The Complete Guide to Becoming a Loan Officer in 2023

If you’d like to become a loan officer in Texas, there is a clear path to follow to get your Texas MLO license and begin your career in the mortgage industry. The term mortgage loan originator (MLO), licensed mortgage loan officer are frequently used interchangeably and both reflect the important job of helping home buyers find and secure the right home loan for them.

As a successful loan officer you’ll need both a comprehensive understanding of the mortgage industry and financial regulations as well as good interpersonal and communication skills. To get your mortgage loan originator license you will first learn the national and Texas state-level lending guidelines and then pass an exam to show your mortgage knowledge.

Let’s dive into our step-by-step guide of how to become a TX loan officer. You can also check out our video tutorial on how to become an LO in Texas.

Becoming a loan officer is an exciting career path that allows you to help people realize their dreams of homeownership As a loan officer, you get to meet prospective buyers, understand their financial situations, educate them on loans, and guide them through the mortgage process

It’s a rewarding job, but also requires dedication and hard work. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps needed to become a licensed loan officer.

Step 1: Make Sure You Meet the Basic Requirements

Before diving into getting your license, make sure you meet some basic prerequisites:

  • You must be at least 18-20 years old depending on your state. Some states require you to be 18, while others mandate you to be 20.

  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most states don’t require a college degree.

  • Clear credit history with a mid-range credit score Many lenders prefer scores of 640 and above

  • No felony convictions in the last 7-10 years. Lenders avoid candidates with major felonies

  • Authorization to work in the United States. You’ll need to be a citizen or permanent resident.

Checking that you meet these prerequisites will ensure a smoother licensing process.

Step 2: Consider Getting a Degree (Optional)

Although not always required, having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like finance, accounting, economics, or business can be very advantageous. It shows lenders you have educational knowledge and makes you more competitive.

Degrees also equip you with skills like financial analysis, communication, and sales abilities – all extremely useful as a loan officer.

So while not mandatory, a degree can give your career a helpful boost.

Step 3: Learn the Mortgage Industry

Before getting your license, it’s crucial to start understanding the mortgage industry. Learn the lingo, major concepts, loan programs, and guidelines.

Some effective ways to build mortgage knowledge include:

  • Reading mortgage-focused books and publications
  • Completing online courses on mortgage basics
  • Shadowing a licensed loan officer at a bank or brokerage
  • Working an entry-level job at a lender to learn on the job
  • Joining forums and groups for aspiring loan officers

Gaining a solid base of mortgage knowledge early allows you to better prepare for the licensing exams and requirements.

Step 4: Choose Between a Brokerage or Bank

An important decision is whether you want to work for a mortgage brokerage or bank lender. Here are the key differences:


  • Brokers work with various wholesale lenders to find borrowers the best loan rates and programs.

  • Brokers don’t lend their own money. They process loans on behalf of lenders.

  • Brokers offer more flexible work options, like remote work.

  • Brokers allow you to switch lenders more fluidly based on market rates.


  • Banks lend their own capital directly to borrowers.

  • Bank loan officers only sell loan products offered by their bank.

  • Banks provide more structured work environments.

  • Banks offer greater job stability and internal opportunities.

Evaluate the pros and cons of each option to decide which suits you best. Many loan officers start at a brokerage to gain experience before moving to a bank role.

Step 5: Enroll in Mortgage Education Courses

All states require loan officer candidates to complete mortgage education courses before getting their license. This includes:

  • 20 hours of NMLS-approved pre-licensure education – These classes provide core knowledge on topics like ethics, federal laws, loan products, and more.

  • State-required education – Most states require between 1-10 additional hours focused specifically on their state lending laws.

Some reputable course providers include, Hondros, and Mortgage Educators. You can expect to pay $100-300 total for the required pre-licensing education.

Completing these mandatory courses shows states you have the minimum baseline mortgage knowledge needed.

Step 6: Pass the SAFE Mortgage Licensing Exam

After finishing your education requirements, the next step is passing the nationwide SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test.

Here are key facts about the SAFE exam:

  • It’s required by the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE Act).

  • The test is administered by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS).

  • It consists of 125 multiple choice questions covering general mortgage topics.

  • You must score at least 75% to pass.

  • The exam costs $110 payable to NMLS when scheduling it.

  • You can schedule it yourself online through a local testing center.

Passing this critically important exam proves to states you have the baseline mortgage knowledge to become a licensed loan officer.

Be sure to spend adequate time studying using prep books, practice exams, tutoring, or prep classes. Several weeks of studying is recommended to feel fully prepared.

Step 7: Apply for Your Loan Officer License

With your education and exam completed, it’s time to formally apply for your loan officer license. This involves:

  1. Creating your NMLS Account – This password protected account will manage your license application and sponsorship.

  2. Submitting Your MU4 Form – The MU4 form requires your employment and criminal history. The current fee is $100.

  3. Completing Fingerprinting – You’ll need to schedule fingerprinting which states use for background checks. This costs approximately $36.25

  4. Pay State Fees – Any additional state-level licensing fees will also need to be paid, which range from $0 to over $500 depending on your state.

  5. Find a Sponsor – The final step is having an approved bank or broker sponsor your license in the NMLS system.

Following these steps carefully ensures your license application is properly entered into the NMLS system and approved by your state regulator.

Step 8: Consider Getting Licensed in Multiple States

Once you have your initial license approved, you can consider getting licenses in additional states. This allows you to originate loans across multiple state lines.

The process includes:

  • Completing any additional state education hours

  • Paying state-level application fees

  • Passing additional state exams if required

  • Submitting your MU4 form to new states

Going through the reciprocity process to get licensed in neighboring states expands your lending radius and job prospects.

Step 9: Continuously Grow Your Skills

Once licensed, it’s essential to continuously expand your mortgage knowledge and skills over your career.

Some ways top loan officers keep growing include:

  • Taking continuing education classes annually as required by NMLS

  • Joining industry groups and associations

  • Attending mortgage conferences and events

  • Reading blogs, forums, and publications

  • Listening to mortgage-focused podcasts and videos

  • Practicing sales, communication, and persuasion abilities daily

The most successful loan officers treat learning as a lifelong journey. They recognize staying updated on lending regulations and tactics helps them better serve borrowers.

Becoming a licensed mortgage loan officer requires dedication but opens up an exciting career trajectory. Follow this step-by-step guide to meet the requirements, pass the exams, and obtain your license. Once approved, never stop striving to expand your mortgage knowledge and skills. Happy originating!

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Step 2: Get your NMLS ID

Once you’ve registered with the NMLS, you’ll receive an individual NMLS ID number to use throughout your career as a licensed loan officer. The same NMLS ID is used for your license in Texas and any other states you might consider getting licensed in like Colorado, Arizona or Oklahoma.

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer in 2024! (Step by Step)


Is it hard to make it as a loan officer?

Is it hard to make it as a Loan Officer? While becoming a loan officer may not be extremely difficult, it does require dedication, education, and the development of specific skills.

How much does MLO make in Texas?

Annual Salary
Monthly Pay
Top Earners
75th Percentile
25th Percentile

How do I become a loan officer?

To become a loan officer, you must meet licensing requirements that can vary from state to state. For those who wish to work with mortgages, this will require obtaining a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license from your state and registering with the National Mortgage Licensing Service (NMLS).

How do I become a loan officer in Florida?

To be a successful loan officer in Florida you’ll need both a comprehensive understanding of the mortgage industry, financial regulations as well as good interpersonal and communication skills. You’ll need to learn the national and Florida state-level guidelines and pass an exam to show your mortgage knowledge and expertise.

How do I get licensed as a Mortgage Loan Officer?

To become a licensed Mortgage Loan Officer, you must pass the SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement Act) MLO test with a minimum score of 75%. This exam measures your knowledge of both federal and state mortgage lending laws. You may retake the test, but there is a 30-day waiting period for retakes.

What educational background is needed to be a loan officer?

What type of educational background is needed to be a loan officers? It is not required to have a degree to become a loan officer. Having a degree in finance, business, or a related field can be helpful because it provides future MLOs with a strong foundational knowledge when it comes to home financing.

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