Course Overview

New Animal Care and Welfare Assistant: Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard
Download the information booklet on this new programme

Quick Facts

  • Typical duration: 12-14 months plus an additional 3 months for independent assessment. (6 hours per week must be spent undertaking off the job training)
  • England: Within a 90 minute radius of Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire), North London or Leeds (West Yorkshire). If you are located outside of this area, please contact us, as we may still be able to meet your training needs.
  • Work-based learning: No college attendance required, however you will be required to attend one afternoon of online lectures per week (Thursdays).
  • Non-apprenticeship option: The City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Work-based Animal Care is available for those not eligible to undertake an apprenticeship

Get qualified and do a job you love

Many people dream of working with animals from an early age, which makes entry into animal related jobs very competitive. Working with animals often involves low pay, long hours and can be physically demanding; but the rewards that come from the love of the job and making a difference to the lives of animals, day in day out, make the work extremely worthwhile.

‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’ Confucius

As an animal care apprentice, you will be employed in an animal care environment gaining vital practical skills and experience, and earning a wage alongside studying your formal apprenticeship qualification. Typical animal care settings that apprentices work in include kennels and catteries, doggy day care facilities, animal welfare centres, farm parks and pet shops.

Your apprenticeship materials will be delivered online via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); as such you can apply to start at any time of the year. You will be allocated a Work-based Learning Assessor who will support you through your qualification.

There are different pathways you can undertake and these will be discussed with you at interview to make sure you undertake the apprenticeship pathway that best suits your job role and interests.

Benefits to employers

  • Grow your business: Affordable way to expand and develop your business
  • Cost effective: Provide valuable opportunities whilst minimising recruitment and training costs
  • Enhanced reputation: Provide client reassurance by investing in trained staff
  • Increased productivity: Maximise staff efficiency though the development of knowledge and skills

The College of Animal Welfare has a well-earned reputation for excellence; delivering quality training and education and employer support. Your apprentice will benefit from:

  • Tuition, support and assessment provided in the workplace, online and via email and telephone contact
  • Support and guidance from an allocated, qualified Work-based Learning Assessor
  • Access to our unique Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and extensive eLibrary resources
Course Content

Core knowledge, skills and behaviours

You will gain the essential knowledge, skills and behaviours needed of an Animal Care and Welfare Assistant to ensure you maintain safe working practices and take responsibility for yourself, others and the animals in your care.

You will gain a comprehensive understanding of wide range of knowledge areas, including:

  • UK and EU Animal related legislation
  • Signs that indicate potential problems with animals’ health and welfare and the actions that should be taken
  • The types of basic medication, routes of administering medication, safe handling and disposal of medication
  • Accommodation and environment requirements that are suitable and safe for animals
  • The behaviours of the animal, applicable to the species and how it impacts its care and welfare such as stress/distress/pain/fear/frustration
  • How the animal you are working with learns and the basic principles of re-enforcement techniques
  • Different skin and coat care requirements of animals in their care
  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Basic reproduction and obstetrics and reproductive behaviour, including neutering
  • The importance of the human and animal bond
  • The changing needs of animals’ dependent on their life stage

You will gain the skills to be able to:

  • work effectively in a safe and healthy working environment following current/relevant health and safety legislation and work place policies
  • maintain hygiene, bio security procedures and infection controls when working with animals including quarantine and isolation
  • approach/handle/restrain/move/recapture animals as part of routine husbandry appropriate for the species and individual
  • exercise/socialise animals and provide appropriate enrichment relevant to their specific needs
  • provide food and water to animals and monitor the intake
  • identify and describe animals using appropriate methods to the species involved (e.g. scanning for microchips)
  • maintain, update and reference correct records in accordance with current legislation
  • deliver customer experience (internal and external), where applicable, in line with workplace policies and procedures
  • respond to animal first aid, urgent, ongoing and preventive care requirements as appropriate

You will look at safe working, work ethic, responsibility, team work, communication and professionalism.


In addition to the core knowledge, skills and behaviours you will undertake further learning relevant to your job role and interests. There are a number of pathways you can choose at The College of Animal Welfare, these are:

Animal Interaction & Handling

Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Dog Day Care Assistants, Animal Welfare Assistant and Farm Park Assistants. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will be based around interaction/handling activities; making sure the correct methods are used to ensure the animal’s physical and emotional welfare are promoted at all times.


Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Animal Welfare Assistants, Zoo Keeper Assistants and those working in animal rescue centres. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will be based around the intake, assessment, matching and rehoming of animals.

Movement and Transportation

Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Animal Collection Officers, Animal Ambulance Drivers and Wildlife Rehabilitation Assistants. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will be based around the movement and transport of animals, ensuring legal requirements are followed and the animal’s welfare is maintained at all times.


Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Animal Welfare Assistants working in breeding centres. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will focus on the whole breeding process; from mating and parturition, to caring for neonates and the physical and social development of the young.

Working Dog Handler

Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Animal Handlers, Security Dog Handlers and Service Dog Handlers. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will be based around ensuring the dog team operate within the legal and ethical framework associated with their employment.

Operational/Reception Duties

Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Pet Retail Shop Assistants, Kennel/Cattery Assistants and Animal Day Care Assistants. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will be based around customer service, processing of sales, management of stock and record keeping.

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Typical job roles of those undertaking this apprenticeship include Wildlife Rehabilitation Assistants, Zoo Keeper Assistants and Farm Park Assistants. Additional skills and knowledge that you will learn will be based around the collection, movement, care, release and monitoring of health and casualty wild animals.

Veterinary Care Support

To find out more regarding this pathway please see our dedicated Veterinary Care Support Apprenticeship section.


Functional Skills
You will undertake Functional Skills Level 1 and Level 2 in English and Maths unless exempt.

During your apprenticeship you will compile a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Once you have completed your portfolio, Functional Skills and a minimum of 12 months of training, you will be able to undertake the End Point Assessment.

End Point Assessment (EPA)
The EPA consists of:

  1. Practical Assessment: An observation of the apprentice by an independent assessor completing two practical tasks.
  2. Professional Discussion: A structured discussion between the apprentice and the independent assessor, made up of a portfolio review and 10 competency-based questions to establish an applied level of knowledge, skills and behaviour.

Your performance in the EPA will determine the apprenticeship grade of fail, pass or distinction.

Entry Requirements

A Level 2 Diploma in Work-based Animal Care is also available for those not eligible for an apprenticeship

There are no formal academic entry requirements. However, you will need to be living and working in England in a suitable animal care environment (e.g. a boarding kennels, cattery, animal charity, doggy day care facility) within a 90 minute radius of our Huntingdon, North London or Leeds centres, earning at least the National Minimum Wage for Apprentices. To complete this apprenticeship within 12-18 months you will need to be working for a minimum of 30 hours per week, if you are working less than 30 hours a week the length of your apprenticeship will be extended depending on your working hours.

If you have a level  2 (or above) qualification you are still able to undertake this apprenticeship if your current qualification is in an unrelated subject. If your existing qualification is in a similar subject you may not be able to undertake this apprenticeship.

International qualifications

Students with foreign qualifications are required to have their certificates translated using a UK ENIC Statement to confirm if they have previously achieved Level 2 English and Level 2 maths for their apprenticeship. If a student has not previously achieved this, they will need to complete Functional Skills English and/or maths as part of their apprenticeship. More information about how to apply, how it works and prices can be found on the UK ENIC’s website here.

Course Fees

Apprenticeship fees are payable by the employer. Prior to starting the course an invoice will be issued for the total course fee.

If you have not achieved your qualification by the planned end date detailed in your individual learning plan, your employer will be able to pay monthly direct debit payments to allow you to continue to receive support and access to your course until certification of your award.

Fees as of 1 April 2019:

Course fees for small employers/Non-Levy Payers (with an annual payroll bill of less than £3 million)

Non-levy paying employers in England are required to contribute 5% (£250 in one payment) towards the cost of the apprenticeship provided they use their digital account to process the claim for 95% funding available.

Course fees for large employers/Levy Payers (with an annual payroll bill of more than £3 million)

Levy payers in England will pay the full apprenticeship amount of £5,000 using their digital account.

These are current figures and may be subject to change. The differences in course fees reflect the level of funding that is available as a result of government policies and priorities. These may be as a result of age, employment status, previous education achievements, or location for example, and are outside the control of The College of Animal Welfare.

What Next?

On completion of your apprenticeship you will have gained the knowledge, skills, behaviours and practical experience needed to excel in an Animal Care and Welfare Assistant role. During this time, your desire to learn and increase your knowledge further may lead you to wondering what you should do next!

If you are looking to study to the next level you may consider undertaking the Level 3 Diploma in Work-based Animal Care. To do so you would need to be working in a supervisory or managerial position, however, if you are not currently working in such a role but are aspiring to do so, it may still be possible to undertake the advanced apprenticeship; this will be assessed on an individual basis and is something your assessor will discuss with you as you approach the end of your level 2 apprenticeship.

CAW Connect

After you complete your studies with The College of Animal Welfare, you will be invited to join our alumni association, CAW Connect. CAW Connect is a social networking website and education hub which gives you the opportunity to connect with other alumni, enjoy industry discounts, make use of exclusive careers advice and resources, find new job opportunities and keep up-to-date with the latest industry news. Find out more about CAW Connect