How to Become a Mortgage Loan Originator

Becoming a mortgage loan originator can be a rewarding career choice for individuals interested in the real estate and finance industries. Mortgage loan originators are vital in helping individuals and families secure financing for their dream homes. Suppose you have a passion for helping people achieve their homeownership goals and possess strong interpersonal and financial skills. In that case, this article will guide you on how to become a successful mortgage loan originator.

What is a mortgage loan officer?

The mortgage loan officer (MLO) assists clients in determining whether they are eligible for home loans. These individuals provide home loan guidance and advice and often work for mortgage companies and banks. They also inform them about the available loan types and interest rates.

What does a mortgage loan officer do?

Mortgage loan officers have the following primary responsibilities:

  • Obtaining all financial information about the borrower, including details about income, tax information and debts.
  • Offering clients loan options that meet their needs.
  • Advertising, holding seminars, and other methods, identifying future homebuyers.
  • Documenting mortgage transactions in a detailed and factual manner
  • Coordinating with other real estate professionals, including appraisers and underwriters.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of mortgage application information by privacy laws and policies.

You should know these things before getting a license

You need to know many things about mortgage loan officers if you want to become one. Before closing your first loan, let’s take a closer look at what you need to remember.


1. Personal Qualities

Become a mortgage loan officer, where attention to detail is highly valued. You will gather vast amounts of information from potential borrowers, curate it meticulously, and present it to lenders as an MLO. You must handle this information with extreme detail. For most clients, this is the most significant purchase of their lives, so it is key you exhibit a high level of organizational skills. Interacting with diverse groups of people is an essential component of your journey. Word-of-mouth recommendations play a huge role in your career so the key to success is leaving a lasting positive impression.

A dash of real estate knowledge or a willingness to acquire it will benefit you. As an MLO, you must stay on top of the ever-evolving nature of mortgage lending – a desire to continuously learn and grow is important. A mortgage loan originator may be an ideal career choice for someone with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to keep learning and growing.

2. Review Your History

Here’s an inside look at MLOs, where potential borrowers’ delicate financial details are revealed. Through these courageous souls, lending institutions and aspiring borrowers are linked. Both parties have a lot at stake and want the transaction to close. Lenders are interested in the repayment of loans, while borrowers long for their property. MLOs, a trustworthy advisor and partner, ensure both parties are treated fairly.

Your license application will likely be rejected if you fail to meet specific financial requirements, or your criminal history has been tarnished.

  1. Embedded in the web of fraud is a criminal conviction.
  2. A history of poor credit, revealing a tumultuous financial past.
  3. Traces of foreclosure or other substantial unpaid debts haunt your footsteps.
  4. The unfortunate experience of previously having your licensure revoked in other states.

Disclosing as much information as possible on your application is the optimal course of action. There are instances where regulators may extend their human hand to applicants bearing potential red flags. For instance, many states harbor legal exceptions for applicants burdened by unpaid medical debts. Moreover, a criminal conviction unrelated to fraud, such as a DUI, might not necessarily lead to the rejection of your licensure dreams.

3. Research

You might find yourself pondering the age-old question: how long does it take to embark on the path of a loan officer? The answer lies in your own hands. It all hinges on your approach and dedication. Fear not; if you invest your precious time and hard-earned money into the process, you can see it through to completion.

Before delving into the realm of pre-licensure courses, it is crucial to conduct thorough research. The National Mortgage Licensing Service (NMLS), the esteemed guardian of MLOs, holds a ton of invaluable information. The NMLS provides state-specific requirements for licensure, guiding you on your journey to become an MLO.

Take the time to unravel the process of becoming a mortgage loan originator and enter your training with unwavering confidence.

Here’s a glimmer of good news: you do not need to possess a specific degree to go down the MLO path. While many MLOs hail from business, banking, economics, or finance backgrounds, it is not a mandatory requirement.

Many MLOs must obtain licensure through undertaking pre-licensing education courses, passing a national licensing test, and submitting the necessary information for approval by the NMLS.

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Originator?

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Originator

To become an MLO, follow these steps:

1. Meet the basic requirements

To become an MLO, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Consider taking math and finance classes in school to boost your knowledge and skills.

2. Complete pre-licensure courses

As a prerequisite for licensure, the National Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) requires mortgage loan officers to complete pre-licensing courses covering topics such as:

  • Law and regulations of the federal government (three hours)
  • Ethics, fair lending, and consumer protection (three hours)
  • An overview of lending standards in non-traditional mortgage markets (two hours)
  • Instruction on mortgage origination (12 hours)

Visit the website of the National Mortgage Licensing System to learn more about state-specific education requirements.

3. Pass the SAFE MLO test

You must pass the SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement Act) MLO test by achieving a minimum score of 75% to obtain your mortgage loan officer license. Among other areas, you must have a strong knowledge of federal mortgage lending laws. If you fail the exam, you may retake it after a 30-day waiting period, but, if you fail it three consecutive times, you must wait 180 days before attempting it again.

Mortgage loan officers are required to comply with the SAFE Act and the NMLS by:

  • Registering through the NMLS
  • Authorizing the procurement of your credit report
  • Authorizing the procurement of a federal criminal background check and providing fingerprints
  • Making sure that all of the information that you provide is accurate and complete
  • Disclosing any previous charges from financial regulatory agencies
  • Describing your employment history for the past 10 years
  • Furnishing the appropriate Identification information

4. Research your state’s licensure requirements

Once you complete your pre-licensure courses, getting a valid mortgage origination license is your next step toward becoming an MLO. You must pay a fee to obtain an MLO license, which varies by state. State agencies issue these licenses, and each state has its guidelines.

5. Fulfill NMLS requirements

The NMLS also requires that you meet the following requirements:

  • Sponsorship: Sponsorship and supervision of your MLO duties must be provided by your employer. Your state’s regulatory body must also approve your sponsorship.
  • NMLS Unique Identifier: Each MLO, mortgage lender, mortgage broker, and branch must secure and maintain its own NMLS account and unique identifier, and display this unique identifier on all advertising as well as on other documentation and other mediums as required by the SAFE Act.

6. Maintain active licensure

To keep your license active, you must meet specific requirements, such as updating your information whenever warranted. To update your sponsorship, you must notify the NMLS. For more information about deadlines, fees, checklists, license renewal, and updating your mortgage loan officer information, visit the NMLS’ website.

7. Continue your education

Mortgage loan officers must complete NMLS-approved continuing education every year to renew their licenses. This 8-hour NMLS-approved education course must include the following:

  • Three hours on federal regulations and laws
  • Two hours of ethics coursework on consumer protection, fair lending, and fraud
  • Two hours of training pertaining to the non-traditional mortgage market place
  • One hour of elective
  • Certain states also require state-specific continuing education in addition to the eight-hour national CE course. Be certain to know the requirements of any state or states in which you are licensed.

8. Get experience

For your first MLO position, you can seek employment at an established mortgage lending company, bank, or credit union once you have completed all education and licensure requirements. Be certain to find a sponsor that places a high emphasis on proper training.

Get Started With Our Test Prep

Understanding what an MLO is, what they do, and how you can prepare are all vital steps before you consider taking the NMLS test. With, you can prepare and become a Mortgage Loan Originator right. Don’t be part of the overall 57% that fail the test the first time! We have the training and test prep to get you started and help you pass this test. An MLO is a rewarding career with high income potential – so what are you waiting for?

Click here to take the first step in becoming a mortgage loan originator today!

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