Become an MLO

What is a Mortgage Loan Originator?


A mortgage loan originator (MLO) is a person licensed to aid home buyers and homeowners obtain financing for their home.  To become a qualified, licensed MLO you must have knowledge in lending regulations, lending procedures and all types of mortgage loan programs.  An MLO must also show empathy and concern for the borrower to ensure they receive the best loan program available, based on their circumstance.  The majority of this knowledge is obtained through pre-license education required to obtain an MLO license issued by the state where the individual will originate loans.  After completion of the required education, the MLO must also successfully pass the mortgage loan originator exam, administered by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS).  

The process to become an MLO can take between 30 to 90 days depending on your available time for education and testing.


Who must have a Mortgage Loan Originator license?

As of 2010, after the SAFE Act and creation of the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System - NMLS, almost everyone acting as a mortgage loan originator needs to have a state issued loan originator license (many times referred to as a loan officer license or mortgage broker license).

What jobs will require an MLO license?

There are many job opportunities in the mortgage industry, not all of them require licensing.  Here is a list of mortgage industry jobs that require an MLO license.

- Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) - not working for a bank or credit union
- Mortgage Brokers 
- Mortgage Loan Modifiers
- Loan Origination Managers
- Mortgage Processors (Independent Contractors only)
- Mortgage Underwriters (Independent Contractors only)

*It is also recommended that Loan Originator Assistants (LOAs) have an MLO license.


How Much Does a Mortgage Loan Originator Earn?

Mortgage loan originators can earn very high compensation.  Though most are paid on salary plus bonus or commission, it can vary based on the state and the company.  According to, in December of 2022 an MLO is likely to have a total pay of $207,978, with an average salary of $142,261 and other pay of $65,717.  MLOs can earn more or less than that figure, but the amount represents the "Most Likely Range" per the site.


How do you get an MLO license?

Though the process to get an MLO license is not extreme, following the proper procedure will make it easier and less time-consuming.  It all begins by obtaining the proper mortgage education from a good mortgage school. Who you choose for your education will affect how long it takes to get your license.  Mortgage Knowledge provides you access to the nation's best mortgage schools and industry leading instructors.  These schools provide the highest quality education and help you successfully pass the NMLS test.  

Many states require some state-specific education to obtain your MLO license.  Mortgage Knowledge can provide you with any state education requirement.  After you pass the NMLS test, you then file your application with the state for your MLO license.  Each state is different on the application process, cost and amount of time required.  Some people believe NMLS issues licenses, that's not true, there is no such thing as an NMLS license, only the state issues an MLO license.


Licensing Resource Links:

Here are a couple useful links to help you get started.  To see the licensing requirements for your state use the first link.  To obtain your Unique Identifier number (required to take your education and schedule your exam) use the second link.  The NMLS website is also a good resource for mortgage loan originators.

State Licensing Requirements

How to obtain an NMLS Unique Identifier


Requirements After Becoming an MLO

All MLO licenses expire at the end of the year (in some states it's earlier than December 31st).  Each year the MLO will need to renew their mortgage license with the state.  Part of the MLO license renewal process is continuing education.  The minimum annual continuing education is 8 hours (some states require more than 8 hours).  Mortgage Knowledge has CE education for all states and courses are offered online, through webinars and in the classroom.  Select the state education you need and how you want to take the class - Mortgage Knowledge will do the rest.


Need Help With the Process?

The Education Concierges are here to help you navigate the process of becoming an MLO.  Our Personal Education Concierges are highly skilled at the procedure and will help you every step of the way at no cost. 

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