Specialist Award in Animal Care

Become a Professional Animal Carer through Distance Learning. If you already know your discipline and industry, you have a head start on being a successful animal care specialist. This course is designed to "top up" the skills you already have.

Course CodeVAG028
Fee CodePA
Duration (approx)500 hours
QualificationSpecialist Award

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Become a Professional Animal Carer

If you already know your discipline and industry, you have a head start on being a successful animal care specialist. This course is designed to "top up" the skills you already have; giving you expanded skills you can offer employers or clients; and new ways of applying the knowledge you already have in an industry you already know.

Add training or health concepts and practical skills to your existing skills, to broaden business opportunities or attractiveness to employers. You don't need to commit to a degree to be an Animal Care Professional Many Animal Care professionals are in fact not qualified at all Success in Animal Care comes by having up to date, useable skills; good networking (contacts with industry) and being sensitive to the needs of owners and their pets.

What is a Specialist Award? a type of “specialist” certificate; a way of topping up an existing qualification with professional training that gives your employment prospects a quantum leap forward; designed to provide a qualification to reflect “knowledge or skills” in a specialised area.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Specialist Award in Animal Care .
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Animal Grooming BAG106
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 20 modules.
 Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Bird Keeping (Aviculture) BAG108
 Dog Care BAG105
 Horse Care I BAG102
 Pet Care AAG100
 Animal Behaviour BAG203
 Animal Diseases BAG219
 Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
 Animal Health (Animal Husbandry II) BAG201
 Animal Welfare BAG224
 Cat Psychology and Training BAG222
 Dog Psychology and Training BAG221
 Goat Production BAG223
 Horse Care II BAG204
 Natural Health Care for Animals BAG218
 Poultry BAG208
 Sheep BAG210
 Animal Breeding BAG301
 Horse Care III BAG302

Note that each module in the Specialist Award in Animal Care is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

This is the final requirement that you must satisfy before receiving your award.

There are two options available to you to satisfy this requirement:

Alternative 1.

If you work in Animal Care; you may submit a reference from your employer (or a reputable colleague or client), in an effort to satisfy this industry (ie. workplace project) requirement; on the basis of RPL (ie. recognition for prior learning), achieved through your current and past work experience.

The reference must indicate that you have skills and an awareness of your industry, which is sufficient for you to work in a position of responsibility.

Alternative 2.

If you do not work in the relevant industry, you need to undertake a project as follows.

Example Procedure for a Workplace Project

This project is a major part of the course involving the number of hours relevant to the course (see above). Although the course does not contain mandatory work requirements, work experience is seen as highly desirable.

This project is based on applications in the work place and specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study.

Students will design this project in consultation with a tutor to involve industry based activities in the area of specialized study which they select to follow in the course. The project outcomes may take the form of a written report, folio, visuals or a mixture of forms. Participants with relevant, current or past work experience will be given exemption from this project if they can provide suitable references from employers that show they have already fulfilled the requirements of this project.

The 200 hours may be split into two projects each of 100 hours. Alternatively, the student may wish to do one large project with a duration of 200 hours.

Students will be assessed on how well they achieve the goals and outcomes they originally set as part of their negotiations with their tutor. During each 100 hours of the project, the students will present three short progress reports. These progress reports will be taken into account when evaluating the final submission. The tutor must be satisfied that the work submitted is original.

If the student wishes to do one large 200 hour report, then only three progressive reports will be needed (however the length of each report will be longer).


Working as a Dog Groomer

Grooming is an important part of dog care and, in some cases, it may become part of a daily task. If you love animals and care for their appearance, comfort and health, then here’s the job for you.
As a Dog Groomer, you will care for both, the hygiene and cleaniness of a dog, as well as earning a living from doing what you love.

Being a Dog Groomer can be quite rewarding as you are in constant contact with the dog creating, therefore, a closer bond as you are handling and caring for the dogs best needs. You will be gratified by knowing the dog is clean and by decreasing its chances from various health problems such as thrush, scratches, infestation, parasites on the skin, and other skin problems, as well as a general health check making sure its free from any cuts, heat, swelling, lameness or temperament changes which, in turn, can be an indication of illness.

As a Dog Groomer you will be in charge of keeping the dog’s coat, nails, skin and health in optimal conditions to satisfy the owner’s desires, as well as giving the owner advice on the dogs general care and diet for maintaining its health.

As a dog groomer, you may work in any organisation that has direct relation to any type of dog such as animal welfare centres, dog handlers, pet stores, kennels, or exhibition dogs. There are also shops that exclusively offer dog grooming services, as well as mobile dog grooming businesses.

Many dog groomers run their own businesses. They may own a franchise business, or they may start their own business (or franchise of businesses).

Risks and Challenges
It may be difficult to gain employment as a dog groomer, and starting your own business has all the challenges of a small business. However, once you have found a job, or become established as a dog groomer your work can be very rewarding.

Not all dogs enjoy being groomed, so you will have the risk of dealing with such animals. This includes the risk of being bitten or scratched.

You will be dealing with a lot of different dogs, so are likely to be exposed to a variety of fleas and parasites so will need to be careful with hygiene.

How to Become a Dog Groomer
To become a dog groomer it is highly necessary to be able to handle dogs firmly but in a very gentle way. You must know how to read dogs well enough to be capable of controlling their fears, calm them down and react assertively to their uneasy and spontaneous reactions. Love for the animal, patience and attention to detail is greatly required.

If you are a dog groomer for exhibition purposes, you will need to know how different breeds should look. It will also be essential to discuss with the owner about the specific type of grooming they would like the dog to have for the show, as well as specific handling requirements.

There are no specific qualifications you need to become a dog groomer, however you will need to have a sound knowledge about dogs. You may benefit from doing training in this area. If you are running your own business you may also benefit from doing a small business course. Most people will become a dog groomer through having a strong interest and love for dogs, then gaining work experience working for someone else.



Most people choose this course to fill in gaps in their learning. It allows them a great deal of choice in what they actually study.

If you already have knowledge and experience with animal care; but are aware of specific areas where your knowledge and skill is lacking - this course may be the best decision you ever make.

One student may focus more than two thirds of their studies on cats if they really want, while another may focus two thirds on dogs. For another, there may be little focus on either cats or dogs, and instead their focus may be on birds or on something else.
Some students might focus on animal behaviour rather than disease, while others may study disease with little attention paid to behaviour.

This course offers such variations in specialisation; giving you an opportunity to become a stronger "expert" in one facet of pet care, rather than another. In doing so, you can differentiate your skills set, and such a differentiation is a distinct advantage in business or employment.

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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
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
Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS students. She has worked as a University Lecturer, has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniqu
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