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 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
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Aileen M.
Star Contributor

Naperville, IL
USA
410 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2007 :  11:10:06 AM  Visit Aileen M.'s Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am silver certified and, while I don't notice the quality of my assignments increasing, I did notice that I was approved for many more assignments. I am looking forward to becoming Gold certified and hope that there is a Gold Certification session in '08 for Chicago!
I think that certification is worth it and important, but that you also need to have the experience and talent to back it up. That being said, I also think that certification does not automatically make you a better shopper. It does, however, show the scheduler that you are willing to put forth some extra efforts.

Aileen Mullee
General Manager
Ann Michaels and Associates
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.Erin Steffanie Peterson
Inactive

Seattle, WA
USA
42 Posts

Posted - 10/18/2007 :  02:04:28 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
The value of certification is an individual thing. What works for me won't necessarily work for anyone else. You know those crummy shops that everyone here seems to complain about, but they always get snapped up instantly? That's another great example. Obviously, those shops are working out for someone, just like certification is working for some of the shoppers on this forum. On the other hand, there are plenty of shoppers who are doing just fine without being certified. The beautiful thing is that each and every one of us is correct, because it's a personal decision that we've all made to suit our own needs.

For an MSC to automatically give preference to someone, based only on the fact that they have certification... I have my opinions about that. However, at the end of the day, it's up to each company to determine what works for them. It's also up to me to determine what's best for my own situation. End of story. Really. That's all there is to it.

I'd like to see the spitting contest end, in regard to certification. Like I said, what works for some will not work for others and, as independant contractors, we're entitled to do what's best for ourselves. There are more important issues facing us all. Shopper fees are steadily declining. Reports are getting longer and narratives are becoming more detailed, with no pay increases. Right now, someone's devising even more insane criteria for shops and coming up with questions that none of us want to be forced to ask a store employee. Don't deny it. We all know that it's true.

Rather than beat each other up over who's certified, who's not, who thinks it's a good idea, who thinks it's a scam and on and on and on, maybe we should start trying to make MS'ing better for all of us. Maybe we should see if there's some way that we can combat the ever declining shop fees. Maybe there's some way that we can get MSC clients to stop adding ridiculous criteria. Maybe we should start trying to help a brother/sister out.

You know, I'm willing to put myself out there and be the first one to do this. If there are interested parties, I'm willing to start a thread with advice to help shoppers improve their writing skills and I'll check in regularly to answer questions. Hopefully other editors and shoppers with great writing skills will help. Hopefully a shopper with great time management skills will start a thread to help others manage their time more effectively. Hopefully someone will start a thread about how to raise shopper fees. It'd be nice to see that happen. Even if it accomplishes nothing, it'll be a lot more productive than watching people argue over something as trivial as certification.

Steffanie
MSPA Silver Certified
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 10/18/2007 :  06:22:47 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I don't see any "spitting" contests going on and I don't see how this is applicable:

"Even if it accomplishes nothing, it'll be a lot more productive than watching people argue over something as trivial as certification."

No one is arguing, they are offering their opinions based on their experiences. Not everyone considers this thread trivial. Your post might be better located in the pet peeves section.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 10/19/2007 :  07:51:12 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I agree with E that sometimes there has been more of a 'heated' debate than a logical one. I think you had a good idea about the tips, however you should've and still can put that in another thread, or even start your own. This thread is for information and/or debate about the worth of MSPA certification.

If you're doing MSing FT then certification is worth it, in that it may put you ahead of the line for some jobs(analogus to front of the line passes at amusement parks). I even saw a job from a sassie site that required silver certification, not that I don't think I couldn't have emailed the scheduler about it(but their loss of a great shopper).

However, if you're doing it pt or as a hobby, unless you're not getting enough jobs, I just don't see the value compared to what you're paying out. (taking into account inflation)

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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.KimSVision
Star Contributor

Orange County, CA
USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 10/19/2007 :  08:39:25 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ChrisT

However, if you're doing it pt or as a hobby, unless you're not getting enough jobs, I just don't see the value compared to what you're paying out.
I think it's all about location. If you live in a large city with hundreds of Gold shoppers, you would need to go Gold, just to be noticed.

If you live in an area, who is badly in need of shoppers, you wouldn't have to be certified at all.

The competition in my area is awful! Many of us had to get a regular job (or two ) and Mystery shop part-time, because the quality shops just aren't there. Sometimes it doesn't help to be certified, especially when there are a thousand Goldies in my area.
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.Stu
Inactive

Williamsburg, VA
USA
42 Posts

Posted - 10/22/2007 :  06:48:49 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I've been told my work is better then some shoppers who are "Gold" certified. There is more then enough work in my area then I could possibly do in a month. Been mystery shopping for over five years now. I am only aware of one company who pays a extra 5.00 fee for gold certified shoppers, and then when in a pinch, will offer the fee to non-certified. Draw your own conclusions.
Actually the majority of companies don't give a hoot if your certified as long as the work is effective.

Stuwart
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PaulaJ
Member

Cordova, TN
USA
39 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2007 :  8:38:36 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I became Gold certified about 6 weeks ago at the Memphis workshop. I have to say it was definitely worth the investment for me. The workshop was different than I thought it was going to be and I really did learn from the experience.

The best part of attending was meeting some of the local shoppers. I didn't have a shopping buddy: but I have one now! And she's been so helpful! We even met for lunch one day last week.

I tend to agree with Kim: location probably makes a huge difference. My shopping area seems to have a TON of shoppers so I think being certified will be an advantage that pays off for me in the long run. I know the month of October has been the best paying month for me since I started. And less than a week ago I received a phone call from a scheduler from my favorite self-assign company offering a bonus for a shop that needed to be completed that day. That's never happened to me before and I've been shopping with them since April. And she also assigned me an additional shop with a very nice bonus that I completed today! I was a very happy camper!!

PaulaJ
MSPA Gold Certified 09/2007
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Aileen M.
Star Contributor

Naperville, IL
USA
410 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2007 :  9:26:51 PM  Visit Aileen M.'s Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stu

Actually the majority of companies don't give a hoot if your certified as long as the work is effective.
I beg to differ. As someone who schedules, if I have two new applicants for a shop and one is certified and the other is not, I'll go with the certified applicant. It might not make a difference once you are an established shopper with the MSP, but it sure does when trying to get your first few assignments.

Aileen Mullee
General Manager
Ann Michaels and Associates
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Mazie
Star Contributor

Forest Grove, OR
USA
468 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2007 :  12:28:47 PM  Visit Mazie's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Certification matters to me when I schedule someone's first assignment as well, but after that it depends on performance.

Gold Certified shopper, editor, editor trainer.
Shopping the Portland Metro area, willing to travel.
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Tom - OH
Valued Contributor

OH
USA
206 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  1:34:14 PM  Visit Tom - OH's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I can not prove that the Certification process has produced more assignments for me. However, what I learned by going through the Silver and Gold Certification process has definitely made me a better mystery shopper.

Sincerely,

Tom
MSPA Gold Certified
Coast to Coast Scheduling Services
E-mail: Tom@ctcss.com
CTCSS Job Board: www.ctcss.com
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Rachel B.
Valued Contributor

USA
198 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  2:27:06 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I hope it's worth it, because I JUST NOW got Silver certified.

One thing I would like to see is the ability to get reimbursed or credited for the $ spent on a Silver when you get your Gold.

However...and correct me if I'm wrong, but maybe the increase in work that one would get as a Gold shopper makes up for it? That's what I'm hoping, anyway!

Rachel
Silver Certified pw4vpo
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PamBam
Star Contributor

Schaumburg, IL
USA
317 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2007 :  9:58:44 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I've had the opportunity to look at this backwards. I'm silver certified but when I changed my email address, I could no longer use my MSPA certification code. I did apply for a new one but haven't had time to go change my profile on 100+ websites, so I am appearing as uncertified now. Haven't noticed the number of offers going down.

That said, I want to go gold just to have a fun day and be around other people who don't think I'm slightly crazy to be msing. :-)

MSPA Gold Certified
Shopping domestic and international locations since 2003
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.Stu
Inactive

Williamsburg, VA
USA
42 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2007 :  04:29:59 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Soon everyone will be able to "get gold" by buying a CD. Then what ? Everyone will be "gold". What's the point ? I'll save my money and use it for reimbursement shops.

Stuwart
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OTeixeira
Apprentice

NC
USA
1 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2007 :  11:36:10 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
My favorite part is that they tell you Gold is great because of all the networking. Is there networking built into the CD?


Orlando
Silver, and have not noticed any difference

Orlando
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Aimee G
Star Contributor

USA
575 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2007 :  06:54:07 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I don't know where to post this exactly and I'm too afraid to just make a new topic. I hope it's OK to put it here.

When will the 2008 schedule for Gold workshops be coming out? It does seem like something this big would be scheduled way in advance, but I can't find anything at the website. I would really like to do this because I've already seen the difference it made when I went silver... although I must admit I don't feel that was much of an achievement. Anyway, when do they usually post the schedule for each new year? Thanks!

Aimee
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KSSLorri
Star Contributor

Cincinnati, Ohio
USA
603 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2007 :  07:05:54 AM  Visit KSSLorri's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Here are the ones we know about so far. They are in the process now of booking cities/hotels and the announcement should be on the MSPA website by early January:

February 16
Austin, Texas

February 23
Orlando, Florida

March 1
San Diego, California

March 8
Phoenix, Arizona

Lorri (Kern) Hsu
KSS International, Inc.
KSSLorri@kernscheduling.com
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Aimee G
Star Contributor

USA
575 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2007 :  08:12:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thank you kindly! I thought I saw a post a few weeks ago that mentioned one in Atlanta early in the year, but either the post was never really there or it went away. I guess if it doesn't come to Atlanta anytime soon, Orlando is not too terribly far to drive.

Aimee
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Judy in VA
Star Contributor

VA
USA
836 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2007 :  2:04:41 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by OTeixeira

My favorite part is that they tell you Gold is great because of all the networking. Is there networking built into the CD?
Actually, the reason for the DVD certification is so that those who are in remote parts of the country (i.e. Alaska) will have the opportunity to become certified, because there is a slim chance an actual workshop would be within reasonable driving distance. Odds are, if the shoppers are that far away, physical networking would be an issue as well. Volition is a great networking tool!

MSPA 2007 Shopper of the Year
MSPA Gold Certified
Specializing in recorded and unrecorded phone shops
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2007 :  06:28:39 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I found the chance to interact with other shoppers, schedulers, editors and MS account reps even more valuable than the workshops. Perhaps that is why the CD certification will be different from the workshop certification?

I am going to try to "drop in" to MSC offices as I tavel in future, just to introduce myself to schedulers with whom I have worked and to schmooze a bit. Having been face-to-face with schedulers from on local company has certainly paid big dividends.


Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2007 :  08:00:42 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
There will probably always be people who look for some way to knock the certification. That's ok. I think it is great that folks who are in remote areas will have the opportunity to view the certification in this form. I do wonder if it will be valued the same as the in person workshops and if it will cost the same????

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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