Getting your mortgage loan originator (MLO) license is one of the best professional investments you can make. Mortgage loan officers are in high demand and the career has abundant growth opportunities.

It's also affordable to get licensed, compared to other areas of real estate. Considering all licensing and course costs, you can become an MLO for under $1000 in many places.

Unexpected costs

It can be difficult to sort through the numerous costs of getting licensed as a loan officer. There are pre-licensing courses, exams, and licensing fees, all of which can vary state-to-state. Some costs are consistent nationwide, like the cost of the national test.

This article will clear up the unexpected fees that come with getting licensed. We'll break down the licensing costs and the variations based on your location.

The basic breakdown

The table below illustrates the costs that come with each step of the licensing process:

Requirement Cost
1. Pre-licensing courses (national SAFE comprehensive course plus state requirements) $230−$719, depending on state and delivery method
2. Exam prep course Free with pre-licensing course package, $235 by itself
3. National exam $110
4. Licensing State-specific fees − *see next section
NMLS processing fee − $30
FBI background check − $36.25
Credit report request − $15
Totals before state-specific fees: $421.25−$910.25, depending on location and chosen pre-licensing course package.

No matter your location, you must purchase a federal background check, a credit report request, and application processing. But depending on your state, the licensing fee varies.

Pre-licensing costs

Wherever you are located in the US, you must complete the required 20 hours of NMLS-approved courses to earn your individual MLO license. This requirement is set forth by the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act. The additional pre-licensing requirements vary by state.

For example, in Texas, the pre-licensing courses range from $485 to $719, depending on your chosen program. The most affordable program, at $480, includes the SAFE Comprehensive courses along with the 3-hour Texas requirement, TX-SML SAFE: Texas Law and Practice. The $719 program, on the other hand, includes all of the above, plus courses on how to market yourself as a new MLO, business etiquette, and essential mortgage skills. You can explore these programs here.

Depending on your state, you may be able to buy the courses a la carte. This is not recommended — you wont get the exam prep course for free, nor will you be able to take courses via an online interactive program.

Exam prep course cost

The Loan Officer Exam Prep course is highly recommended for all MLO students. Students who enroll in this course are much more likely to pass the national exam.

It's also free if you purchase most programs, but costs $235 if purchased individually.

Exam fee

The national exam costs $110 no matter where you are in the country. The fee covers exam proctoring, as well as all testing materials.

Licensing fees

Depending on your location, you may have to pay a sponsorship fee, a recovery fund, and other licensing costs.

Select your state on the NMLS website to view state-specific fees.

Background check

To finalize your license, you have to get a federal background check. It costs $36.25.

In some states, however, you will have to pay for a state background check in addition to the federal check. To view these costs, visit the NMLS site and select your state.

Credit report request

As a mortgage loan originator, it is crucial that you have a history of fiscal responsibility and integrity. As a part of the licensing process, you are required to submit a credit report proving that you have a good history with money. It costs $15 everywhere.

The bottom line

A mortgage loan originator license ranges from about $700 to $1500. The most substantial MLO license cost is the prelicensing education requirements. The licensing fees vary by state.

Getting your MLO license is an investment in your professional future. Considering the average salary of MLOs, you will see a substantial return on your investment.

If a career in mortgage lending sounds interesting to you, click below to find out more. Champions School of Real Estate offers pre-licensing education in all 50 states.

Join us and make a smart investment in your future!

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