City & Guilds Qualifications

We are proud to be a City & Guilds approved training centre with an excellent reputation within City & Guilds and future employers - for the high quality of the training we deliver to our students, and the calibre of the achievers that leave us to go out into the world of animal care!

We can offer you a unique, hands-on route to gaining a fully accredited and nationally recognised qualification, whilst working with all species of British wildlife.

We offer practical training courses, in all aspects of animal husbandry. As a working wildlife hospital, and a practical training centre, our students spend 90% of their time working and learning hands-on: cleaning, feeding, mucking out and moving some of the thousand plus wild animals that we have in our hospital at any one time.

Most of what we teach is practically taught, with our students actually handling the hedgehogs, birds of prey, rabbits and swans. They get involved in all aspects of care from taking in deliveries of bags of feed, cleaning and hosing down pens, cages and aviaries to working in the wards and outside enclosures in all weathers. You get to see the full lifecycle of the hospital and work directly with all the sick, injured and orphaned species that come through our doors every day. Seeing those animals that come in, go through their treatment, get well and go back out into the wild is the whole point of what we are doing here at Tiggywinkles.

We do some classroom based learning to reinforce the practical training and experience, plus students will get assignments too – but classroom time is kept to a minimum as we know from experience (and employer feedback too) that our students learn best when they actually have a go!

These courses are ideal for anyone wishing to learn the basics or build their experience of animal husbandry, whilst working hands-on with wildlife, in a very busy Hospital environment.

“I like the mainly hands-on approach and the animal handling. I want to work with animals, perhaps as a behaviourist.” Emma.

Life After Tiggys?

The combination of qualification and hands-on experience is essential to getting a job. Training here will open all sorts of career opportunities or routes into further education that you might not have thought open to you previously.

We have a fantastic success rate of getting our students into jobs or higher education! And it isn’t just me saying that, our statistics speak for themselves.

Over the past seven years 95% of our graduates are in employment or further/higher education within four months of completing their course!

Students from Tiggywinkles have gone on to work in kennels, catteries, pet shops & reptile specialists, animal rehoming centres, wildlife centres, zoos, stud farm, dog au-pair and training facilities, to name but a few. Around a third of our Diploma students go on to do Veterinary Nurse training, which is fantastic. A quarter go to college or university to study animal management, conservation or other degree courses. Training alongside real working animal care staff helps to shape our students ambitions and career ideas – as many come in saying “I want to do something with animals”!

“I enjoy the practical experience, which will help as I want to work as a zoo keeper.” George.


Listen to Helen, our Education & Communications Officer, explain more about our courses and what it is like to be a part of the Tiggywinkles team via the Mix 96 website here.

Courses Available

We run different course levels, click below to learn more about each course.

Level 1 Land Based Studies

Level 2 Animal Care

Level 3 Animal Management

Apply Today

Download an application form here: Student Application form.

'Hands on' learning

We run a mainly practical programme, where students spend most of their rota in different areas of the Hospital working 'hands on' with our patients, cleaning & feeding. The theory of Animal Care is covered by a mixture of practical and assignments.


Assessments are carried out on-site by our team of experienced, qualified Assessors, using a variety of methods including observation, assignments and questions & answers.

Entry Requirements

Level 1: a minimum of Entry 3 Maths and English or GCSE grades at 1-2/E-G.

Level 2: 3 GCSEs at grade 2-3 / D-E or above, including English and Maths.

Level 3: 4 GCSEs including English, Maths and Science at grade 4 / C or above.
OR Level 2 Animal Care Diploma at Merit Grade, with a Distinction in the Biology Unit.
Plus independent study skills are required to work at this level.

What do I need?

All students are required to wear Tiggywinkles uniform tops when here. Students are expected to provide their own A4 folders, dividers, pens and a lot of punched pockets. More importantly, you will need plenty of enthusiasm!

Start Dates

Tiggywinkles takes on a small number of students each Autumn – so we can give you the best experience and training possible. We often receive more applications than we have places, and therefore we only take on students who we feel are really committed to learning and achieving their qualification.

Courses run for 12 or 24 months, as a working hospital we do not run term time only. We are not a residential centre, so you will need to live (or rent) locally or be prepared to travel to get here.

There are a number of ways you can help and support our life-saving work.