Mystery Shopper Training Certification

Q.  What is the purpose of MSPA offering certification?

A. The goal is to OFFER education to shoppers. After hearing from shoppers for years that there are no programs for them since they are Independent Contractors, MSPA developed a two-level certification program in 2002. This certification program allows us to help you make personal and professional improvements for yourself and our industry.

Q.  Is it required?

A. No. If you are a good shopper with a performance history, you probably will not lose shops because you are not certified.

However, certification may help you receive more assignments and expand your business…

Q.  What is the difference in Silver Certification and Gold Certification?

A. Silver is offered on-line for a nominal fee and can be taken by anyone with access to a computer. The Silver Certification program is a BASIC skills test to ensure the person has the fundamental understanding of the mystery shopping industry and has the basic skills to read, comprehend and follow directions. You must be Silver Certified before you can go to Gold.

The Gold Certification allows you to attend an all day workshop, which covers much deeper material. At live workshops, you get to network with other shoppers and, in most locations, mystery shopping owners or key personnel will be in attendance.

Q.  What about the Gold DVD I've heard about...what is that?

A. The Gold Certification program also is available on DVD, so you can become certified from anywhere! The cost is $99, plus $5 shipping and handling.

The Gold DVD is a new program, launched in 2008, that permits shoppers to pursue and attain Gold Certification without having to attend a workshop. The Gold DVD program captures an entire live Gold Workshop, on two DVDs. Shoppers can watch the DVDs and then take a series of online examinations from the comfort of their home.

Many shoppers simply cannot attend live Gold workshops, either because of scheduling conflicts, distance from workshop locations, or other such factors. The Gold DVD program was created to accommodate those shoppers and to help meet the demand for more Gold Certified Shoppers.

Q.  Am I guaranteed more work or higher pay if I am certified?

A. No, however the certification may give you an inside edge to gaining assignments. Imagine two shoppers in the same town, with the same experience and work performance. One is certified and one is not. All other things being equal, the certification sets one shopper above the other.

Q.  I have always been told, “Do not pay to shop.” Why is this different?

A. We agree with that. You are not however paying to get more shops; you are paying to learn more about an industry that is changing every day. You may learn some tricks to help you work smarter and do your work in less time. You may not have booked more shops, but you are taking less time to do your current shops. Time is money as well.

Q.  Will the Silver test change frequently?

A. Yes, we will be changing the test often to ensure the questions are fresh. We will also be monitoring to see if the Silver test is too easy and looking at the pass/fail rate and making improvements as we go. Currently, a passing score is 80%.

Q.  What if I fail the test?

A. If you fail the Silver test, you are able to take it again in 30 days. You must pay each time you take the test. You may take the new Gold Certification test up to three times if you fail the exam; after which time you must pay again if you wish to become Gold certified.

Q.  Are the Silver and Gold certification expenses tax deductible?

A. Since you are an independent contractor, any expenses related to your business, including seminars and workshops may be tax deductible. Consult your tax advisor for more information.

Q.  Summary

A. These programs are being offered for shoppers to fill a need. The certification is in no way required, but in our attempt to raise the bar for our entire industry this is a small step forward. We hope that you join the growing number of shoppers who see education and networking as a worthwhile endeavor.