Applications open for 2024 programs. Apply for free today
Perfect destination for improving your Spanish language skills!
Veterinary & Animal Care Internships in Costa Rica

Veterinary & Animal Care Internships in Costa Rica

Gain hands-on experience assisting vets in Costa Rica. Interns are placed alongside practicing vet staff to gain understanding of real life treatments and care techniques, and experience how a veterinary clinic runs. Ideal for veterinary students!

Internship Highlights:
  • Experience daily life in a veterinary clinic
  • Gain exposure to a range of animal treatments and care techniques
  • Learn practical veterinary skills caring for animals
Type of host organizations:
  • Veterinary clinics in Costa Rica
Fully hosted experience from $2139
Includes accommodation & meals
Typical schedule: 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday
Minimum duration 4 weeks, up to 24 weeks maximum
Spanish language lessons available
Get job-ready with our Experiential Learning Curriculum
Internships align with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Eligibility requirements and Associated career paths
Eligibility requirement

Suitable for students or graduates who can present academic proof to demonstrate their studies/qualifications related to animal care.

Language requirements

Interns must confidently speak Spanish at a basic to intermediate level. Click here if you are seeking a comparable internship which is suitable for participants who do not speak Spanish.

Associated career paths

Dog Trainer/Handler, Animal Behaviourist, Veterinarian, Veterinary Nurse, Pet Groomer

Internship details

This is an ideal internship for vet students looking to gain hands-on veterinary experience, assisting practicing vets in Costa Rica as they work with local animals to provide a wide range of care and treatments.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided.

Veterinary internships in Costa Rica are typically based around the town of San Ramon de Alajuela, where interns are placed in a vet clinic, helping local staff with all aspects of daily tasks. This internship program is ideal for animal lovers studying for an animal care qualification (or a related field) who wish to gain hands-on practical experience. Interns are required to provide academic records or proof of enrollment, and should include this information in your application.

Veterinary interns can assist vet doctors and technicians with medical procedures, feeding, bathing, brushing, obedience training, administering medicine, cleaning cages, and assisting with animal rehabilitation. Anything that’s routinely required of a vet during their day, interns can be there to experience. Depending on each intern’s level of experience, there may also be scope to assist with vaccinations, surgeries, and diagnoses.

In all cases, interns should expect that the first week of your experience will focus on settling in and gaining some introductory knowledge, as you will not “hit the ground running”. Rather, you should start with learning about the placement to gain an understanding of what you can build upon, develop, learn, and contribute. Ensure that you ask questions and provide feedback during the introductory period, so that your supervisor understands how you’re progressing. This will help them to better understand important details, such as how quickly you learn, what you find challenging, what you find interesting, etc.

Understand and expect that individual internship experiences vary, as the specific placement that you’re assigned will depend on review of your resume and your current level of studies and experience. Therefore, if you’re at a more introductory level, you should reasonably expect a more introductory internship. Likewise, if you’re interning for a shorter duration, you will have a different experience from someone who is interning for a longer duration. Placement preferences are considered but always subject to availability.

Career Benefits

Veterinary & Animal Care interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Veterinary medical procedures

  • Diagnoses & animal rehabilitation

  • Observing & assisting with surgeries

  • Administering medicine & vaccinations

  • Guidance on obedience training

  • Feeding, bathing & brushing

  • Cleaning cages

Professional development opportunities:
  • Work with experienced veterinarians

  • Interact with clients and learn how to assist them

  • Learn about standardized procedures

  • Learn about different medical products

  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.

Costa Rica photo gallery

What recent interns said about their experience

MH
Madison Holloway
May 2022

I would love to be a traveling Vet one day. This would mean that I get to learn and use new methods from across the globe. This internship was the start of that dream. I feel I got the experience of a lifetime and made amazing friends while doing so. My role as a veterinary intern was to assist with consults, in surgeries, performing ultrasounds, x rays, bloodwork, urine work, and other lab tests. I was responsible for administering medications and injections, taking care of in-patients, and preparing food and water. This role allowed me to be more adaptable and really highlighted my problem-solving skills. My most memorable moment was participating in a Ligament Surgery. It was my first surgery ever! Literally everything I learnt I can now use towards my goal. The workspace at my organization was immaculate. No one ever had a bad attitude or felt overpowered.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Our commitment to providing safe internship experiences

Academic credit available for all internships

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.

Learn about course credit

Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Duration
Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks $2,139 Equivalent to $76 /day
5 weeks $2,253 Equivalent to $64 /day
6 weeks $2,394 Equivalent to $57 /day
8 weeks $2,626 Equivalent to $46 /day
10 weeks $2,864 Equivalent to $40 /day
12 weeks $3,048 Equivalent to $36 /day
16 weeks $3,525 Equivalent to $31 /day
20 weeks $3,893 Equivalent to $27 /day
24 weeks $4,260 Equivalent to $25 /day
  • Airport pick-up
  • Daily breakfast and dinner
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Program orientation
  • Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
  • In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
  • Sourcing and securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • Coaching from your supervisor
  • Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
  • Academic credit facilitation
  • International reference letter
  • Certificate of Internship Completion
  • Lunches
  • All in-country transportation
  • Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
  • Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
  • Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
  • A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
  • Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.

Arrival and Orientation

Internships in Costa Rica begin every Monday. Exceptions may be made to this when start dates are shifted to avoid public holiday disruptions or closed when the program has already reached capacity. The minimum duration requirement is 2 weeks up to a maximum duration of 24 weeks.

Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Sunday night before the Monday start date - interns are required to arrive no later than the Sunday before their Monday start date, as all orientations are held on Mondays. If arriving earlier than this date, interns will be required to cover the cost of an “out of hours” airport pick up.

The typical port of entry is the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). If you are planning to spend time independently in Costa Rica prior to your internship and will not require an airport pick up, we can discuss alternative arrival logistics with you.

Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation. The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on Sunday. Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged in advance, if requested, and are subject to availability.

Orientation covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Your specific internship placement orientation will follow the general orientation, as you’ll be shown how to travel to and from your internship and be introduced to the team you’ll be joining.

Please note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.

Check what’s required to visit Costa Rica

Check out the widget below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Costa Rica, based on your country of residence.

Accommodation and WiFi

All interns in Costa Rica are accommodated in various homestay accommodations. Interns are matched to an appropriate host family, taking into consideration convenient proximity to their internship placement. Typical host families in Costa Rica usually comprise of two parents and children or a single parent with children (the ages of a host family’s children can range from young and still living at home, to adults living independently). There are usually 1 - 2 bedrooms in most home-stays and everyone has their own bedroom (unless special requests are made in advance to share with a friend or partner). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in most of the home-stays but it is important to note that it is not guaranteed.

Accommodation upgrades are available at an additional cost, for those who would prefer more independent accommodation and social interaction with other travelers. Interns who have confirmed their participation may opt to arrange hostel accommodation, in either a dorm (sharing a room with 4-8 beds) or a private room. Dormitories provide lockers, so that guests may securely store their personal items. Bathrooms are typically shared. Amenities include WiFi and a common area for guest use. Please note that hostel accommodation is subject to availability (depending on the location of your internship) and includes daily breakfast only. Interns who are interested in arranging an accommodation upgrade are welcome to speak with their Internship Program Manager for more information.

Please note that the accommodation pictured in the photo gallery of this webpage is provided as an example. Since we work with more than one option for homestay accommodation, the exact accommodation that you’re assigned may differ from the photos. However, you can expect a similar standard and similar amenities, to what is shown.

Meals

Internships in Costa Rica include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Costa Rican breakfast is provided and may consist of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance, so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations accordingly.

Spanish lessons

Internships in Costa Rica require interns to have varying levels of Spanish language proficiency, from either a confident level of basic Spanish to a more developed grasp of intermediate language skills. The definition of having basic Spanish skills (Level A2) includes the ability to exchange brief information with questions and answers, use and understand simple language in daily situations and cultural aspects.

Keep in mind that despite you level of proficiency, a language barrier can still be encountered to a certain extent. Interns should be prepared for the very natural and normal frustration of not always understanding what is being said around them. Most interns are able to have a successful internship experience and it is essential to come prepared and willing to surmount a language barrier, as opposed to being intimidated by it.

We strongly recommend that all interns take advantage of the affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization in Costa Rica. These can be arranged directly with the local team once registered for the program (ask about online Skype lessons) or at the orientation in-country. Language lessons are tailored to each individual’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday.

Weekends and travel

During the weekends, free time is available to relax, engage in tourism activities and explore other parts of Costa Rica. The program is based in the canton of San Ramon, in Alajuela Province. This is 55 km/34 mi northeast of Puntarenas (the nearest coastal town), 58 km/36 mi from the capital city of San Jose, and 31 km/19 mi from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The Pan-American Highway is easily accessible to the south and a northern route provides direct access to the popular tourism destination of Volcan Arenal.

Popular tourist attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include visiting Poás Volcano National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Los Ángeles Cloud Forest and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Within the city of San Jose, there are various museums and galleries, such as the Precolumbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design - just to name a few!

Our local team in Costa Rica are also able to assist interns with trip bookings, to experience more of the country. These can be coordinated directly once you’ve registered to confirm your internship program. Options include:

  • Tortuga Island: This sightseeing full-day trip includes return transportation from local pick-up points, guides, snacks and entertainment, catamaran tour, and lunch in Tortuga Island. Located within the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island is a paradise archipelago which has maintained the Ecological Blue Flag status for more than twelve years. The turquoise waters are beautiful to swim in and the trip is not to be missed while you’re exploring the coasts!

  • Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour and La Paz Waterfall Garden: This full day excursion covers some of the region’s highlights. You’ll want to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes for the three adventures, all across different eco-systems. Within La Paz Waterfall Garden, you’ll have a great opportunity to check out some of the amazing wildlife. There’s a hummingbird garden, serpentarium, aviaries, butterfly garden and tropical frog exhibit.

  • San Luis Canopy Tour: This tour departs from San Ramon and only takes half a day. Enjoy views of the Cataraticas River, bring comfortable clothing and a sense of adventure! There are 12 cables on this zip-line tour, with lengths from 56 to 550 meters, connected across 18 platforms. You’ll also get to experience the Tarzan swing and Superman cable - woohoo!

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5.094 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00
Weather and climate:

Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country, situated between 8° and 11° north latitude, fairly close to the equator. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 20.6°C (69°F).