Animal Care Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Animal Care?

Animal Care refers to the health, comfort, nourishment, and safety of an animal and ensuring animals are not suffering from pain, fear, or distress. Animal Care can also refer to the handling and grooming of animals and the study of animal behaviour.

Through the study of Animal Care, students will learn the processes and practices around disease prevention, appropriate shelter, nutrition, safe animal husbandry, grooming, safety, humane handling, and humane slaughter.

What 3rd Level Courses Are Available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas…

  • Animal Care and Business – the study of the business of animal care
  • Animal Care Career and Management – the study of making a career in looking after and helping animals
  • Animal Physical Therapy – the study of rehabilitative care for animals
  • Animal Psychology – the study of understanding animal behaviour
  • Veterinary Support Assistant – the study of veterinary support
  • Animal Care and Grooming – the study of practical and theoretical animal care and grooming
  • Zoology – the study of the science of animals through their anatomy, physiology, behaviour, habitats, and health

Studying Animal Care In College

Some entry-level animal jobs require a college degree. You may opt to study a specific program or choose a broader subject that is useful to several career paths. Most 3rd Level Courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to work in a variety of areas within the Animal Health Care sector.

Animal Care courses usually take a year of full-time study to complete and combine several assessment techniques throughout the course. Assessments involve student records, portfolios, and collections of work, assignments, exams, and projects. Most of these study options are available on a full- and part-time basis.

Animal Care courses require both lectures and practical work, often in the form of work experiences. Animal care is a hands-on career path in many instances and typically as the course progresses students will spend less time on theory work and more time doing practical work out in their fields of interest.

Working alongside qualified Animal Care professionals will also allow students a chance to see the real-world aspects of the careers and narrow down their field of study to concentrate on specific career skills.

Career Options

There are various options when it comes to careers in Animal. It is important to find the course that is best suited to your needs depending on your interests and skills.

Animal Care careers can range from fields that take an interest in Animal Anatomy and Physiology to Nutrition and Animal Handling. When deciding which course to take it is best to think about what type of work you would most like to do and then work backward from that goal – are you interested in the business side of working with animals? Then you may be more interested in business-related courses or health & safety courses. Would you like to be more hands-on in helping injured or scared animals? Then a short course in veterinary assistance or animal psychology may be a good place to start.

Whichever career path you choose within Animal Care it is important to remember that working with animals can be a very emotional field with hard decisions to be made on behalf of the animals, so it is best to fully research and take the time to speak to professionals within the industry you are considering. Speaking to professionals with years of experience will often bring up factors you may not have considered and could even lead to an entirely new career option that you were not aware of.

Some Animal Care careers will also involve closely working with not only animals but also humans, so customer care courses or human resources elements may also be necessary and should be considered.

Related Jobs Include:

  • Veterinary Surgeon
  • Veterinary Assistant
  • Veterinary Nurse
  • Zookeeper
  • Zoologist
  • Farmer
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animal Charity Worker
  • ISPCA Inspector
  • Marine Biologist
  • Police Dog Handler
  • Army Dog Handler
  • Animal Care Assistant
  • Groomer
  • Kennel Attendant
  • Trainer

Further Study

While many Animal Care careers do not require advanced degrees and, you may be interested in furthering your field of study by going on to further postgraduate study.

An undergraduate degree is often the first step to go on to further postgraduate study involving specialization in particular fields and areas of Animal Care such as Veterinary Sciences that involve a 5-year degree at University.

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What are the entry requirements to study Animal Care?

Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It is always best to check with the individual higher education institution for the specific course requirements. This information is available on their websites.

Are there any qualities or skills you need to study Animal Care?

A genuine concern and real enthusiasm for the welfare of animals is essential, together with a willingness to learn about general animal care. Anyone working with animals should have empathy for both animals and people and have excellent communication and observation skills. You should be able to handle animals firmly but gently and be confident working with a range of different animals. You will often need to be prepared to work outdoors in all weather and seasons.

Where Can I Study Animal Care?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • A dog’s sense of smell is 10 000 to 100 000 times stronger than humans, but they only have one-sixth of the number of taste buds that humans have.
  • Some species of penguin “propose” to their mate by giving them a pebble.
  • Honeybees can flap their wings 200 times per second.
  • Cows can sleep standing up.


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Mariza Halliday

Palliative Care
Animal Science


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