Next Steps After Passing the NMLS Exam
So, you’ve taken your Pre-Licensing (PE) courses and passed your NMLS Exam and now you’re wondering, “What should I do next?”. There are additional steps you need to take to become a Mortgage Loan Originator, Mortgage Loan Officer, or Mortgage Broker after passing the NMLS exam. This guide will help you through each of these steps from beginning to end.
Pass the NMLS Test
The NMLS mortgage licensing exam, also known as the SAFE MLO Test, is the exam you’ll need to pass to become licensed. The cost to take the exam is $110. You have unlimited time to finish the 120 multiple-choice questions on the exam, with most test-takers finishing in around 2 hours. 115 of the questions are scored while five of the questions are unscored, and you must score a 75% or greater to pass the exam. The NMLS exam covers five major content areas:
- Federal Mortgage-Related Laws (24%)
- Uniform State Content (11%)
- General Mortgage Knowledge (20%)
- Mortgage Loan Origination Activities (27%)
- Ethics (18%)
When taking the NMLS exam there are some test prep tips and tricks that may help you along the way. Be sure to answer every question, but start with the ones you’re certain about. There is an option to either “Confirm” or “Confirm and Review” each question, and choosing “Confirm and Review” gives you a chance to go back to the questions you are unsure about. Carefully read each question, and look out for questions that include negative wording such as “except for”, and “everything but”.
The proctoring process for taking the NMLS exam is strict, so make sure you read up on the Rules of Conduct before starting. This includes making sure that you don’t give or receive assistance on the exam, don’t share test questions with anyone not authorized by NMLS, and don’t utilize additional electronics throughout the test. There are also accommodations available to you, providing necessary modifications and aids for those eligible.
You are able to schedule your own exam and will have your final test results within 72 hours of finishing. If necessary, you can cancel or reschedule your exam at any time. If you don’t pass the exam on the first try, you will need to retake the exam; after each exam attempt you must wait 30 days before being able to test again, and you will have to pay the $110 fee each time. If you do not pass the exam after the third attempt, there is a 180-day waiting period required before your next attempt.
Apply for an NMLS License
After receiving a passing score on your national exam, you must apply for your Mortgage Loan Originator license on the NMLS website to become a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator. Some employers will pay or reimburse you for the fees associated with your application, so be sure to check beforehand.
When applying, first make sure you have all the State Licensing Requirements documents required. These documents will vary depending on which state you are applying to be licensed in. Next up, you’re ready to head over to the NMLS website. You will already have made your NMLS account, and you will apply within your account. Some states or mortgage companies require you to fill out and submit an Individual Form (MU4), which will be done following your PE coursework and SAFE MLO Test. You will have to identify the jurisdictions where you would like to be licensed, pay the associated fees, and then submit it to the relevant regulators. Stay up to date with the status of your license within your account, as you are not able to practice as an MLO until your application has been approved through the NMLS website.
Submit a Background and Credit Check
The SAFE Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 was created in order to regulate licensure in the mortgage industry and put rules into place that help to protect consumers. This made it necessary for any MLO to be licensed by the national standards set in place. Setting these standards helped to reduce fraud in the mortgage industry, and gave consumers peace of mind in knowing their MLO is fully qualified.
As per the NMLS website, “The SAFE Act requires state-licensed MLOs to pass a written qualified test, to complete pre-licensure education courses, and to take annual continuing education courses. The SAFE Act also requires all MLOs to submit fingerprints to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) for submission to the FBI for a criminal background check; and state-licensed MLOs to provide authorization for NMLS to obtain an independent credit report.” Here are some of the necessary requirements you will need to complete:
- You will need to complete a criminal background check with a fee of $36.25 for Live Scan and $46.25 for Paper Card Capture.
- Fingerprints are required to be submitted unless you have fingerprints registered with NMLS within the last three years. The fingerprint fee is included in the criminal background check fee.
- Every MLO must go through the credit report authorization process through NMLS, and the $15 fee can be paid by you or your employer.
- As an individual MLO, your NMLS processing fees include a $30 initial set-up fee as well as a $30 annual processing fee.
Get Sponsored by a Mortgage Employer and Start Your Career!
In order to be a fully licensed MLO, you must be sponsored by a state-licensed employer. This sponsorship shows that the MLO’s activities are supervised by an employer, and these sponsorship requests must be approved by NMLS. Companies must request the sponsorship to be approved, and the first request is free. Any subsequent sponsorship fees requested by a company will cost them $30. The individual being sponsored is not responsible for these fees.
A company must have access to the individual’s NMLS record before they are able to sponsor the individual. They will then find the record within NMLS, and simply check the box next to the individual they would like to sponsor. They will be directed to the invoice page and will pay any fees associated with the individual sponsorship.
Once you’ve done your Pre-Licensure Education, passed your NMLS exam, completed all of your state’s application requirements, have been granted a license, and received a sponsor, the only thing left to do is to start your career as a mortgage professional! If you need assistance with landing your first MLO job, National Mortgage Staffing and Mortgage Banking Jobs are great resources to utilize in your job search.