Animal Care Attendant Kaitiaki Kararehe

Animal care attendants care for, and clean up after animals in places like kennels, pet shops and animal shelters.

Animal care attendants may do some or all of the following:

  • clean and maintain animal enclosures
  • feed, bathe, groom, and exercise animals, and check their behaviour and health
  • treat animals for minor injuries and illnesses under veterinary supervision
  • help with animal training and research
  • keep records and carry out office work.

Depending where they work, animal care attendants may also:

  • serve customers
  • supervise volunteers
  • collect payments
  • keep accounts and stock records.

Physical Requirements

Animal care attendants need to have a good level of fitness, as they may need to do a lot of walking.

They must also be strong, as they need to lift heavy animals and equipment.  

Useful Experience

Useful experience for animal care attendants includes paid or volunteer work with animals.

Personal Qualities

Animal care attendants need to:

  • care about animals and be confident working with them
  • be excellent communicators, as they may have to deal with people in stressful situations, and handle conflict
  • be calm and reliable
  • be quick-thinking and able to follow instructions
  • be able to work well alone and in a team.


Animal care attendants need to have:

  • skill in handling and training animals
  • knowledge of animal diseases and care
  • an understanding of the Animal Welfare Act.


Animal care attendants:

  • may work regular business hours, or part time, or on contract. They may work shifts, including nights, weekends and public holidays
  • work in catteries, kennels, animal shelters, and other places that house animals
  • work in conditions that can be dirty and smelly, with stressed or diseased animals, and outside in all weather conditions
  • may travel locally to pick up or deliver animals.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but science subjects and English are useful.

Animal Care Attendants can earn around $23 per hour.

Pay for animal care attendants varies depending on their qualifications, experience, and how many hours they work. Nearly half of animal care attendants work part time.

  • Animal care attendants usually earn the minimum wage.
  • Senior animal care attendants who work as managers usually earn $25 to $26 an hour.

Source: Wellington Institute of Technology, 2019; and research, 2019.

Animal care attendants may progress to set up their own business, such as a dog-walking service or animal day care, or move into management.

With further training, animal care attendants may progress to become veterinary nurses or zookeepers.

Animal care attendants may specialise in caring for specific animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits or fish.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become an animal care attendant as you gain skills on the job.

However, some employers prefer you to have:

  • a driver licence
  • a qualification in animal care and welfare such as a New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) with strands in Companion Animals, Equine, and Rural Animals. This qualification will be offered from 2023.
Animal Care Attendant