Life Of An MLO


A Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) plays a vital role in the process of buying a home. They explain loan options and the loan process and are usually the primary contact when a borrower plans to complete a mortgage transaction. An MLO’s job is to educate and guide borrowers through the process of buying a home from application to closing.

Not only do MLOs offer home mortgage products and provide referrals for lending opportunities, but they also participate in business-related development opportunities that allow them to serve as a lending resource and promote homeownership within a community.

Furthermore, MLOs must have a strong understanding of the lending policies/programs and regulations native to their region to serve as an effective guide for homebuyers. Buying a home can be stressful, and few homebuyers know the ins and outs of the industry, so offering exceptional customer service is crucial.

Some basic responsibilities of an MLO include:

  • Identifying potential homebuyers through advertising, connections, seminars, etc.
  • Navigating, qualifying, and locking in the best rate
  • Ensuring that financing is in place at closing
  • Presenting borrowers with loan options that make sense for them
  • Keeping accurate, thorough records on mortgage transactions
  • Coordinating and fostering relationships with other mortgage professionals like underwriters and appraisers
  • Discussing a customer’s loan options throughout each stage of the loan process
  • Reviewing training materials and other resources to stay up to date on loan programs and policies for both internal customers and external business partners
  • Delivering outstanding customer service throughout the loan process
  • Evaluating the loan process from beginning to end
  • Accomplishing production goals set by a lending institution


Ever wondered what it would be like to be an MLO? No two days are the same, and each day can present itself with unique challenges and opportunities. While the primary objective for an MLO is to originate loans and ensure they are processed correctly, they also must support the borrower throughout the loan process from start to finish.

MLOs must be entrepreneurial.

A core component of being an MLO is curating new business. MLOs are a lot like salespeople, so developing and fostering a business referral network with commercial and residential real estate agencies is crucial to obtaining clients. Participating in community initiatives that promote homeownership and having experience in the industry will help you craft your network and connect with new customers. The job also requires time management skills. Much like a salesperson, MLOs may not report from an office or work the usual 9 am-5 pm hours. They also make a wide range in salaries, so it is up to you to maintain your work ethic to reach your sales goals.

MLOs must pay attention to detail.

Buying a home is the biggest purchase someone will make in his/her life, so it’s important MLOs support their clients throughout the entirety of the loan application process. First, specific information is shared with the customer about the loan process, available options, and repayment terms. The originator helps them gather the information to fill out the loan application and analyzes it to determine their creditworthiness. As the first contact for the customer, it is their job to offer insights and information that will help the homebuyer understand their options. In order to provide accurate suggestions for their customer, the MLO must critically analyze all options and the financial status of the customer.

MLOs must have strong communication and good follow-up skills.

After the borrower finishes the loan application process, the MLO must remain a resource to the customer by offering consistent loan management assistance. Information about the status of the loan should be clearly communicated in a timely manner, and the MLO should be readily available to help answer any questions and assist the customer in any way possible.

MLOs must be collaborative.

Communication skill is perhaps the most important skill for an MLO to master. MLOs are always collaborating with other mortgage professionals in addition to clients. Mortgage loan coordinators, mortgage loan associates, and sales assistants are just a few groups of people that they will interact with. They need to be able to communicate ideas across various platforms to multiple groups of people.

MLOs must be inquisitive.

The industry is rapidly changing, so MLOs must be ready to learn and ask questions when needed. As a part of the job, they are required to continue their education each year through professional development training. This ensures the MLO maintains their knowledge of lending programs/policies and regulations and can perform their tasks efficiently and effectively. The MLO should also ask questions if they suspect potential fraud. Inquisitiveness will help them be a better professional, steward to the loan process, and create relationships with clients.


Considering becoming a Mortgage Loan Originator? Well, you’re in luck. As of late, the U.S News & World Report positioned loan officers among its best 25 business jobs of 2020 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7.7% employment growth for loan officers between 2018 and 2028.

Furthermore, the pay range for an MLO starts at $29K up to $200K with an average of $52K. The top performers can make between $250K and $1M!

Advantages of Being an MLO:

  • Ability to manage your own schedule
    • MLOs enjoy the benefits of having a flexible work schedule. They typically aren’t required to work from 9 am-5 pm. Instead, many have flexible work hours and work on commission. This offers a great work-life balance to those that pursue this career.
  • Simple to get started
    • Becoming an MLO isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem. If you’d like to learn more about what steps you can take to become an originator, keep reading!
  • Job stability and perks
    • Mortgage loan originators are in demand and this demand is expected to increase as we’ve seen in recent years. Without the risk of losing your job and having to find another one, an MLO has job security that is extremely valuable.
    • In addition, many MLO jobs come with extra perks like health insurance, retirement plans, and holiday leave!
  • Get to Work with People
    • If you’re a people person, this job is for you. As an MLO, you’ll play an integral role in helping families realize their home-owning dreams. You streamline the entire process, collaborating with customers, and helping them acquire the mortgage loan perfect for them.
    • This job also involves social entertaining like breakfast meetings, business lunches, and other business functions.


Interested in becoming a mortgage professional? Mortgage loan originators (MLOs), provide home buyers with loan options that best fit their budgets and are the primary contact through the buying process. Although getting into the mortgage industry may seem overwhelming, Diehl can help you through the steps to jumpstart your career and get your license!

Follow the simple steps below

  1. Gain work experience and do your research.
    An MLO acts a lot like a salesperson, so it’s helpful to have experience in either sales, customer service, or finance. Take a look at your soft and technical skills to see if this profession would be a good fit for you.
  2. Complete the pre-licensing and state-specific courses.
    Diehl provides several options to best suit your learning style. The SAFE 20-hour pre-licensing class covers relevant federal and financial regulations around mortgages, industry ethics, mortgage origination, and different loan types.State-specific courses are required based on the state(s) you would be getting licensed in. Note, not all states have state-specific pre-licensing requirements. Click for details on state-specific education requirements for each state. NMLS State-Specific PE and CE Requirements
  3. Complete the NMLS National Exam.
    After completing the required education courses, we suggest you use a test prep to help you prepare for the exam. With Diehl’s Prep2Pass phone app, you can study information in a variety of ways and use the simulated exams until you are able to get to a 95% score (which is what we suggest as a good indicator to pass the National test) and from there, study what questions/topics missed.
  4. Complete other steps.
    Follow the other steps according to the NMLS website. These include reviewing your state-specific checklist, coordinating with your company, and creating an NMLS account. Find more information at the link below and quick guides to help you get started.
  5. Get started in your career!
    After you get your license, you can begin working as an MLO. You may choose to work independently, or with an established business using their existing clients. As a qualified MLO, you have the opportunity to help borrowers realize their home-owning dreams!
  6. Complete the required education to keep your license
    1. In order to keep your license current and valid, you are required to take an 8-hour continuing education course each year. This assures that you are up to date on changing regulations and can do your job to the best of your ability. Check out our CE courses Here.

MLO Requirements

  • Age
    Must be at least 18 years or older
  • Obtain an NMLS Number
    Register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS). View the NMLS website to learn more.
  • 20 Hours of Education
    Must complete the required pre-licensing education courses approved by the NMLS along with state-specific education courses.
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Pass the National Exam
    All state-licensed MLOs are required to pass the SAFE MLO test. View our Top 5 Tips to Pass the SAFE MLO Test and click Here to learn more about our test prep tool, Prep2Pass.
  • Other Requirements under the S.A.F.E. Act
    Check out the other requirements to become an MLO according to the NMLS at the link below.
  • Optional:
    • Experience in the mortgage industry
    • A bachelor’s degree in finance and sales
    • Computer, Time Management, Communication, Analysis, and Interpersonal skills

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