Do you think mystery shopping as one of the money making ideas that will work for you? Or have you already started, but looking for ways to improve your skills and take on better assignments? Then consider earning your Mystery Shopper Certification. Simple, convenient, and affordable, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s two certifications programs will give you what you need to take your mystery shopping income to the next level.
Why Should I Obtain My Certification?
As occupations develop, they tend to professionalize, and mystery shopping is no exception. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) was founded in an effort to establish ethics and standards for this growing industry. Currently, they have over 400 member companies worldwide, all of whom are looking for trained, reliable personnel. When you go to the effort (and minimal expense) required to earn your certification, you’re sending a signal to your chosen agencies that you’re serious about making quality judgments that will be valuable to their clients. Your credentials say that you’re reliable, dedicated, and intelligent; mystery shopping is more than just one of the money making ideas to you–and you take it seriously. This in turn makes them take you seriously.
While certification is not currently required to be a mystery shopper, it’s one qualification that will make you stand out in a crowd of applicants. All other things being equal, a certified shopper will be more likely to land an assignment (and an assignment of higher quality) than one who is not certified.
How Much Does It Cost?
The MSPA currently offers two levels of certification. The entry level, called Silver Certification, costs only $15 and is awarded after you pass an online test of basic skills, both in mystery shopping and literacy. The second, Gold Certification, consists of a DVD series, which replaces what were previously live seminars. This course costs $99, plus shipping and applicable taxes. The Gold certification material provides four hours worth of advanced training and an exam.
How Do I Earn My Certification?
You’ll receive your Silver level certification after you review the online material and take the exam; you’ll receive your code as soon as you pass (you must score 80% to do so). Most people pass the exam the first time, but if you’re not a test-taker, don’t worry! If you fail the Silver exam, you can retake it in 30 days (during which the questions will change).
To achieve a Gold level certificate, you will need to watch the four hours’ worth of DVDs, and then take an exam which measures your observational and reporting ability as well as your knowledge of the industry. You have three chances to pass the exam. Once you do, you will receive your code. If you cannot pass the test after three tries, you will need to pay for the course again to retake it.
I Passed! What Now?
Congratulations! Now take the time to notify the agencies with whom you’re registered that you’re now certified, and at which level. Over time, you’ll find that taking this step is beneficial in terms of winning more assignments and even landing some of the higher paying slots.
Becoming certified isn’t the end of your mystery shopping education, however. As you work, take every opportunity to learn from books, from fellow shoppers (both in person and on online forums). You’ll learn hints, techniques, and more money making ideas to keep your work life, and your bank account, satisfying.
The idea of being paid to shop is very appealing to many, many people, making the mystery shopping field extremely vulnerable to scammers. Chances are, you’ve seen ads in the paper, fastened to utility poles, or blinking at you on the internet, offering you lucrative shopping jobs or certification for a fee. Don’t click that icon or call that number! Although MSPA certification will enhance your credentials, even the MSPA website makes clear that being certified is not required to become a mystery shopper. And while you do pay for the materials and examinations provided for both certification levels, MSPA does not charge you to enter its forums or examine its lists of reputable mystery shopping and scheduling companies. Never, ever pay for mystery shopping job information. The information these so-called services provide is often available for free online; and many times, they’ll cash your check and provide nothing at all.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being in business for yourself, of having flexible hours which accommodate your school/family schedule, and having your income tied directly to your own hard work, then mystery shopping is a great money making opportunity. Granted, you won’t get rich doing it, but you will be able to get out, meet people, visit shops, restaurants and entertainment venues you might otherwise pass by, and gain a few freebies, all while earning a little extra money to help you on the way to your financial goals. When you’re looking for flexible, yet feasible money making ideas, consider adding “mystery shopper” to your portfolio.