How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer

It only takes a stroke of your pen to get someone on their way to purchasing their first home or business space.

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer

A bachelor’s degree isn't always necessary to be a mortgage loan officer.

A mortgage isn’t just a financial loan. It gives a family a home, a restaurant owner a space to serve up their favorite recipes, and a small business owner a place to bring their vision to life. Very few people can pay for real estate property out-of-pocket. As a mortgage loan officer, it only takes a stroke of your pen to get someone on their way to purchasing real estate. If you think you’re the person for the job, learn how to become a mortgage loan officer.

While many people are involved in the loan process, mortgage loan officers are a key part of the mortgage industry. They’re the ones who initiate fee-based mortgage loans that generate revenue for financial institutions and help borrowers get the funding they need. Mortgage loan officers enjoy flexible schedules, lucrative pay, and a steady demand for their services.

If a career as a mortgage loan officer interests you, Monster can help you seize the opportunity. Read on to find out how to become a mortgage loan officer.

What Is a Mortgage Loan Officer?

A mortgage loan officer is a financial professional who helps families and individuals acquire loans when buying real estate. The role of a mortgage loan officer is to check the credit of clients and determine how much money they are eligible to borrow. For example, a first-time homebuyer will often consult with a mortgage loan officer before submitting an offer on a house.

What Does a Mortgage Loan Officer Do?

Mortgage loan officers focus exclusively on real estate loans for individuals and businesses. They usually work for mortgage brokers, commercial banks, credit unions, or mortgage companies. They often work in an office and travel to meet potential borrowers.

The day-to-day duties of a mortgage loan officer include:

  • Developing relationships with real estate companies
  • Assessing potential borrowers’ credit
  • Discussing loan options with potential borrowers
  • Ensuring that loan agreements adhere to state and federal regulations
  • Keeping records of loan applications and mortgage transactions
  • Coordinating with underwriters to determine potential borrower risks
  • Working with appraisers to obtain an accurate market value for a property

Check out Monster’s mortgage loan officer job description to learn more about what employers look for when hiring for this role.

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer

Becoming a mortgage loan officer has its perks, but getting there takes some time and dedication. Having an undergraduate degree can make you more appealing to potential employers. Most importantly, you must be licensed to become fully qualified.

Mortgage Loan Officer Education Requirements

Since mortgage loan officers analyze the finances and credit of potential borrowers, a good place to start is a bachelor’s degree in business or finance. During your coursework, you’ll learn some accounting skills, including the ability to read financial statements.

If you need help getting started, check out these mortgage loan officer scholarships. They can help to cover some of the costs of your education so that you can focus on preparing for your career.

You don’t always need a bachelor’s degree to land a job as a mortgage loan officer. Some banks will hire candidates who have several years of hands-on banking, customer service, or sales experience and are willing to learn on the job.

Mortgage Loan Officer Licensure and Certification

Whether you graduate with a bachelor’s degree or go the working route, you must obtain a mortgage loan originator (MLO) license to become a fully qualified mortgage loan officer. To get your MLO, you’ll have to complete 20 hours of pre-licensure education and pass the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) exam.

You must also submit to a background and credit check and renew your MLO license each year by following the licensure requirements in your state.

While it’s not required, you may want to obtain a mortgage loan officer certification to propel yourself to the top of a prospective employer’s list. Several postsecondary schools and banking associations, such as the American Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association, offer courses, training programs, and certifications.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer?

It depends on your level of education and experience. If you don’t have an undergraduate degree or any banking experience, you’ll need to hit the books for about four years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

If you choose not to pursue a bachelor’s degree, you can spend about two to five years working for a financial institution, honing your skills, learning about the industry, and building relationships with your network.

Even after you’ve completed your education or gained years of work experience, it can take several weeks or months to become licensed. The amount of time it takes to get licensed depends on whether you pass the NMLS exam with a score of 75% or higher. If you don’t pass, you have to wait 30 days to retake the exam. If you score under 75% three consecutive times, you have to wait 180 days to retake the test.

How Much Do Mortgage Loan Officers Make?

Most mortgage loan officers work exclusively on commission. Others earn flat salaries or earn both a salary and a small commission. While there are risks associated with commission-based pay, there’s no need to be discouraged. 

According to Monster data, the median mortgage loan officer salary is $66,325 per year. The lowest-earning officers make $42,488, while the highest earn more than $89,000. Your salary will depend on how many fee-based loans you close, so you’ll have a high incentive to market yourself to potential borrowers

You can look up the average salary for mortgage loan officers in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.

How to Find Mortgage Loan Officer Jobs

Now that you know how to become a mortgage loan officer, you’ll need to pitch yourself to employers with a solid resume and cover letter that will maximize your chances of getting hired. While you’re writing, make sure to highlight the top qualities that employers are looking for in a mortgage loan officer, including:

  • The ability to decide whether to approve a loan based on an applicant’s financial information
  • Keen attention to detail and good judgment
  • Strong interpersonal and marketing skills
  • The ability to reach out to potential borrowers to promote your financial institution

For more tips, take a look at Monster’s sample mortgage loan officer resume.

After your resume and cover letter are in tip-top shape, it’s time to start searching for mortgage loan officer jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top five states with the most mortgage loan officer jobs are:

The top five U.S. metro areas with the most mortgage loan officer jobs are:

Sign a New Lease on Life as a Mortgage Loan Officer

Knowing how to become a mortgage loan officer is a great career investment. Now it’s time to put your know-how to work. Monster will provide you with the assets you need to get started. Simply upload your resume for free to maximize your job-seeking potential.