There are dozens of ways to make extra money using your smartphone, but the Field Agent® app is one of the best I’ve encountered.
I first heard of Field Agent a year ago when I interviewed the company’s CEO, Rick West, for an article on how technology is changing Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Prior to writing that article, I downloaded the Field Agent app and gave it a try. After using the app fairly intensively in the past 45 days, I can definitively say it’s a good way to make extra money using your smartphone, especially after you gain a little experience doing Field Agent “jobs.”
With that in mind, following are a series of tips and suggestions that should shorten your learning curve and help you maximize your earnings.
What is Field Agent?
Field Agent can best be described as a “mystery shopper app,” one that enables consumers to use their smartphones to deliver information to client companies that are looking for data about their products and services. In return, users are compensated for the valuable intelligence they provide via cash payments.
Field Agent Tip #1: Act Naturally When Shopping
Most Field Agent “jobs” are commissioned by retailers or by companies whose products and services are offered in retail stores. So my first tip is: act naturally. In other words, act like you normally would when you’re out shopping.
In terms of answering the questions, that’s pretty easy to do discreetly. After all, people are always looking at their smartphones these days, so looking down at your phone and typing a few words doesn’t often attract attention.
Most jobs also require you to take one or more photos; that can be a little more difficult to do discreetly, but if you exercise a little patience that should rarely be a problem.
For what it’s worth, no one has yet questioned me about my actions while in the midst of a Field Agent job, but it certainly could happen, particularly if the job takes an extended period of time to complete.
On its FAQ page, Field Agent says that “if you are approached by an employee while doing a job, it is really up to you what to do. You could tell [the employee] that you are taking photos of a product to get a friend or family member’s opinion…. But if they ask you to stop, then you should comply politely. If you are ever confronted by a store employee, please represent yourself and Field Agent well by being respectful and polite.”
In certain cases, it’s very possible that you will be confronted, though. I once saw a job where Field Agent provided a Letter of Authorization (LOA) that could be shown to the store manager in the event of a confrontation.
Field Agent Tip #2: Reserving Jobs
A big part of being successful and efficient using Field Agent is managing your job opportunities.
One issue to consider is whether you want to reserve a job before you are on site. If you know you are going to be (or can be) at a particular store or location within the allowed time frame (typically one, two or three hours), you can secure the right to do a job before you arrive. The downside of reserving a job before you are on site is that you might arrive only to find conditions that make the job difficult to complete—or perhaps not worth your time and effort.
For example, I once reserved a job that required taking a handful of photos outside a Walmart. When I arrived I found a tractor-trailer truck parked in front of the area that needed to be photographed, a frustrating development.
On the other hand, some jobs—especially those at supermarkets or grocery stores—are likely to be reserved within minutes of being posted. So if you want to do those jobs, you’ll need to reserve them right away.
My advice is to try to avoid reserving jobs well in advance unless you feel the job will be taken by another agent if you wait. It shouldn’t take long before you get a good feel for which jobs remain readily available and which are reserved almost immediately.
A few other related points:
- You can have multiple jobs in your queue at the same time.
- You’ll often find the same job offered at different locations across a limited geographic area; once you do a job the first time, it’s often efficient to repeat that same job at other nearby locations (as opposed to moving on to a “new” job you’re not yet familiar with).
Bonus tip: Be wary of accepting jobs you’ve seen in the app that have disappeared (because another agent has accepted the job), but then reappear hours later. If Field Agent rejects a job submission it will typically re-open the job shortly afterwards, and a job that reappears could mean that the previous Agent’s work was rejected. If another agent had difficultly completing the job, you are likely to have a problem successfully completing the job as well.
How much do Field Agent jobs pay?
Field Agent Jobs typically pay between two and eight dollars, though most jobs pay between three and six dollars. If Field Agent is having trouble finding an agent to complete a job the compensation sometimes rises over time. For example, Field Agent may offer four dollars in compensation for a job that was initially offered for three dollars.
While a few bucks might not sound like much, a job—or multiple jobs at the same location—might take you just a few minutes at a store you were planning to shop at anyway.
Also, in time, select “bonus opportunities” might become available to you. For example, if you complete a pre-determined number of audits or surveys with a particular retailer, you might earn a cash bonus for meeting certain thresholds going forward.
In which countries does Field Agent operate?
As of today, there are opportunities for field agents in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Romania and the United Kingdom.
How long does it take for Field Agent to review and approve your work?
Oftentimes Field Agent will review your photos and answers within a matter of minutes or hours, especially if the job is completed on a weekday during business hours.
Typically your work is reviewed within 24 hours, although I have seen cases where it takes five or six days before work is approved (or rejected).
What happens if your work is rejected by Field Agent?
You will receive an email with “job submission” in the subject line and a message telling you that Field Agent is unable to approve your submission—and why. Of course, you don’t get paid, so the expected payment is not added to your account balance.
For what it’s worth, I have experienced a 96 percent acceptance rate. On one occasion, my work was rejected because I incorrectly framed a photo (my mistake). But typically when I’ve had work rejected it’s been due to circumstances beyond my control.
For example, I once did four separate audits of battery displays—with the same retailer at multiple locations. At some locations the retailer had not placed the “new” displays on the sales floor. At the two locations where I found at least one of the new displays, my work was accepted. At the two stores where there were no “new” displays my work was rejected (because I didn’t provide the required photos of the “new” displays). In a situation like that, there’s little you can do to be successful.
Bonus tip: By the way, Field Agent does provide an email address at the bottom of their rejection email in case you’d like to appeal their decision and provide additional information. I haven’t yet pursued an appeal; my sense is that there are probably few instances where it’s worth your time to press your case.
Also, if completing a job is in any way a challenge, you’ll definitely want to highlight the circumstances for Field Agent when you submit the job. (The last question before you hit the ‘submit’ button always gives you an opportunity to explain your experience or relate any challenges). If you do a good job of relating any difficulties you had, it maximizes the chances of your work getting approved.
To cite an extreme example, I once accepted a job auditing the menu at a fast food restaurant. When I arrived at the location I discovered the restaurant had burned to the ground. So I took a photo of what remained of the building and explained the circumstances. My “work” was accepted.
How long does it take to get paid by Field Agent?
As soon as each “job” is accepted by Field Agent, the compensation is added to your account balance and you can “Cash Out” (direct deposit to your bank account) at any time.
Is the income you earn from Field Agent taxed or tax free?
Field Agent is not required to report your income to the IRS if you earn less than $600 a year. And Field Agent does not initially require you to fill out a W-9.
But if you reach $450 in earnings in a year, Field Agent will add a “Required” job opportunity to your “Find Jobs” display (“We need you to fill out a W-9”). At that point you can submit your completed W-9 via snail mail, fax or electronic delivery.
As soon as you reach the threshold of $550 in earnings, Field Agent will stop showing you available jobs until you submit a W-9.
Field Agent Job Statistics
Within the Field Agent app is a Statistics tab, where you can see all the jobs in which your work has been accepted (green) or rejected (red), as well as those where review is pending (black). There is also a running count of the total number of jobs you have accepted and the total number you have successfully completed.
There are two reasons why a job doesn’t get “completed.”
The first is that your work has been rejected.
The second is that you reserved a job but didn’t complete it within the time allotted.
Bonus tip: “Butt dialing” can be an issue with the Field Agent app. I have unwittingly “accepted” a handful of jobs that I didn’t intend to accept, only learning about them after the time limit to complete the job had already expired. So try to avoid keeping the app open when you aren’t using it.
Ideally, you don’t want to accept any job you have no intention of completing, because you’re (temporarily) taking the work away from another agent who may want the job.
More significantly, jobs that aren’t successfully completed—either because your work was rejected or because you failed to complete the job—decrease your “Agent Score.” (I’m not yet sure of the significance of or importance of your Agent Score; I plan to post an update to this article if and when I figure it out). After I completed my first job my Agent Score was 86; currently it’s over 200.
What are the best or easiest Field Agent jobs? And what are the worst or most difficult jobs?
This is subjective. A job that might be easy for one agent might be a pain for another and vice-versa.
For example, some jobs require you to interact with a salesperson or store manager. Others might require you to make a video. If you don’t want to interact with a salesperson or appear in a video clip, you won’t want to accept that type of job.
With that in mind, though, the general category in which a job appears can tell you a lot. So following is a brief review of all the different categories I have encountered in the Field Agent app.
These jobs require what Field Agent describes as “an extreme attention to detail,” and “all instructions must be followed exactly” for you to get paid for one of these jobs. In my experience these job opportunities are few and far between so it’s difficult to assess what makes them extra difficult.
In general, though, the ability to follow specific instructions and excellent attention to detail are both necessary traits to have if you want to be successful with Field Agent.
Walmart Customer Service Jobs
With Field Agent and Walmart® both based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, it’s not a surprise that Walmart has become a big client for Field Agent. There are arguably more Field Agent jobs available at Walmart than any other retailer. And Walmart Customer Service Jobs are commonly available—at least in my city.
In a nutshell, completing a Walmart Customer Service job typically requires you to take several photos inside the Walmart in question. It also requires interacting with a handful of Walmart associates and one store manager and answering questions about those interactions. The first time you complete a Walmart customer service job it’s a little onerous and time consuming but once you understand the feedback that Field Agent/Walmart are looking for, these jobs can be a straightforward way of making extra money—especially if you were already planning a trip to the Walmart in question.
Field Agent Bonus Opportunities
Once you become an established Field Agent user you may be provided the opportunity to earn cash bonuses. For example, Field Agent currently offers bonuses for successfully completing Walmart customer service audits (CSAs) and Walmart [grocery] pickup surveys. That is, Field Agent currently offers a $10 cash bonus after you successfully complete five of these surveys, with the cash bonuses rising from there.
As the name implies, Field Agent hopes to get the jobs listed in this category completed as soon as possible. From my experience, these jobs appear relatively infrequently and typically require same day completion. In other respects they are like any other Field Agent job.
Rental Property Photos
These jobs require you to capture exterior photos of rental complexes and need to be completed during daylight hours. Typically they also ask you to write a short (three sentence or more) review of the property, which presumably is posted online with the photos you take.
In the future, Field Agent says it may offer jobs where agents pose as prospective tenants at apartment complexes and other rental properties.
A mystery shopping job is exactly what it sounds like; that is, you interact with one or more associates at a store or retail location, posing as a potential customer. For example, a recent job offered the opportunity to mystery shop for mobile phone service at the retail stores of a major cell service provider.
Buy & Try
A Buy & Try Field Agent job is exactly what it sounds like; you purchase a specific product at a retailer, use it for a prescribed period of time, and then answer questions about your experience with the product in question.
Field Agent Scavenger Hunts ask you to find specific products and then answer questions/take pictures about those products and their placement in stores. These may be non-food or food items (like cookies, refrigerated juices, soft drinks and the like). Assuming you don’t already have the product in question at your home, Field Agent notes where the product in question may be found. Most often you’ll be looking in national chain supermarkets, grocery stores or drug stores.
From my experience, these are, by far, the most difficult Field Agent jobs to complete because:
- The product descriptions offered by Field Agent aren’t necessarily descriptive enough to help you find the specific product, and it’s usually very difficult to find the exact product/size in question.
Most importantly, you need to check the UPC code on the packaging of the item you are looking for; if the UPC code is not an exact match, you don’t have the right item.
A Purchase Required Field Agent job asks you to mystery shop and purchase something as part of the job. Typically it’s a product that retails for less than ten dollars and you get reimbursed for the purchase. In some cases, though, you are not reimbursed for the purchase, so you should only make the purchase if it’s something you need or use (or it’s something you can return).
Personally, I stay away from “purchase required”jobs; even though you are reimbursed, the money is paid to you as income, which is irrelevant if you earn less than $600 a year from Field Agent. But if you earn more than $600 the reimbursement amount appears to be taxed as if it’s income, which is hardly desirable.
Last but not least, Field Agent “ticket jobs” do not pay cash; successfully completing one of these jobs earns you a ticket into the company’s monthly drawing. (When I last checked the prize for winning the random drawing was $100.)
In my estimation, ticket jobs aren’t worth your time; if you want to be cynical about ticket jobs, they are a way for the company to collect (more) data on you without paying any compensation.
A typical ticket job might ask you about your living situation or kitchen appliances or your shopping habits, to name but three examples. But you might want to complete one ticket job per month so you’re entered into Field Agent’s monthly drawing.
I hope you’ve found the above information helpful. If you have any related comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them below.