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 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
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Ray Sola
Volition.com Staff

Prescott, AZ
USA
3099 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  12:33:12 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
When a moderator was deleting some very off topic comments in the previous 16 page thread going back over 2 years, they accidentally deleted the whole thread. I'm looking into how this happened so that it never happens again. Like adding a flashing light that says "This will Delete the entire Topic. Are you sure you want to do that?"

From myself and the moderator, we sincerely apologize to everyone who had posted feedback on the certification process.

That being said, lets start over. Please repost about how much more work you have gotten since being certified and about all the companies that are giving preferential treatment to those that are.

ciao,
Ray




Click here for info from MSPA about getting certified.
http://www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers/certification.php


NOTE RELATED TOPICS:

Is not being MSPA certified detrimental to you? (Assuming there was one in your area)

Tips Requested to make the MSPA Gold Workshop better for those about to go

Should there be more qualifications to being a MSPA Gold Certified Shopper?

Tips Requested: MSPA Silver Certification Test

NipunB
Star Contributor

Phillipsburg, NJ
USA
540 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  1:08:42 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Well for me silver certification has been worth it. there are atleast 3 prophet sites which have been sending a lot of jobs my way since i put in my silver certification. I had never heard from them before. Also i think silver certification has been getting me more sassie jobs. I seem to be getting accepted to more Sassie jobs.

Silver Certified. Shopping Pensylvania and New Jersey
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Jen_in_MD
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1168 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  1:48:55 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Wow...that's too bad. I seem to remember that there was a lot of good information and sharing of opinions on this thread. For me, I have definitely seen a difference. The number of shops have remained pretty consistent, but I've been offered "better" shops since I got the gold. It's also nice because there are a few companies who send advanced notice to gold shoppers about when they're going to post on their websites. And, as others have mentioned, the networking was invaluable. I met some great people during the conference.

MSPA Gold certified: #5bqyg3
Specializing in hotel, spa, and fine dining evaluations throughout MD, DC, and Northern VA
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Cindy in Indiana
Star Contributor

South Bend, IN
USA
277 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  2:58:10 PM  Send Cindy in Indiana an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have been Gold Certified for a year and a half. Since that time, I have gotten 2 jobs that were available for Gold shoppers only. Each job paid very well, so I have recouped my Gold certification fee and then some. There's no telling how many other assignments I've gotten because I'm Gold certified, but I'm sure it has tipped the scales in my favor a few times.

Not only has it been worth it for me financially, but I truly enjoyed the Gold Certification workshop. It was fun to meet schedulers and other shoppers from my area.

Cindy
MSPA Gold Certified #hp4ksf


Happily shopping Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan since 2000.
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Debra
Star Contributor

Colorado Springs, CO
USA
629 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  4:06:29 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I became Gold certified in November, 2004. I have received more (and BETTER) job offers since then, and have been scheduled for assignments by companies I had applied to before certification. It was well worth it for me.

Debra

Shopping the Rockies
MSPA Gold Certified #cdgxel
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Nora
Star Contributor

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  4:42:10 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
What a dreadful thing to have happened.
Ray, before posting to this thread, I am wondering if you could clear up a little confusion for me. The title of this thread is somewhat different than the objective of the thread in your last sentence. Maybe if that is clarified, it will reduce any tendency for the thread to wander off-track.
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SandieHB
Valued Contributor

Huntington Beach, CA
USA
219 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  6:38:05 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Looks like someone has wandered off track already!

For me, getting my Gold certification has definitely been worth it. It was educational, and I have received better jobs because of it.

Sandie
MSPA Gold Certified

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Ray Sola
Volition.com Staff

Prescott, AZ
USA
3099 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  7:07:50 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Nora

Ray, before posting to this thread, I am wondering if you could clear up a little confusion for me. The title of this thread is somewhat different than the objective of the thread in your last sentence.
I'm not sure what is not clear. Should a Mystery Shopper get certified? Is it worth it? Has it paid for itself? Have you gotten more work? Have schedulers been nicer to you?
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Stacey in SouthFlorida
Contributor

Fort Lauderdale, FL
USA
90 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  7:33:35 PM  Send Stacey in SouthFlorida an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I obtained my Gold Certification last summer at the Orlando conference. I have to admit that for the first few months after the conference, I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it. I didn't see any of those purported "for gold shoppers only" shops. It wasn't until a few months ago that I've seen those shops come in. From a social standpoint, it was nice to meet other shoppers and network. I would highly recommend that others attend.

Stacey

Stacey
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping all around Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Florida
AOL IM: StaceyShopperSFL
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Nancy1953
Valued Contributor

Drexel Hill, PA
USA
100 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  8:35:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I think the certification was definitely worth it! I'm gold certified for over a year or so now and definitely get more shops more easily than before. Not so much hunting for jobs, more land in my mailbox! Could it be coincidence? Maybe, but as someone else said there are those early release shops for certified shoppers only. My husband isn't certified and he doesn't get those emails. Its hard to compare how many more shops I get in my mail since I don't monitor his! And he doesn't shop as much as I do. He's a 'weekender' or 'dayoff-er' vs. an addict like me! LOL So, I suggest going for the gold to anyone who asks, its been worth it for me.
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VickiA
Star Contributor

Rapid City, SD
USA
845 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  8:56:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
In my area, I feel my certification hasn't meant a hill of beans for anything. I have competition that isn't certified and they still receive jobs that I, a certified and experienced shopper, have applied for. Silver has done nothing for me but discouraged me to ever go Gold

Silver Shopper ID# 3akxzg Shopping Rapid City South Dakota and surrounding areas!
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Nora
Star Contributor

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  06:51:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Ray, thank you for your response, if not for a clear-cut answer.
However, I'll give it a go in response to your questions.

Becoming certified is certainly an individual's prerogative.

Worth? I haven't see a difference, but I've done this sporadically since 1984 and have developed a history with some companies.

Has it paid for itself? Again, indeterminate.

Have you gotten more work? Indeterminate.

Have schedulers become nicer? Not at all; but the schedulers that I've dealt with have always been nice, in addition to being professional and accomodating.
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AdAora
Star Contributor

Deep in the heart of, TX
USA
3770 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  07:10:31 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I agree with Nora. I know I've gotten some "first dibs" emails and some self-assign privileges for being gold certified which I really appreciate. But I was doing pretty well before I got certified.

When the workshop came to Dallas, I just decided that it would be better to seize the opportuntiy to get it, deduct it from my taxes,and hope it would help in geting good shops in this highly competitive DFW area. I would not have travelled miles out of my way for it so I was lucky it ended up less than an hour's drive away.

Gold certified in TX
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Pat A
Star Contributor

Gulf Breeze, Florida
USA
273 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  09:30:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'm Silver certified and I do feel being certified helps some mystery shopping companies feel more comfortable in hiring you. I'm sure getting a reputation as being reliable and following instructions as well as sending in good reports (done on time) also have a great bearing on the jobs you're offered. As for me, I'm looking forward to going for the Gold in Jacksonville in November and being able to network with some fellow shoppers and schedulars.

Happily shopping the Pensacola, Destin area and all of the beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida.
MSPA Gold Certified
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Dee in AZ
Star Contributor

Tucson, AZ
USA
663 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  09:32:17 AM  Send Dee in AZ an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I haven't seen a big change in my monthly business since becoming Gold. I was already doing as much work as I could handle and I can't say I've seen any real increase in offers. I do appreciate the emails with early releases for gold shoppers but I can't say I am picking up any more of these jobs than previously. I think I've gotten more shops from the new "Job Alerts" forum than from "early gold shopper" emails.
I am also not looking for the big narratives and highly detailed shops. I already work full time and I prefer the quick ones that I can do in a short time frame. I think for someone trying to make a living out of MS going for the gold could only help.

As far as networking I was already networking with the coolest shopper in southern AZ ( Vicky) but it was fun to meet some of the others too. It is always fun to meet up with people who understand the whole MS world.

There were no company representatives at the conference I attended so I didn't expand my horizons there.
I do think it will be easier to start working for a new company now that I have the gold. It is a foot in the door so to speak.

Would I do it over knowing what I know now? Yes I would. The alternative of not being gold in an area that hosted a conference was not a position I wanted to be in. That may not be a great reason but it is the truth!
I think the shoppers who will get the most benefit from the gold will be those that are just starting out and have not yet built up relationships with companies and schedulers. Also going to one of the larger cities where company reps attend would be preferred over the smaller cities where they don't show. However each of us has to balance out the costs and the value to our own business and I wouldn't attempt to tell anyone else what their choice should be.

Happy Easter weekend everyone!!!!

Deanna Kessler
Deannna.kessler@seelevelhx.com
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KaySFbay
Star Contributor

Redwood City, California
USA
316 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  11:27:22 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
My silver certification is meaningless. I received just as many phone calls and personal emails after it as I did before. The criteria the schedulers were using was "Hey, you live in such-and-such an area. Can you do this shop for us?"

I submit that first and foremost the primary qualification of a shopper is that old real estate maxim: location, location, location. I believe present and future shoppers should keep that very much in mind when trying to decide whether or not certification is for them.

Kay
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Paula Kutka
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1671 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  12:12:28 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
When I went for the Gold I had shops already. There have been several companies where my Gold Certification helped me to get in the door to get assignments. The most recent one when I applied the contact emailed back and said, "We want Silver and Gold shoppers. Send me your contact info and I will get you set up for getting assignments." This was not a Sassie user ms company.

I did two shops for this ms company today, two last Tuesday, five last Saturday, and seven prior to that. I talked to another shopper that had been telling me to apply with that company and I had been dragging my feet. She is not certified and got an email that said Silver and Gold would get the first crack at the jobs.

The jobs I get from this company alone will probably pay for my air fare to Anaheim and possibly more depending on what they have as far as assignment load. If I had gone to the Gold Certification in the first three months of shopping I probably would have thought I'd fallen into a gold mine. More advanced shoppers will already know more of the things being said because they have just been at it longer and have had more experiences to draw upon from the field.

Paula
Gold Certified shopping the Houston/Galveston area and IAH Airport since 2002
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Tucson Sarah
Valued Contributor

Tucson, AZ
USA
138 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  2:52:02 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I had said that I live in an area where there are many more experienced shoppers than I, like Dee and Vicky, and now they are Gold certified. I did get silver certified a few weeks ago, and perhaps, coincidentally, since I have been sick, my job offers decreased.
I see the meetings as a wonderful place to network. Coming from a very structured world, where life and death was the outcome of knowledge, nursing, certification in one's specialty meant a lot. And one had to have a certain number of years as a registered nurse, and in the specialty. And continuing education hours. So, to me, I see certification as something more and different than it is in MSing. Although the gold shoppers who post appear to be excellent shoppers. I believe that there should be some kind of objective qualifier before one could be gold certified. And going to what is now the gold certification workshops seems to be mandatory to be gold certified.
Just some thoughts here.
Ok, now I have to figure out how to change my signature to include my silver certification.

Sarah in Tucson
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ShawnaL
Star Contributor

USA
492 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  3:38:56 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I got Silver Certified right off the bat and have been busy for a year now. Still not sure if I would have gotten so many initial offers without my certification. I would love to go to the Gold workshop if I can ever get a full day away from 'real' life. I don't see how I could get more shops with Gold certification, but the experience will be a good one no matter what.


Shawna
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Barbara N.CA
Star Contributor

San Francisco, CA
USA
2397 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  6:15:21 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I did my first shop in January of 2003, and got Gold certified in June of 2003. I got Silver certified so that I could become Gold certified. The Silver certification was too easy, and was mostly common sense for people who already had shopping experience, I thought. I understand the Silver certification is more difficult now than when I took it. That's good.

Now -- the Gold certification. That was a totally different story.

I learned quite a bit during the workshop, perhaps because I had been shopping for only five months when I attended. I thought Cathy was an excellent trainer. She reinforced concepts I already knew, introduced new perspectives and nuances to things of which I only had a beginner’s understanding, and taught me things I had not thought of but was glad to discover. The interactions with company representatives were invaluable to me not from a networking standpoint (because I was terrible at networking and tried to avoid it), but because they afforded shoppers the rare opportunity to get feedback directly, instantly, and from multiple perspectives (from schedulers and company representatives). I was very satisfied with the workshop -- long before I appreciated how much of a positive impact it would have in terms of getting more and better shop offers.

For me, Gold certification was not just a one-time educational experience. Because of my Gold status, I have been offered different types of shops that have allowed me the opportunity to continue to learn. I think experience is a great way to learn. With every new (to me) type of shop, I learn something new. I am still learning something new regularly. Gold certification has opened a world of learning opportunities for me, and I expect it will continue to expose me to different types of shopping experiences.

I would like to think that, even without certification, I would have eventually built a reputation and relationships with companies so that I would have access to the same or similar opportunities. However, I was glad there was a way for me to speed up the process. For me, Gold certification has been very much worth it. I have no regrets.

I have heard, from different sources, that the Gold workshop is constantly getting better. I am considering, but have not decided, whether I will attend the Gold workshop that will be held a day before the Anaheim conference. On one hand, I would love to experience the workshop again. On the other hand, I will be driving and may be too tired to attend.

Barbara
MSPA Gold Shopper since June, 2003.
MSPA 2005 "Go To" Shopper
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Shannon Marinelli
Contributor

Canyon Lake, Texas
USA
86 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  9:52:44 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I just got through the silver certification for MSPA. Yes, the test has 3 parts to it. It was mostly what I had already learned. Since I am a newbie, and only doing part time shops for the last month, I have only found a few good jobs and had problems with a couple. Operator error, as they used to say in the factories. But I learned a good lesson from that one.
I have read the threads on some of the debates going on about this. It seems about 65% to 35% for certification. How is having a silver certificate going to bring me better shops? I will let you know. You still have to do your homework and search the boards for the jobs if you do not get the emails that come from some of the shopping companies. You have to apply, apply, apply to the companies listed on the sites that you feel will be worth the time it takes to search. The piece on applying for over 200 companies put me on notice about seeing how serious I am about all of this. It has taken some concerted effort to get this far. I work to apply to the companies I read have good reps and pay in a short time frame. Sometimes you just take a leap of faith that one will pay when they should if you like what the shop entails.
I want to hear from those who have just gotten their silver certifiaction. Did they see any jump in shops they are awarded? How many companies did they apply to before they got certified and did the numbers jump from before or get worse. this is a problem if the shopping companies really are going to put the squeeze for their shoppers to get the gold. Why? You learn from doing the job and researching the boards/forums. I can understand that they want to network with the shoppers themselves. It gives you more confidence in placing a high end shop with one if they can picture meeting you.
Being gold just means you have more info from the schedulers and very good shoppers, themselves. This is worth the price of the ticket to get in. It all depends on what you want to invest in yourself and your 'job'. I want to do the best shops around. If that means going to one of these workshops in the future, and I still want to seriously continue working the field, I definetly will go to it. I just didn't get the chance because of work conflicts. Also didn't have the silver certification yet.
Let ya'll know how it works for me in the next few weeks!

Shannon M
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