Become a Loan Officer in California

If you’re interested in becoming a mortgage loan officer in California, there is a clear path to follow to get your California MLO license and begin your career in the residential 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.

To be a successful loan officer 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 California state-level guidelines and pass an exam to show your mortgage knowledge and expertise. Let’s dive into our step-by-step guide of how to become a mlo in CA and fulfill all of the mortgage license requirements.

Step 1: Request your NMLS account

Start your journey to become an mlo by requesting an NMLS account through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS), which is also commonly referred to as the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. If you already have an NMLS account, and are looking to add California to your mortgage license, skip to step #3.

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Step 2: Receive your personal NMLS ID number

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

Step 3: Review the California state-specific licensing requirements

Check California’s state-specific licensing requirements through NMLS Resource Center, State Licensing website. Here you’ll find the additional steps required to obtain your MLO license in Cali. You will want to complete this step for any additional state you’d like to get licensed in.

Step 4: Complete national and California pre-licensing coursework

Complete the required 20 hours of pre-licensing coursework. Pre-licensing education classes for becoming a mortgage loan officer cover a range of topics from mortgage industry fundamentals to ethics and professional conduct. In California, 2 additional hours of work must be completed that are dedicated to state-specific laws and regulations.

Morty recommends Oncourse Learning as a pre-licensing coursework provider. If you’d like other recommendations, reach out through our Platform Loan Officer program.

Step 5: Prepare for the national SAFE Test

After you’ve completed your 20 hours pre license education and the additional 2 hours of California specific education, it’s time to study for your SAFE exam. First you’ll want to purchase your SAFE test prep materials and practice tests to begin studying and getting ready for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) exam. This exam was instituted by Congress as part of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act, known as the SAFE Act, of 2008. For loan officers joining the Morty platform, Morty covers the costs of test prep materials, a $100 value.

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Step 6: Pass the national SAFE exam

To obtain your MLO license, you’ll need to pass the NMLS’s SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test with a score of 75% or higher. This exam is meant to test your understanding of core concepts in mortgage lending. The SAFE exam is 190 minutes long, and costs $110.

Schedule your SAFE test at your convenience and when you feel prepared. If you do not pass the SAFE exam, you’ll have to wait 30 days to take it again.

Step 7: Complete a background check and get fingerprinted

Next, you must complete a criminal background check and get fingerprinted. The background check can be initiated through your NMLS portal. You can also make your appointment to have your fingerprints taken through the NMLS portal. The current cost of both the background check and the fingerprinting is $36.25.

Step 8: Submit your mortgage license application to NMLS

Once you’ve passed your test, done your background checks and submitted a licensing application, you’re ready to submit your California mortgage license application! To submit your application, head to your NMLS portal to: complete your Individual Form (MU4) and pay your NMLS fees. The cost to submit your mortgage officer license in California is: $30 NMLS application fee, $300 state application fee and a $15 credit report fee.

Step 9: Get sponsored by a mortgage company

After finding and being hired by a mortgage originator, that’s either a mortgage broker like Morty or a mortgage lender like a credit union or bank, you can initiate the sponsorship process by submitting the company’s credentials to the NMLS for verification. As soon as NMLS gives final approval — congrats, you officially have your mortgage loan originator license in California!

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Are you looking for mortgage sponsorship in California?

If you’ve completed the pre-licensing work and passed the SAFE exam to become an mlo in California, the next thing to consider is what mortgage company will to sponsor your license.

We’d love for you to be sponsored by Morty! Morty is a technology-enabled online licensed mortgage broker. Morty offers loan officers, and their clients, a better, more seamless mortgage experience through our lender marketplace, competitive pricing, affordability tools, underwriting technology, along with the built-in support from our processing and fulfillment teams.

Interested in getting your MLO license in multiple states?

If you’re an existing mortgage loan officer, you may be interested in getting licensed in multiple states to help you grow your business and find new opportunities. To become licensed in states other than California, you’ll need to fulfill the additional education requirements for each state and submit your license application for each state through NMLS.

Morty is licensed in 45 states and can help you quickly get sponsored in multiple states. To help, we compiled mortgage licensing guides for many states including: Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and New York.

Join the Morty platform as a mortgage loan originator

Morty makes it quick and easy to for licensed MLOs to get sponsored and work off our platform. We’re so confident that new MLOs will love working with Morty, we’ll even reimburse you for the fees associated with pre-licensing, exams and applications after you’ve been sponsored and fully onboarded to Morty.