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Author's Note: Can you get paid to test-drive cars?
We focused on mystery shopping for this article, because, not to be trite, mystery shopping is something of a mystery to a lot of us. As we explained, though, the thrill of test-driving a car as part of a mystery shopping assignment is often a bit overstated. For job seekers who believe that driving new cars is a calling, there are a few other avenues that might be worth considering. Writing for a car magazine or an automotive blog seems like an obvious choice, but the reality is a lot different than the daydream. For every luxury, exotic or sports car that's offered up, there are plenty of plain Jane sedans, budget compacts, and other even less enticing prospects. But, they've all got to be tested fairly, and each model has to be considered from the perspective of someone who might actually consider buying it. Keep in mind that the best and most experienced writers get offered the best press trips and most exciting test cars, and the pickings for a rookie get even slimmer. Another route to test-driving cars for a living is to get a job at a manufacturer or OEM, driving new and prototype cars long before they're ready for the public. These tests occur on privately owned test tracks, and only sometimes out in public, but usually in secluded areas with extreme conditions, like the desert. See those camouflaged spy shots on blogs and in the magazines? Someone's behind the wheel, right? Get a solid education in engineering or automotive design, as well as some professional driver training, and that could be you!
- BestMark. "Take a test drive as a mystery car shopper this summer." June 10, 2014. (Dec. 23, 2014) http://www.bestmark.com/news/Shoppers/articles/Take_a_test_drive_as_a_mystery_car_shopper_this_summer/631351.aspx
- Evarts, Eric. "Secret shopper buys a luxurious, three-row Infiniti JX35 SUV for the test fleet." Consumer Reports. June 14, 2012. (Dec. 22, 2014) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2012/06/secret-shopper-buys-a-luxurious-three-row-2013-infiniti-jx35-suv-for-the-test-fleet/index.htm
- Forbes. "How I Made $14,000 A Year Mystery Shopping." March 1, 2013. (Dec. 22, 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/03/01/how-i-made-14000-a-year-mystery-shopping/
- J.D. Power. "Automotive Mystery Shopping." 2014. (Dec. 22, 2014) http://www.jdpower.com/solutions/automotive-mystery-shopping
- J.D. Power. "Mystery Shopping the Customer Experience." 2014. (Dec. 22, 2014) http://www.jdpower.com/solutions/mystery-shopping-customer-experience
- Mystery Shopper Magazine. "Car Dealership Assignments." (Dec. 22, 2014) http://www.mysteryshoppermagazine.com/assignments/car-dealership-assignments/
- Person to Person Quality. "Test Drive Mystery Shops." (Dec. 23, 2014) http://www.persontopersonquality.com/test_drive_shops.htm
- Read, Richard. "Secret Shoppers Give Mercedes-Benz Top Marks For Customer Experience." The Car Connection. July 13, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2014) http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1047126_secret-shoppers-give-mercedes-benz-top-marks-for-customer-experience