New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology strand in Veterinary Nursing Assistant (Level 5)

This exciting one-year programme prepares you with the skills, knowledge and attributes you need to work as a veterinary nursing assistant in a companion animal practice.

As a veterinary nursing assistant you'll work in a team environment to assist vets and vet nurses in a range of areas including animal husbandry, caring for hospitalised patients, anaesthesia, surgery assistance and preparation, and diagnostic procedures.

There's loads of practical handling, animal facility and vet clinic work and you'll learn from qualified, practising vets and vet nurses at our own on-campus animal care facility, and at vet clinics within the community.

Content Details

During this intensive programme you'll cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, animal welfare and legislation, animal handling, reception and administration, communication skills, sales, animal health and husbandry, self-management, team work and how to assist with routine procedures.

You’ll also learn how to monitor animals under anaesthetic and nurse them through recovery, assist vets to conduct radiography, administer pharmaceutical drugs, prepare animals for domestic and international travel, and communicate advice to clients.

Topics covered:

  • Husbandry and Welfare of Companion Animals
  • Veterinary Clinic Skills
  • Anaesthesia and surgical veterinary nursing
  • Client Advice- Animal welfare and management
  • Hospitalised Care for Surgical and Medical Animal Patients
  • Diagnostics and Imaging
  • Practical Animal Husbandry and Welfare
  • Practical Clinical skills

With a host of animals on site at our on-campus animal care facility, which includes fish, reptiles, sheep, horses, calves, birds, rabbits and rodents, plus kennels and cages for dogs and cats – you’ll have a regular obligation to care for a wide range of animals. The programme incorporates at least 240 hours of work placement in animal facilities and veterinary clinics throughout the year while you study.


Planned intakes*: February
Delivery modes: Full-time
Locations*: Tauranga (Windermere Campus)
Duration: One year

* subject to change. Intakes may vary between locations.

To see full details of the next available intake please visit the application form.

Indicative Fees

2018 domestic students $6,072.00

2018 international students $19,952.00

Course related costs may apply

The fee shown for domestic students is applicable to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. If an international fee is not listed above please refer to the international fees page. All fees are indicative only and subject to change.

You MAY be eligible for a StudyLink Student Loan for your tuition fees.

Find out if your programme qualifies by visiting the Studylink website.

If you also need to pay course related costs, i.e. if outlined in programme costs above, you need to apply separately to StudyLink (up to $1,000/academic year for eligible students). Note course related costs are paid directly into your bank account by StudyLink and you will be required to pay this to Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Qualifications Gained

Upon successful completion of the programme you will receive:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) strand in Veterinary Nursing Assistant 

Career Opportunities

Graduates usually aim to work as veterinary nursing assistants and are quickly snapped up by the vet clinics around the country. There are also plenty of other employment options in the animal industry (see potential employers below).

Graduates can also be self-employed, with a growing number of opportunities in pet grooming and dog day care services.

Potential Employers:

  • Vet clinics
  • Doggy daycares centres and pet sitters
  • Pet shops
  • Boarding kennels and catteries
  • Animal welfare agencies
  • Laboratories
  • Animal control agencies
  • Animal breeding facilities
  • Animal parks
  • Zoos
  • Organisations involved in animal research

Study Pathways

  • New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing
  • New Zealand Certificate in Rural Animal Technology (strand) – WINTEC & Otago
  • Bachelor Veterinary Technology Massey University
  • Bachelor Veterinary Science

Entry Criteria

Students will need to be 18 years of age at the start of the course in order to gain entry into the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) strand in Veterinary Nursing Assistant. This age requirement is endorsed by the New Zealand Veterinary Association and is a Health & Safety requirement and regulation for the use of radiology equipment. 

Students must also provide a Declaration Record of Criminal History when enrolling and read and sign an off campus student learning contract.

Due to the oversubscription of applications each year, applicants will also be required to attend one of the scheduled information sharing sessions which outlines all of the important entry and selection criteria. Students are also encouraged to be aware of their current health and tetanus status.

Academic Entry: For those people entering this qualification the following entry requirements apply:

  • Have completed 60 NCEA credits at Level 2, with a minimum of:
    • 12 NCEA English credits at level 2
    • 12 credits in Mathematics at Level 1, and
    • 12 credits of relevant Science at Level 1

OR equivalent tertiary study.

Applicants should also demonstrate previous experience working with animals, and an aptitude for working with the public. Suitable experience includes:

  1. Three or more days observing in a veterinary clinic or equivalent. Evidence of this can be provided by using the Attestation Form (pdf, 381kb). Please print this off and take it with you on your work experience/observation visit.

  2. Evidence of aptitude for working with the public which should include a reference from:
  • An employer where the prospective student has worked with the public (e.g. retail, volunteer, customer service)
  • A teacher attesting to social and communication skills

Selection Criteria
In most cases there will be more applicants than places available, therefore applicants will be selected on academic merit, demonstrating previous experience working with animals, and an aptitude for working with the public. Evidence of suitable experience is outlined in the above entry criteria.

Recognition of Academic Credit (RAC)
Recognition of Academic Credit (RAC) will be in accordance with the criteria specified in Policy AC-02 Assessment, Moderation and Reporting of Credit. RAC (cross-credit, credit transfer or APL) will be considered on an individual basis by the Group Leader.


International applicants for whom English is not their first language will be required to show evidence of language competency, issued within the last two years, before being eligible to enrol in any non-English programme. The level of competency required is outlined in Rule 18 and Appendix 2 of the NZQF Programme and Accreditation Rules 2013. And below under the title English Competency.

English Competency

Level 5 certificate or diploma IELTS Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5 or completed NZ Certificate in English Language L4 with the Academic Endorsement or meets a relevant English Proficiency Outcome as outlined in Rule 18 and Appendix 2 of the NZQF Programme and Accreditation Rules 2013.

For domestic applicants for whom English is not their first language, evidence of language competency may be required.