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Human Services Degrees

How to Become A Mystery Shopper

Mystery shoppers are people who pose as regular customers to conduct market research surveys for a company or business. They work as freelance contractors and purchase or consume company products or services to provide a detailed evaluation.

Should I Become a Mystery Shopper?

Mystery shoppers’ basic job is to evaluate a product or service offered by a particular company or business. Based on their report, companies and businesses improve their offered product or service for the general public. Most of the time, mystery shoppers are required to take photographs or videos to document their experience. A certain set of instructions are provided by the organization that hires them to let them know what is required of them. Mystery shoppers are typically asked to shop at a physical location however, sometimes they are also required to perform other assignments over the phone or online.

Most visits take between 15 minutes and an hour. Once the visit is over, mystery shoppers appraise their experience. They then hand in their evaluation along with any additional material, like receipts, to get their payment. Whether they actually buy, and keep, specific items or services varies by assignment.

Education Required

A High School Diploma or a GED

Major Requirement

Willingness to travel


Not required


Not required

Key Skills

Communication skills, keen eye, computer savvy, familiarity with customer concerns and due diligence etc.

Annual Mean Salary

Not Available

Job Outlook

Not Available

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics did not report any employment and wage data for mystery shoppers. Instead, BLS places them among All Other Business Operations Specialists. According to the BLS, a typical task for a mystery shopper may pay anywhere between $5 and $20 per trip. Moreover, some companies only compensate money spent on purchasing a product or service. For instance, a company might refund the cost of dinner but not pay a wage for the time spent on the assigned task.

Career Requirements

Mystery shoppers’ job requires a lot of traveling therefore, employers look for people who are willing to travel short and sometimes even long distances. Those who successfully earn enough to make ends meet actually master the art of managing several tasks in a short span of time for several companies. A crucial trait in a mystery shopper that is desired by all employers is their ability to produce an honest and quality report.

To work as a mystery shopper, people need to apply to a lot of companies as well as separate applications need to be submitted for each task. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association is one of the professional organizations that provide a detailed list of companies that need mystery shoppers.

Steps to Becoming a Mystery Shopper

Those who love shopping and want to make a career out of it must look at the steps explained below.

  1. Education

Although this profession does not require any formal education or training, you need to have excellent communication skills to interact with store employees and write high quality reports. Completing a high school diploma or a GED would go a long way.

  1. Other Skills

Mystery shoppers are required to have a certain skillset which demands being well-organized, detail oriented, diligent and fluent in spoken and written English Language.

  1. Professional Training or Certification

It is not mandatory for mystery shoppers to possess any particular certifications. However, most employers provide on-the-job training to newly hired mystery shoppers as it helps them get familiar with company policies and certain procedures.

  1. Personal Data

When you register with companies as a mystery shopper or apply for a certain task, you are required to provide your particulars which are later used to make payments, send parcels or for tax purposes. For instance, individuals in their 20s may be hired to visit a local casino and report back whether or not its younger clientele is being asked for proof of age.

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