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The nearly 200 member companies of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association complete millions of mystery shops annually for hotels, restaurants, stores, spas and other businesses that want to improve customer service standards. Mystery shopping companies contract with workers who shop, dine or stay incognito and then write up reports about their consumer experiences. The MSPA’s certification program trains prospective mystery shoppers on two levels. Many MSPA member companies give preference to MSPA-certified shoppers when making assignments. By becoming certified, secret shoppers demonstrate that they are professionals, committed to doing a good job.
Review the requirements and prerequisites needed for MSPA’s two levels of certification. Silver certification takes less time and effort, but it is required before obtaining Gold certification.
Register for Silver certification through the MSPA’s website and pay the fee, which is $15 at the time of publication. Be sure to register with the same email address you use with mystery shopping companies. Your certification code will be tied to the email address you use when you register.
Complete lessons and quizzes required for Silver certification online. Most users find that the process takes about an hour or so. Once you have finished, you will immediately get your certification code.
Register for the Gold mystery shopper certification program once you have completed the Silver certification. Instruction for the Gold level is more advanced. It requires the use of a workbook and two DVDs, which you will receive via postal mail. The fee is $99 at the time of publication.
Watch the DVDs and read the workbook. The video instruction is about four hours long.
Take the three-part Gold certification exam online. The exam consists of a multiple-choice test, an observation exercise and a written narrative.
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.
MSPA certification is not required to work as a mystery shopper. However, it is recognized by many of the largest and most active mystery shopping companies. You do not have to have mystery shopping experience to obtain certification.
Beware of mystery shopper certifications offered by other organizations and private companies. These may be recognized by few or no shopping companies.
- “The Mystery Shopper's Manual”; Cathy Stucker; 2004
- Mystery Shopping Providers Association: General Certification Questions
- 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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