Course overview

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Awarded by City & Guilds, this online course (distance learning), is an ideal way to gain an internationally recognised animal care qualification without attending College. If you are looking for the flexibility of studying a qualification alongside your existing commitments, for either personal interest or because you dream of working with animals, then this course could be for you!

During the programme you will learn about the health, welfare and care of a variety of small animal species. You will also undertake at least 150 hours of work experience in an animal related environment; this will allow you to put into practice the skills and knowledge you will be learning throughout the programme.

On completion of the course you will be able to use your new found knowledge to ensure that animals in your care are happy, healthy and cared for in an environment that allows them to thrive.

Please note: You should either be employed, or have a voluntary work placement arranged, in a suitable animal care environment (min 4 weeks) before applying as you will need to complete a total of 150 hours of practical work (min 4 hours per week) in order to achieve the qualification.

Key Facts

  • Attendance: You will not be required to attend college. Your course materials will be supplied via our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and you will be allocated a distance learning tutor who will support you through the course.
  • Duration: 12 months.
  • Start date: You can start this programme at any time.
  • Location: This online programme can be studied anywhere in the UK or overseas. Previous students who have studied online with us have come from as far away as Bermuda, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Dubai!
Course content

You will study the following units:

Unit 201 – Maintain animal health and welfare
On completion of this unit, you will be able to maintain and promote the health and welfare of a range of animals. You will be able to identify any signs of ill health or impending problems and know how to support and monitor an animals’ recovery.

Unit 202 – Undertake practical animal feeding
During this unit you will learn how to recognise, prepare and select appropriate feeding equipment and foodstuffs needed to keep animals at their optimum nutritional state, including the feeding requirements of animals during different life stages.

Unit 203 – Maintain animal accommodation
This unit looks at the design, construction and maintenance of animal accommodation. On completion you will know how to source accommodation which meets the welfare and safety needs of a range of species, and understand the cleaning and preparation requirements for a variety of animal housing.

Unit 204 – Undertake work related experience
As part of the qualification you will be required to undertake at least 150 hours of work experience in the animal industry; this could be gained through voluntary work or paid employment. This practical experience will increase your confidence and give you the opportunity to apply your new knowledge and skills in the working environment.

Unit 205 – Understand the principles of animal biology
During this unit you will gain an understanding of how the animal body works. You will look at the structure and function of cells and the different body systems. You will also learn how animals are grouped and named and look at the principles of reproduction and heredity.

Unit 206 – Principles and practices of animal behaviour and handling
You will look at the principles of animal behaviour and handling, and how these can be applied in practise. You will be able to identify normal and abnormal behaviour and learn the skills and knowledge to approach animals based on their displayed behaviour to minimise risk and stress.

Unit 210 – Introduction to animal breeds and grooming
At the end of this unit you will gain an understanding of the concepts of animal evolution and domestication, and be able to identify commonly kept breeds of dogs, cats and other pet species. You will also learn how and why we carry out practical small animal grooming.


You will complete both assignments and practical assessments. Assignments will be submitted via our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Your practical assessments will be carried out by an allocated mentor in the organisation where you undertake your work experience.

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic entry requirements. However you should have a sound level of numeracy, literacy and ICT skills, have a passion for animals and be up-to-date with your tetanus vaccination.

You should either be employed, or have a voluntary work placement arranged, in a suitable animal care environment (min 4 weeks) before applying as you will need to complete a total of 150 hours of practical work (min 4 hours per week) in order to achieve the qualification. This could be in, for example, a rescue centre, pet shop which has animals for sale or a boarding kennels/cattery*. Students will need access to at least three animal species as part of their practical assessment in order to achieve the award; this must include companion dogs or cats and either small animals (rabbits or rodents) or exotics or large mammals (goats, camelids, donkeys, pigs or other available large mammals).

* Please note that work placements in wildlife hospitals or rescue centres dealing solely with wild animals are not advisable.

If you are studying this programme overseas, please be aware that the programme is delivered in English and therefore you must be competent in reading and writing English language.

Course fees

Course fees can either be paid in full before the beginning of the course, or via our ‘Pay As You Learn’ monthly payment scheme

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

Course Fees

Full Fee Pay As You Learn
£1,308 £109 per month

Awarding Body Fees*

City & Guilds fees: £130.40

* Awarding Body Fees are payable by all students or employers and recharged at cost and may be subject to change.

Sources of financial help can be found on our student finance page. Before making any financial decision it is recommended that you seek advice from an independent source, for example the Money Advice Service.

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 this online course, you will receive a City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care certificate; demonstrating to employers and clients your underpinning knowledge and skills. This internationally recognised qualification will give you the confidence to apply for animal care jobs. Examples of the types of jobs in animal care you may be considering applying for can be found below.

You may also look at progressing onto a higher level animal care course to continue your learning or undertake one of our level 3 animal care apprenticeships if you are employed in an environment where you work with animals.

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


This online course is new, we hope to have some testimonials soon…