3 Animal Care qualification (fish) allowed me to bring everything together and distill it down to what I need to know to successfully set up an aquarium/pond design and maintenance business. Not only does it give me an opportunity for all my staff to operate on the same basis, it also helps me to streamline my business with best practices and company policies.

I highly recommend this course for anyone who is passionate about the aquarium industry or is active in it.”

Arne Diependaele, Managing Director, Red Fish Blue Fish

“I did the level 3 animal care qualification a few years ago and it has helped set me up for a career in the pet industry.

I am now the manager of a large pet store and I encourage all my colleagues and staff to also do this qualification.

It covers exactly what you need to know and not only makes it easier to do the job well but the animals get better care too”

Kasey Rountree, Store Manager, Animates Manukau

“Having completed this animal care qualification some years ago as a pet industry sales rep I can say without doubt that it has helped me in the operating of the pet shop that I now own.

I urge all my staff to undertake this course and would recommend it to anyone wanting to work successfully in the pet industry”.

Christopher Taylor, The Animal Shack

Start Dates and Duration

  • You can start this course anytime. If you are already working in a pet store or have access to fish or companion animals in your workplace, why not get your workmates to start with you?
  • The programme is part-time, and uses self-directed study (distance education) over a 36 week period
  • Expect to put in 20 hours per week into the course. This will be made up on practical work experience and self-directed study in your own time
  • Your tutor will also visit your store several times during this period
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Cost? FREE!

  • FREE for NZ Citizens and Permanent Residents
  • International students are not eligible to enrol on this course

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Register using the form below and our course administrator, Donna, will be in contact:

  • Donna Waterson
  • Course Administrator
  • Toll Free: 0508 257 246
  • Email: donna@pcti.co.nz
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