How to Get a Mystery Shopper Certification


The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) offers a legitimate mystery shopper certification program for shoppers who want to expand their knowledge and increase their opportunities. The MSPA is the leading industry association, with nearly 200 member companies. These companies are responsible for completing millions of mystery shops annually, and they include the leaders in the mystery shopping arena.

There are two levels of certification available: Silver and Gold. The Silver certification is a basic introduction to mystery shopping. The Gold is more comprehensive and covers skills critical to successfully completing secret shops and writing shop reports.

Although no company requires mystery shopper certification, many MSPA member companies give preference to MSPA certified shoppers when making assignments. Often, companies first offer their best assignments (such as hotels, spas, fine dining and other high-end shops) to Gold certified shoppers, then Silver certified, then non-certified shoppers. Secret shopping companies know that certified shoppers have received training that makes them more reliable and effective. Plus, just by becoming certified, secret shoppers demonstrate that they are professionals, committed to doing a good job.

Getting certified can mean increasing the number and value of shops a mystery shopper receives, so serious mystery shoppers should consider certification an investment in their careers. Mystery shopper certification is now more convenient than ever. Both Silver and Gold certification can be completed from the comfort of your home.

  • Learn about mystery shopper certification at the MSPA web site (see the Resources). There are two levels of certification: Silver and Gold. Silver certification is required before obtaining Gold certification. There is no prerequisite for Silver certification.

  • Sign up for Silver certification. There is a $15 fee for the Silver mystery shopper certification. Be sure to register with the same email address you use with the mystery shopping companies. Your certification code will be tied to the email address you use when you register. (It can be changed later, if necessary.)

  • Complete the Silver certification online. It only takes about an hour or so to go through the lessons and complete the quizzes. Once you have finished, you will immediately get your certification code.

  • You may register for the Gold mystery shopper certification program once you have completed the Silver certification. The Gold is more advanced, and there is a $99 fee. You will receive a workbook and two DVDs via postal mail.

  • Watch the DVDs and read the workbook. The DVDs are about four hours long. You may watch them in one session, or in parts over several days.

  • Take the online test. There are three parts to the Gold certification exam: a multiple choice test, an observation exercise, and a written narrative. Each provides a portion of your score. You may take all three parts on the same day, or spread them over more than one day.

  • Wait for your results. You will receive them within a few days. Most shoppers pass on the first attempt, but you may take the exam up to three times, if needed.

  • Update your profiles with MSPA member companies with your certification code. Once they know that you are certified, you may see more and better mystery shopping opportunities come your way.

Tips & Warnings

  • MSPA certification, although not required, is recognized by many of the largest and most active mystery shopping companies. There are mystery shopper certifications offered by other organizations and private companies that are recognized by few (or no) companies.
  • You do not have to have mystery shopping experience to obtain certification. The point of the certification program is to educate mystery shoppers about the industry and what is expected of shoppers.

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