Course Description

The certificate will give you key knowledge for the animal industry while coaching you in the basics in building and running your own small business.

The ACM40310 Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services can be done online with Open Colleges via the Open Space learning portal where you can meet and connect with others doing this course. You can really tailor this course to your own interests, focusing on a range of electives from companion animals, native animals, dogs, cats, aquascapes or aviaries. Whatever you’re interested in, you can focus on – it’s that flexible!

With this course you will also complete Structured Workplace Learning which will give you real hands-on experience under the guidance of someone who is working in the industry. You’ll make contacts, learn tips, tricks and skills and work with real animals in a practical setting. You will be taught how to handle animals patiently, gently and confidently, so you are ready to hire, or ready to work in your own Animal Care business.

This course involves work placement that currently needs to be undertaken in Australia. More information available in our FAQs

Potential career outcomes

  • Animal Shelter Supervisor/ Manager
  • Boarding Kennel/Cattery Manager
  • Pet Shop Manager
Course number E1098
Qualification name ACM40310 Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services
Course duration Maximum 24 months
Delivery Method Online with Work Placement
Recognition Nationally Recognised Nationally Recognised Training
Assessments Case studies, Projects, Quizzes, Scenario-based questions, Short-answer questions, Workplace assessments, Written reports
Awarded by
  • Open Colleges (Provider number: 90796)


  • School Certificate or equivalent OR
  • Relevant qualifications (such as ACM30110 Certificate III in Animal Studies or ACM30410 Certificate III in Companion Animal Services) OR
  • Relevant vocational experience.

Minimum age

You will need to be at least 16 years old. If you are under 18 your enrolment form will need to be signed by a parent or guardian.


This course involves reading and undertaking a range of written assessments, as well as engaging in online forums and discussions. Furthermore, the delivery mode relies on the extensive use of written communication. As such, entry to the course requires the successful completion of English to Year 10 level.

If you haven't successfully completed English at Year 10 level, you can demonstrate equivalency through one of the following:

  • Successful completion of a Nationally Recognised Training qualification at Certificate II level or higher; or
  • 2 years relevant industry experience in a role that requires the use of written documentation and communication

Open Colleges recognises that not all people are able to read, write and perform calculations to the same standard. See the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Considerations section for more information on tools, resources and support services provided to by Open Colleges.


You will need access to a computer and the internet and have basic computing skills. Minimum specifications for your computer are:

All users:

  • Microsoft Office 2010 or equivalent
  • Broadband internet connection
  • 2GB of RAM
  • CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Adobe Reader XI or equivalent
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher.
  • Access to printer and associated software
  • Access to scanner and associated software
  • Digital imaging software
  • File compression software.

Windows users:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 or higher (Windows 8 recommended)
  • 1 Ghz or faster processer (2GHz recommended)

Mac OS users:

  • Mac OSX v10.5 or higher (Mac OSX v10.6 recommended)
  • 1 Ghz or faster processer (2GHz recommended)


To successfully complete this course, you will require basic computing skills. This includes:

  • Creating, saving and editing Microsoft Office documents
  • Accessing and searching the internet
  • Downloading and saving documents from websites
  • Uploading documents through websites
  • Participating in online discussions
  • Connecting digital cameras and downloading and storing images and audio files
  • Connecting digital video devices and downloading and storing videos
  • Compressing image, audio and video files.

Physical requirements

Ability to lift approximately 15 kgs.

Video assessments

As part of the assessment for some units, you will be required to produce a video of yourself performing certain tasks. Some of these videos may involve another person.

Language, Literacy and Numeracy

Our free online assessment tool can help give you an idea of the language, literacy and numeracy skills needed to study a VET course. This tool can also help you determine your learning level and help you plan your future studies. You can access the Language, Literacy and Numeracy tool here.

Open Colleges may make changes to the course from time to time to reflect changes introduced to the relevant Training Package or other regulatory requirements. Please download the course guide for current information about the course and its status.

Module 1

  • Follow animal health management practices
  • Monitor and maintain the physical wellbeing of animals
  • Identify and report signs of ill health or injury in animals
  • Administer and record animal treatments

Module 2

  • Identify nutritional requirements  of animals
  • Evaluate food sources and calculate dietary requirements
  • Prepare diets and provide food and water
  • Monitor feeding and watering practices

Module 3

  • Develop enrichment strategies
  • Implement enrichment programs
  • Monitor and review enrichment strategies

Module 4: 4, 5, 6

Select three (3) electives

  • Identify commonly available dogs
  • Identify and evaluate behavioural and housing needs
  • Handle and restrain dogs
  • Assist with health care needs
  • Feed dogs
  • Maintain records
  • Identify common domestic cat breeds
  • Identify and evaluate behavioural and housing needs
  • Handle and restrain cats
  • Assist with health care needs
  • Feed cats
  • Maintain records
  • Identify commonly available rodents and rabbits
  • Identify and evaluate behavioural and housing needs
  • Catch, handle and restrain rodents and rabbits
  • Assist with health care needs
  • Feed rodents and rabbits
  • Maintain records
  • Establish client requirements
  • Plan grooming routine
  • Groom animals
  • Trim coat for animal comfort
  • Complete grooming and trimming procedures
  • Recognise and identify animal
  • Identify animal behaviour
  • Assess and respond to animal behaviour

Module 7

  • Provide high-level advice on companion animals
  • Manage animals in accordance with relevant codes of practice and legislative requirements
  • Provide advice on legislative requirements
  • Manage external relationships
  • Maintain records

Module 8

  • Provide information to the work group
  • Ensure others are able to implement safe work practices
  • Implement OHS participative processes
  • Monitor compliance with work procedures
  • Implement hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control procedures
  • Implement organisation procedures for maintaining OHS records
  • Implement OHS emergency procedures

Module 9

  • Investigate current practices in relation to resource usage
  • Set targets for improvements
  • Implement performance improvement strategies
  • Monitor performance

Module 10

  • Plan and complete own work schedule
  • Monitor own work performance
  • Coordinate professional development

Module 11

  • Identify context for communication
  • Clarify message and engage communication
  • Take follow-up actions

Module 12

  • Collect, analyse and communicate information and ideas
  • Develop trust and confidence as leader
  • Develop and maintain networks and relationships
  • Manage difficulties into positive outcomes

Module 13

  • Manage receipt, dispatch and storage of merchandise
  • Manage stock control



What are my payment options?

Pay in full

If you pay your course fees up-front in full, you’ll benefit from a discount. When you pay in full, we don’t have to spend extra money on administration for tasks such as payment plan processing. Instead, we get to pass this saving onto you in the form of a discount.

ZipMoney Payment Plan

If you need a little more flexibility in your finances, and want to pay off your course fees over a longer period of time, you can switch to a zipMoney payment plan. Essentially, zipMoney pays your course fees for you, and you pay this loan back over 24, 36 or 48 months. As long as you are eligible, you can switch to a zipMoney plan at any time.

Payment Plan

Pay for you course in weekly or fortnightly instalments. By paying in instalments, you can schedule your payments around your regular outgoings and get ahead without breaking the bank. Open Colleges payment plans are interest-free.

Find out more

Amy Hope

Amy has worked as a veterinary nurse and taught puppy schools in busy general practices in regional Victoria. Whilst completing her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, she qualified with high distinctions receiving an award nomination for outstanding academic achievements. Discovering a passion for training, Amy gained her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment to take on a new career in the vocational education sector. Amy enjoys encouraging nurses to learn new skills, enjoy their work, and take pride in their profession. Amy is a compassionate nurse, spending time volunteering across Thailand and will continue to do more during her career. 

Catherine Ford

Catherine has been a veterinary nurse for over 30 years and has been involved in many areas of the industry and worked with many different species. Her first position in the industry was working with the Animal Welfare League as an animal attendant, where she enrolled in a course called Animal Care, today known as Animal Studies, and Veterinary Nursing.

Catherine’s career has included working at a variety of specialist hospitals, as well as Waratah Park, Abbott Animal Health and TAFE. She is also involved in the Greyhound Adoption Program.

Chris Hosking

Chris Hosking is the Program Manager for Animal Care. Since 2004 he has had experience working with native and exotic invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles’ birds, and mammals. From 2008 to 2014 Chris coordinated the Australian Museum’s Live Exhibits where he undertook animal management, staff training and developed content about the live displays for the Museum’s programs. Chris remains a member of the Australian Museum’s Animal Care and Ethics Committee and a member of the Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping. Chris has a Bachelor of Arts from Flinders University and Certificate IV in Captive Animals.

Fiona Kelly

Fiona’s career has taken many twists over the past 30 years. Working in hotel management, public relations, event production and finally education, Fiona decided to follow her passion for animals by gaining a Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services. Now owning a dog training, grooming and pet care business and working as an in-house trainer/behaviourist at a Sydney veterinary hospital, Fiona is able to combine her ‘human’ training qualifications and experience with her passion for animals. Fiona is a qualified and accredited Delta positive dog trainer and an active member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) of Australia.

Lauri Steel

After seven years of veterinary nursing, Lauri changed her focus to the vocational training sector. She decided to follow her passion for training and educating up and coming veterinary nurses and animal carers. Lauri holds a variety of qualifications including a Cert II and III in Animal Studies, Cert III and IV in Companion Animal Services, Cert IV and Dip (ECC) in Veterinary Nursing, Cert IV in TAE and Diplomas in Vocational Education and Training, Training Design and Development, Business Admin, Management and Business.?

Robyn Bardsley

Robyn has principally worked as a Veterinary Nurse and as a Receptionist for 23 years. She undertook the Veterinary Nursing Certificate with Tamworth TAFE while working at the South Tamworth Animal Hospital Referral practice. Robyn worked at the Coffs Harbour Veterinary Hospital, and the Koala Hospital, moving further to the mid-north coast to the Macksville Veterinary Clinic. Throughout her working life, Robyn has undertaken numerous correspondence courses related to various disciplines

The course contains a minimum of 120 hours of work placement

The workplace will need to provide access to at least one species from the at least two of the six major animal groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates). The workplaces which could offer this include:

  • Veterinary practices
  • Boarding kennels and catteries
  • Retail pet stores
  • Day care facilities for companion animals
  • Animal welfare facilities
  • Companion animal breeding facilities

Examples of suitable workplaces would include veterinary practices, animal welfare organisations, pet shops, kennels, day care facilities for companion animal, companion animal breeding facilities and catteries. 

Your work placement will need to be completed in Australia, and you will be responsible for the costs of any travel, accommodation, statutory checks or other requirements related to your work placement. 


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Click Enrol Now and choose a payment plan or call an Education Advisor on 1300 161 345 for more details.