Certificate in Companion Animal Studies

A broad foundation certificate in pet care to optimise the scope of study preparing you to work with dogs, cats, birds, fish or any other pets; in pet shops, shelters, animal hospitals, with breeders, groomers or other services.

Course CodeVAG024
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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What do I need to do to get a job working with animals?

This is a commonly asked question with no set answer. There are myriad possibilities open for people wanting to work with pets and animals. These range from

  • working in pet shops or veterinary practices,
  • as wildlife carers, in a wildlife sanctuary or
  • zoo as animal attendants,
  • on horse and cattle studs as grooms and strappers, just to name a few.

These jobs are highly sought after and difficult to obtain. To gain employment you must actively market your skills and present yourself well to prospective employers.

Employers generally seek potential employees who already have substantial existing knowledge and skills - as it requires time and a large financial commitment to train new employees. If you already have these skills it will increase your competitive position in the job market. Alternatively, you can explore the possibility of setting up your own small business providing services to pet and anmial owners.

This course is a useful one to have on your resume!

When completing this course you will learn about animal husbandry techniques, develop business and management skills, and acquire other knowledge needed to start a career working with pets, or providing support services within the pet industry.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Companion Animal Studies.
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Pet Care AAG100
 Starting A Small Business VBS101
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 17 modules.
 Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101
 Animal Grooming BAG106
 Aquarium Management BEN105
 Bird Keeping (Aviculture) BAG108
 Dog Care BAG105
 Domestic Cat Care BAG107
 Horse Care I BAG102
 Ornithology BEN102
 Sales Skills VBS108
 Animal Behaviour BAG203
 Animal Diseases BAG219
 Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
 Animal Welfare BAG224
 Cat Psychology and Training BAG222
 Dog Psychology and Training BAG221
 Natural Health Care for Animals BAG218
 Animal Breeding BAG301

Note that each module in the Certificate in Companion Animal Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What is covered by some of the Core Modules?

Pet Care

This has eight lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Animal Care
  2. Cats
  3. Dogs
  4. Birds
  5. Fish
  6. Rabbits
  7. Reptiles & Amphibians
  8. Guinea Pigs, Hamsters & Mice.

Animal Behaviour

This has eight lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction: Influences and motivation.
  2. Genetics and Behaviour.
  3. Animal Perception and Behaviour.
  4. Behaviour and the Environment.
  5. Social Behaviour.
  6. Instinct and Learning.
  7. Handling Animals
  8. Behavioural Problems.

Animal Health Care

There are twelve lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Animal Health Care
  2. Common Health Problems in farm animals and pets
  3. Animal Behaviour
  4. Signs of Ill Health
  5. Veterinary Facilities
  6. Safety Procedures
  7. Administration of Animal Health
  8. Animal First Aid
  9. Preventative Health Care
  10. Routine Health Treatments
  11. Health Problems in Domestic Pets
  12. Rehabilitation Care

Starting A Small Business

This covers all of the basics of running a business, and provides valuable and necessary skills for anyone involved in a Pet or companion animal business. It involves twelve lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Small Business Types of business and communication, types of language, office equipment.
  2. The Business World Consultancy services, law and business, the landscape industry, business letters, communication systems.
  3. Your alternatives - different types of ventures Buying and starting a business.
  4. Marketing What is involved in marketing, advertising, selling, communication.
  5. Planning Organising and planning to ensure the success of the business.
  6. Basic Bookkeeping Financial statements, balance sheet, profit and loss statement,insurance.
  7. Sales Methods Selling, sales method, telephone canvassing.
  8. Budgeting Assets and liabilities.
  9. Developing a 12 month business plan Protection, planning and production.
  10. Implementing a business plan Communication with employees, planning the development of the business.
  11. Reviewing progress in a new business Research, evaluate and decide on business plan updates.
  12. Improving profitability Increase profit and reduce expenditure




The range of employment opportunities for people in animal and pet industries is huge; and a course like this can be an excellent move toward working in jobs such as the following:

  • Veterinary Support Staff- veterinary technician, animal lab technician, veterinary assistant, animal hospital clerk
  • Pet Therapist, Groomer
  • Pet Shop owner, staff
  • Animal Trainer, Groomer, Breeder
  • Animal Welfare Officer, Animal Shelter staff
  • Zoo or Wildlife Park staff

To Get the Job: It's Important to Stand Out in the Crowd

There are always lots of people who would love to work with animals; but applying for a job can be competitive; and to be selected above others, you need to stand out. Here are some ways you can stand out and give yourself that competitive edge:

  • Volunteers stand out - If you have worked anywhere either animals as a volunteer (eg. zoos, wildlife shelters, community farms), you will be demonstrating that your passion for this work goes beyond just earning an income; and that you probably have some experience and knowledge through that volunteering, which is different to other applicants
  • Applicants who have studied something a little different will stand out -If most other applicants have done a certificate that is a "national qualification" they will all look pretty much the same as each other....this course, with electives, allows each graduate an opportunity to make themselves look to have a slightly different set of skills to other applicants -hence you will stand out! 
  • Experience, communication skills, industry networking, problem solving skill are things that employers often look for when interviewing staff; and these are things which this course tries to develop (To get this advantage you need to be doing an experiential based course rather than a competency based training course -which this is)
Suggested Reading
Supplementary texts written by our tutors
Caring for Dogs  -click for details
 Animal Health  -click for details
  Getting Work with Animals -click for details


Still not quite what you are looking for?

Then check out these options...

The Certificate in Animal Husbandry  or  the Certificate in Animal Health are similar courses with a slightly different subject mix.

If you are still unsure, please feel free to make use of our free course counselling facility to ask our academic staff questions about the various courses that interest you.


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Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop
Alison Pearce

University Lecturer, Quality Assurance Manager, Writer and Research Technician. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has m
Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand
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