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Level 3 Keeper and Aquarist Apprenticeship

This 24-month programme is for apprentices employed within zoos, wildlife parks, aquariums, private animal collections, animal reserves, and farms with a zoo licence.

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Course Summary

Subject Area: Animal Care
Location: Workplace
Full Time or Part Time: FT
Level: 3
Number Of Years: 1
Interview Required?: Y

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Course Information for Students

This apprenticeship will help you progress in a career as a zoo keeper or aquarist.  It will equip you to:

• Interpret diet sheets, and prepare and deliver animal feeds
• Service, clean and manage animal environments
• Provide species-specific habitats and routines for animals in line with their natural history
• Observe and understand animal behaviour, animal health and welfare, recording and reporting findings
• Check enclosure and other work areas for potential or existing hazards
• Engage with visitors and stakeholders, tailoring information to the audience

Keepers and aquarists assist and adhere to the zoological collections and industry best practice, law, protocols and procedures in relation to animal husbandry, welfare, transportation and work health and safety. On this apprenticeship, they will also learn about and understand the role of key stakeholders in their area of work.

Please see the Institute for Apprenticeship website for further information

Keeper and aquarist / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

  • Experience volunteering or working within the animal care sector
  • Good work ethic
  • Be in employment and be committed to your career
  • Desirably three GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and Maths

Apprentices without Level 2 English and Maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking their End Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

The apprentice will follow a training programme to complete the apprenticeship requirements and meet the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for them to be fully competent:

  • The apprentice works and trains with the employer and/or training provider
  • The apprentice will create and maintain a mandatory portfolio in order to provide the supporting evidence that will be needed to supplement the knowledge, skills and behaviours observed by the independent assessor at the End Point Assessment. The portfolio will be used as evidence for the professional discussion.
  • A record of off-the-job training – this is training that must occur for a minimum of 20% of the time the apprentice is paid to work and is training delivered outside of their normal working duties – to develop a wider understanding of the industry.

Please see the Institute for Apprenticeship website for further information

Keeper and aquarist / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education




Learning will take place in a variety of ways, which could include workplace training, formal courses, work shadowing, industrial visits, research, self-study, attendance at College for classroom/workshop activities and time spent completing assignments set by the assessor.

You need PPE for the workplace and writing materials.

The apprentice will undertake their End Point Assessment when the employer, training provider and apprentice all consider that they are ready to do so.  This stage of the apprenticeship is known as the gateway and will not be reached until the apprentice has completed at least 24 months on the programme. 

The End Point Assessment will be carried out by an independent assessor and will be made up of a practical observation (2 hours) and a professional discussion informed by the completed portfolio.

End Point Assessment Gradings

This qualification is graded Fail, Pass or Distinction.

Functional Skills

Before taking the End Point Assessment, apprentices must have Level 2 English and Maths (equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C/9-4)

You can advance to a full-time Level 3 or degree programme in Animal Care or a further apprenticeship programme.

You can also progress into employment.

For more information contact Derby College Group on 0800 0280289 or

Course Information for Employers

You may already have someone in your organisation or someone who has come to you directly asking for an apprenticeship but – if you don’t – we have a free recruitment service to help you hire the best candidate for your organisation from our talent pool and can provide external advertising through social media and the National Apprenticeship Service’s website.

If you are an employer and you would like to know more, please email or call 01332 387421

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Course Information Last Updated On: March 4, 2022 3:29 pm