New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Rural Animal Technician)

  • Online with a block course
  • A one-year, part-time, online option is also available for those with existing knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area. Find out more >
One year full-time or two years part-time

Study online with a four-day block course in Dunedin or Wairarapa and 240 hours of compulsory work experience

Now for our work-based learning option if you have prior knowledge and experience. Applications have now closed for our 2022 online intake. Please register your interest for 2023 by emailing
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Distance
    14 February 2022
    18 July 2022 - 22 July 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
    11 April 2022 - 22 April 2022
    1 August 2022 - 12 August 2022
  • Distance
    14 February 2022
    18 July 2022 - 22 July 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
    11 April 2022 - 22 April 2022
    1 August 2022 - 12 August 2022
  • Distance
    31 January 2022
    18 July 2022 - 22 July 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
    11 April 2022 - 22 April 2022
    1 August 2022 - 12 August 2022


There are some exciting changes coming to our Animal Healthcare and Veterinary Nursing programmes in 2023. Updated programme information will be added as soon as possible.

To chat about the best options for you or for further information, please email 

Enjoy working on the farm and in a rural veterinary practice environment?

This programme gives you the skills to be a veterinary technician working with large animals. You’d mainly work with dairy cattle but also with sheep, horses, deer and lifestyle animals. 

You’ll gain the technical skills you need to independently carry out a number of tasks in the rural veterinary practice and become skilled at handling a range of rural animal species. 

You will learn how to:

  • take care of animal patients with conditions such as lameness and mastitis,
  • take and process diagnostics samples,
  • manage disease and parasite prevention strategies, and
  • assist with reproduction medicine including metri-checking, disbudding and rearing. 

In addition, you’ll develop you communication skills, understand the importance of professionalism and team fit, be able to manage client education and understand rural veterinary practice management.

Benefit from first-rate block course facilities and a range of rural veterinary equipment, including a well-resourced training laboratory, simulation models and farm visits where animal handling takes place.

Online, flexible delivery allows you to fit your study around other commitments and make use of our industry connections.

Career opportunities 

As a rural animal technician, your skills will be in high demand throughout New Zealand in rural and mixed animal practices to work alongside veterinarians in our primary agricultural produce industry ensuring optimal animal health and welfare of our production animal species. There are also opportunities to work alongside lifestyle block owners to help them maintain optimal stock health and welfare. 

Useful links 
Entry requirements

Academic entry requirements

  • 60 credits at NCEA Level 2, with a minimum of:
    • 12 credits in English at Level 2, and 
    • 12 credits in Maths at Level 1, and 
    • 12 credits in Science at Level 1 
    • OR equivalent
    • OR New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Companion Animals) (Level 3) or the National Certificate in Animal Care (Level 2) or equivalent
    • OR evidence of meeting Step 5 Literacy and Numeracy for Adults, Assessment Tool. 
  • For those 20 and over - you will have an interview to figure out the best pathway for you to maximise your success.

Other requirements

You must be able to demonstrate previous experience of working with animals and an aptitude for work with the public and must provide:

  1. Evidence of at least three or more days observing the role veterinarians and veterinary nurses undertake in a rural animal veterinary clinic.**
    Please note: If you are struggling with this requirement, please email so we can have a chat with you.
  2. Evidence/reference demonstrating an aptitude for working with the public for instance from an employer, teacher, manager or a volunteer organisation. Download the Referee report here.**
  3. Declaration of Health and Tetanus Status.**
  4. Convictions Declaration – enrolment will be contingent on the status of this history report. 

    You will need to supply a Convictions Declaration (via the Ministry of Justice), which is 6 months old or less, before the start date of your programme if you are a NEW student to the School of Veterinary Nursing. 

    If you have studied with us in the last calendar year, have previously supplied us with a convictions declaration and are returning to the School of Veterinary Nursing for further study, you will only need to make a declaration (click here) stating your history hasn’t changed since the previous report.

  5. Evidence of veterinary clinic to support practical components of the programme.

Please note: Whilst you don't need to provide us with evidence of your Covid-19 vaccination status to study this programme, please be aware that some placement providers may ask you for this.

You can enter information and upload documents directly into the application form. You may wish to prepare some of the required documentation beforehand. To begin your application, click the Apply button at the top of this page.

**Once your application has been received, if successful you will be sent a Conditional Offer into the programme. In this offer there will be a link provided to some templates to enable you to provide evidence of your three day observation and work placement.

Please note: You must also have access to a computer, camera, video and the internet to be able to study this programme. 

English Language requirements

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes

Selection procedure

All applicants are advised within ten working days of receipt of their application whether they have been accepted. 

Skills required for working in this area
  • A genuine interest in rural animal species
  • Good communication and computer skills
  • The ability to handle stressful emergency situations
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • To be sensible and highly motivated. 
Want your existing skills recognised?

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area (5-7 years), you could gain this qualification through our Assessment of Prior Learning Pathway (APL). This option enables you to study part-time online, to evaluate your veterinary nursing career and to present a portfolio of evidence to show how you meet the requirements of the qualification.

Find out more >

You will study

You will study one year full-time or two years part-time. 

This programme will be divided into eight, 15-credit courses. The first course will be a pre-requisite for the remaining courses (any other prerequisites to be advised). 

Your work placements 

During your study you will complete 240 hours of work placement – 40 hours on a farm and 200 hours in a Rural Animal Veterinary Clinic. You will need to arrange your own work placements. 

You will be given full training to minimise all programme-specific risks. Examples of risks associated with this programme are: lifting, animal bites and scratches, zoonotic diseases, computers, radiation from x-rays, anaesthetic gases, chemicals and drugs, UV radiation, sharp instruments, electricity, fire, gas cylinders and mercury thermometers.

You will be required to advise us of your tetanus injection status if you have not been previously enrolled with us, to ensure you are safe to handle any animals in this programme. 

Studying online

We're a leader in the provision of online education. You'll learn via online facilitated teaching sessions and discussion forums, as well as having access to online course resources and activities (written, audio and video). 

Help is always on hand through our extensive support systems which include:

  • One-on-one tutor support 
  • IT support. 
Your workload

All study is structured but self-directed and, in a typical week you should aim for around 35-40 hours of study as a full time student, or 15-20 hours as a part time student, including work experience. Assessment due dates are spread throughout the year and a timetable for the year is provided at the start of the programme. You have a choice of two block course venues either in Dunedin or in the Wairarapa - the number and attendance requirements are to be advised. Some of the block course sessions require travel to farms/veterinary clinics at a distance away from the Otago Polytechnic campus.  

Further study options 

Pursue further study and increase your career options with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology Veterinary Nursing Assistant and/or the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. Adding companion animal training in the form for veterinary nursing assistant or veterinary nursing offers opportunities to be versatile in mixed animal practice, working with a wider range of species. This qualification also provides the perfect stepping stone into more advanced training in rural animal procedures such as artificial insemination and TB testing. 

Additional costs
  • Required texts - $200 (approx.)
  • Photocopy and printing costs for personal work and assessments
  • Travel, accommodation and food costs associated with attendance at block courses and work placement
  • Access to a video camera/phone that can record video footage.

If you are not already employed in a suitable veterinary practice or you have not previously studied with us, you may need to purchase the following:

  • Stethoscope - $20
  • Closed-in shoes - $100 (approx.)
  • Shirt - $50
  • Overalls - $80
  • Name badge - $15. 
Student loans and allowances
Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw from your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 
Apply Now