Product testers, usually hired by marketing firms for companies launching new products, get to evaluate and provide feedback on items before they hit the shelves. The best perk of being a product tester is getting to try out new goods before anyone else and keeping them when you're done. Most firms consider the product itself as payment enough, but some marketing panels may also offer monetary compensation.
Depending on the type of product, you can do testing at home, or a marketing firm may ask you to come to a location and participate in a panel. Most marketing websites and consumer panels try to match you to the demographic to which they're selling, so you'll typically test products that appeal to you. If you're a parent, you might investigate baby items and toys. If you're really into makeup, you might get free lines of makeup to try out. Then you'll fill out a survey, talk to a marketing team or, if you're a social media mogul, post your reviews of the products online. We chose 10 cool product tester jobs we found for you to check out. Keep on reading!
Video game testers can try out games either on site at the developer's headquarters or at home with their own system. Some companies hire testers as paid positions, while others simply offer their fans the opportunity to test new games. Microsoft regularly invites the general public to sign up for studies in its Washington state headquarters. If selected for a study, you answer questions, play some new games and come home with software in your pocket as compensation [source: Microsoft].
The biggest qualification is that you should be a fan of video games and understand how they work. Testers must be task-oriented, observant and willing to play a game over and over to check for certain details. In the case of Microsoft (and likely other big game companies), even kids under 12 can sign up to test new products.
If you're the type of person who prowls the aisles of Sephora on a regular basis, testing new cosmetics could be a dream job. Many makeup and cosmetics companies look for consumers to try out new products. Check out their corporate websites, especially if you're located near a company's headquarters.
Some fashion and beauty magazines also offer contests to be a reader tester. Look in your favorite magazine, fill out a survey and you might find a box of cosmetics at your door just waiting for your opinion. Companies want to know how you experience the makeup — is it good value for the price; how does it look on the face or lips; is it durable, easy to apply, and with a good color selection? You'll get to try out new products for yourself, as well as be a part of putting the "finishing touches" on makeup products for consumers everywhere.
The Nike company offers athletes all over the United States the chance to test out its footwear. This testing happens either on-site with one day of trial or at home with several weeks or even months of testing. Potential testers fill out an online application and choose the category in which they wish to participate, then Nike contacts them to let them know whether they've been accepted to the program.
Nike is serious about its testing program, as the running shoes are not yet on the market and the field is very competitive. Nike can remove you for not returning reviews in a punctual manner or for violating confidentiality by posting pictures of a product online or wearing the footwear to a public racing event without permission. You also must immediately return the footwear after testing, so the designers at Nike can examine it for damage or wear and tear.
Consumer taste testers sit on panels and sample different foods, beverages and snacks. Some companies use marketing firms to set up taste panels, and some set up their own consumer taste-test programs and call on their consumer database when needed. As a taste tester, you can give your opinions on-site or at home. For example, the McCormick food company keeps a database of signed-up consumers, so they know whom to contact when they want to test foods on a specific demographic, and pays its participants [source: McCormick].
Taste testers help companies fine-tune their products. You taste a sample then answer some simple questions about the experience. You might be asked if a product is too salty, too sweet, too spicy, too bland, visually appealing — just about anything you can think of. Of course, if you have food allergies like nuts, soy, gluten, eggs or other common ingredients, being a consumer taste tester isn't a safe job for you.
The National Consumer Panel (NCP) is a consumer insight joint venture. One of the companies involved is Nielsen of the famous Nielsen family television surveys. It supplies consumer behavior to companies so the companies can make marketing decisions about their products, prices and inventory. If chosen as a panelist for NCP, you're not paid in cash or products, but you do earn points that you can later cash in for merchandise or cash cards.
Once you're an NCP panelist, you'll receive a hand scanner or (more likely) access to a mobile app. Then you use that app or scanner every time you go shopping. Scan the bar code of every object you purchase, and record where you shopped, how many items you bought and other relevant information. In addition to earning gift points, panelists also get automatic entry into monthly raffles and discounts at some retail stores [source: NCP].
Part of being a parent is finding the right products for your picky kid. Unfortunately, another part of being a parent for many people is not having the money to try out every single variation. However, if you sign up on the myriad product testing sites geared toward mommy bloggers and parents, you'll receive free samples in the mail just about every day.
One parent product tester opportunity is the Canadian company Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA). PTPA tests and reviews children's products and gives the highest-rated ones its seal of approval. If you live in North America, you can sign up to be a product tester and receive free products as well as access to contests and giveaways [source: PTPA]. After you receive and use a product, you review and rate it for PTPA, which gives that information to the manufacturer for its marketing teams. The site also lists reviewed products for consumers, so they can see which products received the highest ratings.
This product tester job is an actual, paying job. Nice work if you can get it, a professional beer taster works for a specific brewery and travels to bars and pubs and ensures that its beer tastes the way it's supposed to.
This means making sure it's being stored and served correctly, as well as kept at the right temperature. The technical name for this job is "beer quality technician," and the job doesn't just entail tasting the beer. It also includes troubleshooting and pinpointing any issues with the keg lines or coolers [source: Merz]. Because of the technical aspects, this can be an on-call, 24-hour-a-day job. Beer tasters check their products for the perfect pour, the right clarity, taste and aroma. And if the beer isn't up to snuff, they can ask a pub to stop serving the beer until the problem is resolved.
Another full-time, paid job is a luxury car test driver. This means taking the car onto a private course and giving it a workout. Test car drivers are used by companies like BMW, Porsche and Ferrari. If you can't afford a high-end car of your own, this is the next best thing!
Test car drivers should have advanced technical knowledge of automobile mechanics and engineering, as part of their job is reporting performance from nose to tailpipe and many cars are still prototypes. Driving tests measure acceleration, braking, high-speed performance, road performance, comfort, visibility and drivability and are done in conjunction with mechanical engineers [source: Inside Jobs]. You can usually find these jobs at the car manufacturer.
Here's a product tester job you can literally sleep through. Some luxury bed companies conduct sleep surveys for feedback on how to get a good night's sleep. One company in England hired a cash-strapped student to sleep in its beds for a month and write about her experience [source: Telegraph].
She spent eight hours a day in bed under different conditions, experiencing variations in lighting and temperature. She also imbibed different amounts of alcohol or caffeine to experience other sleeping conditions. How do you get a job like this? In this particular instance, the student answered a call for applicants, and her writing skills gave her the edge over the hundreds of others who also wanted to sleep for cash.
We've saved the best for last — a job testing out waterslides. A waterslide tester visits resorts to try out new water features to ensure they're working safely and correctly, and above all, are fun. As a tester, you check off items like height, water flow, speed and landing, making sure they're all up to the quality of the resort's reputation.
This job requires traveling around the world as your company opens different resorts, but that's just another perk. One waterslide tester says the worst part of his job is testing the slides and flumes in cold weather [source: Daily Mail]. That may be a downside, but it's not too bad, considering you're testing a product that brings fun and excitement to families on vacation everywhere.
HowStuffWorks looks at the difference between the salary history and the salary requirements question in job interviews and how to answer them.
Author's note: 10 Amazing Product Tester Jobs
These jobs sure sound pretty fun. Be warned, though, for most of them, you can't just walk in the door and ask for a job. For many, you might have to work your way up to the cool stuff. These positions require a high level of detail and note-taking. Still, to me, it seems pretty worth it. I'm addicted to naps, and the bed tester job sure sounds like my ultimate dream career! Pun intended, of course.
More Great Links
- Daily Mail. "Is this the most fun job in the world? The man who travels the globe testing holiday resort waterslides." Dec. 30, 2008. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1103046/Is-fun-job-world-The-man-travels-globe-testing-holiday-resort-waterslides.html
- Inside Jobs. "Car Test Driver." 2013. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.insidejobs.com/careers/car-test-driver
- McCormick. "Consumer Testing." 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.mccormickcorporation.com/consumer-testing.aspx
- Merz, Theo. "A day in the life of a professional beer taster." The Telegraph. Aug. 29, 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11046041/A-day-in-the-life-of-a-professional-beer-taster.html
- Microsoft. "Playtest." 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/playtest/default.aspx
- National Consumer Panel. "How It Works." 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://join.ncponline.com/how
- Nielsen. "Nielsen Families." 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/about-us/nielsen-families.html
- NIKE. "Footwear." 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) https://producttesting.nike.com/footwear/7055
- Palermo, Elizabeth. "How to Become a Video Game Tester." Business News Daily. April 2, 2013. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4259-how-to-become-a-video-game-tester.html
- Parent Tested Parent Approved. "PTPA - The Endorsement Parents Look For." 2014. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://ptpa.com
- The Schwan Food Company. "Become a Taste Tester." 2009. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.schwanstastetesting.com/learnmore.htm
- Self. "Do You Love Beauty Products? Test Them For SELF!" Oct. 14, 2013. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.self.com/flash/beauty-blog/2013/10/beauty-2014-healthy-beauty-award-tester/
- The Telegraph. "Student paid to sleep in designer beds." Aug. 10, 2009. (Nov. 29, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6001095/Student-paid-to-sleep-in-designer-beds.html