When it comes to becoming a mystery shopper, most people have two primary questions: How do I get started and how much will I get paid? With regard to earnings, as Linsey Knerl wrote on WiseBread.com, mystery shopping isn’t like working a traditional job. You’re essentially an independent contractor and only get paid for every completed assignment. Also, according to the Mystery Shop Coach website, there are some jobs that only pay reimbursements on required purchases and not a flat rate, as is typically customary on secret shopper jobs.

Needless to say, there is no single answer to the question of how much does mystery shopping pay.

As a general baseline, pay for secret shops generally fall between $7-$20 for those just starting out. Experienced secret shoppers have the ability to earn jobs with higher pay rates and there will be times, depending on how well you perform in general, where mystery shopping companies will offer special assignments and projects.

However, if an assignment isn’t completed correctly, a mystery shopper can put his or her paycheck at risk. Going to the wrong location, failing to interact with the right associate and not evaluating the required details of the shop are all common ways to potentially lose a check. If you forget assignment-related tasks such as leaving the wrong tip amount at a restaurant, or commit the ultimate secret shopping sin, blowing your cover, these things can also keep you from getting paid.

As a second source of income, it is entirely possible for an individual to make an extra $5,000 to $10,000 per year working as a part-time secret shopper. But how much or how little you make is entirely up to you depending on how many assignments you work and how satisfactorily you complete them.