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How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in Arkansas

Last updated on March 21, 2023

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in Arkansas

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Looking to become a mortgage loan officer in Arkansas? 

You’ve come to the right place. 

Sure, there can be a lot of MLO guides out there, but they can get pretty vague about the process. 

Not us. 

Here, we’re going to give you a complete guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Arkansas.

We’ll list down ALL the steps and how to get through them. 

Plus, we’ll even answer some frequently asked questions. 

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s begin!

How to Become an MLO in Arkansas – The 5 Steps to Get Started

To become an MLO in Arkansas, you need to complete these 5 steps:

  1. Request an NMLS account
  2. Enroll in a pre-licensure education (PE)
  3. Pass the SAFE MLO exam
  4. Get an employer sponsorship
  5. Complete your MLO application 

Let’s walk you through each one. 

Step #1: Request an NMLS Account

In Arkansas, all your MLO activities will be done through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS).

This first step is rather easy — it’s just like creating an account on any website. 

All you need to do is:

  • Go to the NMLS login page
  • Request an Account
  • Click the individual option
  • Fill in the necessary information
  • Follow the online prompts

Once approved, you’ll receive your NMLS ID number ← keep this, it’s important. 

Step #2: Enroll in a Pre-Licensure Education (PE)

No, a 4-year college degree isn’t necessary. 

Instead, the Arkansas Security Department requires at least 20 hours of pre-licensure education (PE). 

These hours should include:

  • At least 3 hours of Federal Law
  • At least 3 hours of Ethics
  • At least 2 hours of Non-Standard Mortgage Lending
  • At least 12 hours of electives

What’s more, it’s important to make sure that the course provider is NMLS approved.

If you’re not sure where to go, here are our top recommendations:

If not, you can find a complete list of approved providers here

Step #3: Pass the SAFE MLO Exam

After your education requirements, you are eligible for the SAFE MLO exam. 

To register for it, follow these steps:

  • Click the ‘MLO Testing & Education’ to create a test enrollment window. 
  • Click ‘National Test with Uniform State Content’ and then select the SAFE MLO exam.
  • Add the exam to cart.
  • Proceed to the Candidate Agreement.
  • Review everything and accept it.
  • Go to the ‘Pay Invoice’ button to pay the exam fee of $110.
  • Go back to the ‘MLO Testing & Education’ and select ‘Manage Test Appointment’
  • Choose whether you’ll take the SAFE MLO online or at a test center. 

From there, you can go to Prometric to schedule your SAFE MLO exam. Make sure you read their instructions on what to do and bring during test day. 

Step #4: Get an Employer Sponsorship

Okay, this isn’t necessarily the next step. 

What do we mean?

Well, you can complete steps 4 and 5 at the same time. 

That said, you need an employer to work for to complete your application. 

Take your time — you want to go out and find one that fits your needs and preferences. 

And when you do, have them request sponsorship for you through NMLS. The Arkansas Security Department will review this and accept or decline it. 

Step #5: Complete Your MLO Application

To do this, you need to submit:

  • Individual Form (MU4)
  • Criminal background check
  • Credit report

Let’s go over them one by one. 

Individual Form (MU4)

  • On your NMLS account, click the ‘Filing’ tab and ‘Individual’ on the sub-menu.
  • Request New/Update.
  • Click ‘Add’ and select the states where you want to be licensed.
  • Select the license you’re applying for (in this case – mortgage loan officer or originator).
  • Confirm your information and finish. 
  • Input all the necessary information (name, address, employment history, etc.).
  • Answer all the disclosure questions. If you answer ‘yes’ to any question, make sure you provide the information and/or any documents. 
  • Make sure that your employer requested sponsorship. 

Criminal Background Check

All MLO applicants must undergo a criminal background check (CBC). 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  • Login to your NMLS account.
  • Head to the ‘Filing’ section.
  • Click on the ‘Criminal Background Check’ tab.
  • Complete the fields and click attest to authorize a criminal background check.
  • Pay the fee of $36.25.
  • Schedule a fingerprinting appointment with Fieldprint.
  • Get fingerprinted. 
  • In your NMLS account, indicate that you’re requesting a CBC.
  • Choose if you’ll use existing prints or new ones. Once you get these, you can submit the document. 
  • Give your demographic information. 
  • Save everything. 

Credit Report

To authorize your credit report, follow these steps:

  • Go to your NMLS account.
  • Click on the ‘Filing’ section.
  • Request credit report. 
  • Select the ‘Completeness Check’ icon to turn it in on. 
  • Go to the “Invidiaul Verification IDV” link.
  • Review the information, attest it, and submit authorization. 
  • Pay the credit report fee of $15. 

After submitting all that, you will need to pay the remaining fees. These include:

  • NMLS initial processing fee – $30
  • AR application fee – $50

Finally, all there’s left to do is wait for the Arkansas Security Department to approve everything. 

Once they do, your status will change from ‘pending’ to ‘active’.


You did it!

NOTE: It’s important to know that the AR Security Department does NOT issue paper licenses. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Mortgage Loan Officer in Arkansas

Now that you know ALL the steps, let’s move on to the frequently asked questions. 

What Can I Expect from the SAFE MLO Exam?

Well, there are 120 questions — although only 115 will be scored. The other 5 are just pre-test ones. 

You’ll be given around 3 hours to answer all the questions. 

And to pass, you need a score of at least 75%. 

If you want to know the contents of the exam, check out the MLO Testing Handbook here

What Does a Mortgage Loan Officer Do?

Let’s say you’re not really sure what an MLO’s job is. 

Well, they help financial institutions generate mortgage loans. They also help people complete and process their mortgage loan applications. 

Other tasks are as follows: 

  • Vet and verify mortgage loan applicants’ provided information; making sure to spot any inconsistencies.
  • Collect documents that will aid in the mortgage loan request. 
  • Negotiate mortgage loan terms depending on the applicant’s financial profile.
  • Help in closing the mortgage loan, including tracking deadlines 

A mortgage loan officer is typically employed by different financial institutions, from banks to credit unions. 

How Much Do Mortgage Loan Officers Earn in Arkansas?

The average salary of a mortgage loan officer in Arkansas is $66,500 a year. That said, the ranges are quite wide. You can earn anywhere from $36,000 to $230,500. 

What is the Difference Between a Mortgage Loan Officer and a Mortgage Broker?

You may have heard of the two terms, and now don’t know how they differentiate.

That’s okay — they do have similarities. 

A mortgage loan broker is the intermediary between lenders and borrowers. However, they don’t use their own money at all in these proceedings.

They do, however, perform the same duties as a mortgage loan officer, especially in helping manage mortgage terms depending on the applicant’s financial profile. 

A mortgage broker earns via commission through either the lender, borrower, or both.

On the other hand, a mortgage loan officer is there from start to finish with the loan process. They directly connect clients to the funds needed. 

And, instead of acting as an intermediary, mortgage loan officers represent banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. 


And that was your complete guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Arkansas. 

Sure, the process will take some time — and requires your time and effort. 

However, with a roadmap of the whole journey, it becomes a lot simpler. Now, you know where to begin, how to proceed, and all that. 

So what are you waiting for?

You can get started today!

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