South Dakota Mortgage Loan Officer Pre-Licensure

How to Get a Mortgage Loan Officer License in South Dakota

How to Get Started as a
South Dakota Mortgage Loan Officer | Requirements to Become an MLO Through NMLS

We’ve compiled the six steps you’ll need to take to enroll in South Dakota Pre-Licensure Education (PE) and start your new career as a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO). We’ve also answered some of the most common questions that prospective South Dakota Loan Officers have as they consider this exciting new career.

How to Become a Loan Officer in South Dakota

1. Request an NMLS Account

Before beginning the educational component of licensing, prospective Loan Officers must create an NMLS (Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry) account on the State Mortgage Registry website. NMLS is a national database in which all South Dakota MLOs must register. After creating their account, applicants receive a personal NMLS number that will be maintained for the duration of their time working as a Loan Officer.

2. Complete NMLS-Approved Pre-Licensure Education

In South Dakota, you’re required to complete 20 hours of coursework in order to meet the education requirements. The courses include the following:

  • 3 hours of Federal Law
  • 3 hours of Ethics
  • 2 hours of Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending
  • 12 hours of General Electives

These courses are required by the South Dakota state licensing agency, also known as the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation - Division of Banking, and NMLS.

3. Pass the SAFE Mortgage Loan Officer Test in South Dakota

The South Dakota SAFE MLO Test can be scheduled by visiting the NMLS website. Applicants use their existing account number to schedule the exam. The exam has 115 scored questions, and test takers must answer at least 75% correctly. It costs $110 to take, and students are given 3 hours and 10 minutes to complete the test. You can learn more by reviewing the MLO Testing Handbook.

Did You Know?

The South Dakota SAFE MLO Test is not easy, and NMLS previously released a statement that the first-time pass rate was only 58%. Study smarter by purchasing a comprehensive Exam Prep program to help you feel confident on test day.

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4. Complete State and FBI Criminal Background Checks

South Dakota applicants will need to login into their NMLS account and head to the Filing section. From there, click on the Criminal Background Check tab. You will authorize a Federal Criminal Background Check by completing the fields and clicking Attest.

Then, South Dakota applicants must schedule an appointment to submit their fingerprints. In the portal, users will click on the Composite View button then select Criminal Background Requests. In this module, you can schedule your fingerprinting appointment by clicking the “Fieldprint” button.

The total cost of the state and FBI criminal background check is $36.25.

5. Complete the NMLS Application

Now it’s time to submit for official South Dakota licensure through NMLS. Applicants will apply through the NMLS licensing portal. Applicants are advised to review the MLO New Application checklist beforehand in order to ensure they’re ready to apply.

You’ll need to pay $150 for the South Dakota portion of the licensing fee. Additionally, a credit report must be submitted at the time of application for a fee of $15.

6. Secure Your Employer Sponsorship

Your South Dakota Loan Officer License will remain in pending status until your employing sponsorship is verified with NMLS. This verification is completed inside of the NMLS portal. Users will visit the Form Filing Home screen, then click Company Access. They’re then prompted to add their employer sponsorship by submitting employment details. Once the sponsoring employer receives notice of the verification request, they can approve the sponsorship. Upon approval, applicants are officially licensed.

Summary of South Dakota MLO Fees


Pre-Licensure Education


Criminal Background Check




Credit Report


NMLS Processing Fee


South Dakota Application Fee


What Else Is There to Know About Becoming a Mortgage Loan Officer in South Dakota?

What is the definition of a Mortgage Loan Officer in the state of South Dakota?

The definition below is taken from South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation website:

South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 54-14 defines a Mortgage Loan Originator as any individual acting under the supervision of a licensee and who, for compensation or gain or in the expectation of compensation or gain takes a mortgage loan application or offers or negotiates terms of a mortgage loan.

Note: The titles “Mortgage Loan Officer” and “Mortgage Loan Originator” are often used interchangeably, including in the summary above.

How much do South Dakota Mortgage Loan Officers make?

According to ZipRecruiter, South Dakota Mortgage Officers make approximately $64,000 per year on average as of November 2021. The 75th percentile of earners makes above $95,000, while the bottom 25th makes under $33,000. Top earners can earn more than $134,000 in South Dakota.

What is the South Dakota market like for Mortgage Loan Officers?

The real estate market in South Dakota is on the move. From Sioux Falls to Sturgis, there's plenty going on in South Dakota, and the real estate market reflects that busyness. Just last year, home prices in South Dakota jumped by 16.7% with no indication of slowing. That's perfect for MLOs looking to make deals happen frequently and at higher price points.

Is South Dakota a good state to work in as a Mortgage Loan Officer?

It pays to be a Mortgage Loan Officer in South Dakota. The median home price in South Dakota is $261,947. At a commission rate of 1%, that’s a $2,619 payment for the MLO once the loan is secured. For fun, the most expensive listing in South Dakota costs $4,000,000. If you were the MLO on this sale, your commission would be $40,000!

All average home price figures were collected from Zillow.

What are some of the notable South Dakota mortgage loan companies?

If you’re looking to get in contact with mortgage loan companies to ask about the profession, services, or employment opportunities, you can contact any of the following local businesses:

The First National Bank of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls)

Affiliated Mortgage South Dakota (Rapid City)

Plains Commerce Bank (Aberdeen)

Central Bank (Brookings)

Watertown Savings Bank (Watertown)