From education to employment

Northern Regional College Animal Management Graduate One Step Closer to Achieving his Dream Job

Northern Regional College Animal Management Graduate One Step Closer to Achieving his Dream Job

Newtownabbey student Adam McClurg, who was awarded a Higher National Diploma in Animal Management at Northern Regional College’s recent Higher Education graduation, is among the first group of students to complete the qualification at the College. 

The animal industry is an important sector in Northern Ireland with many career progression opportunities available for people who are suitably qualified. Northern Regional College introduced the HND in Animal Management two years ago in response to growing demand. It is a university level qualification with a strong emphasis on veterinary science, veterinary nursing, and veterinary practice management. It aims to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to apply for animal related degree programmes at university or to progress to full-time employment in the sector. During the two year full-course, students study Animal Health and Welfare, Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Nursing, Business and Project Management. The course is available at the College campuses in both Newtownabbey and Coleraine.

Adam’s goal to work at Belfast Zoo and now that he had an accredited Level 5 qualification in Animal Management, he hopes that he is a step closer to achieving his dream job.

He said: “I always wanted to work with animals and enjoy just learning all about them. I’ve already completed eight months work experience at Belfast Zoo and I absolutely loved it. My plan now is to volunteer at different animal sanctuaries to get more experience.”

Adam, who is a former pupil of Newtownabbey Community High School, completed a Level two Diploma in Animal Care at Northern Regional before progressing to the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management. This is a vocational course, which is the academic equivalent of three A levels and having successfully completed the Level 3 Diploma, Adam was able to progress and do the HND.

He admitted that although initially he felt apprehensive about making the transition from secondary school to an FE College, with hindsight he realises it was the right decision for him:

“I live locally and knew some people from the High School who were planning to go to the College which helped me decide. I also spoke to the Animal Care lecturers at a College Open Night and they made me feel comfortable and reassured me.”

Adam said he enjoyed his time as a student at Northern Regional College and would encourage others to check out the different courses that are available at their local FE college. He added that working his way up from the Level 2 course in Animal Care to the Level 5 in Animal Management, had boosted his confidence and self-esteem:

I feel more confident, and my self-esteem has improved since I have been a student at Northern Regional College. I had bad anxiety about socialising, but I have come out of my shell during my time at the College. I am more self-motivated and a better communicator; I can work well within a team or on my own initiative, all of which will improve my future employability,” he said.

Applications are open for all higher education courses starting in September 2024.  For further details and to apply visit

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