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

Last updated on May 10, 2023

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

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So you’ve decided to pursue a career as a mortgage loan officer in Ohio…

But you don’t know where and how to start. 

Don’t worry. 

Today, we’ll walk you through how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Ohio this 2023. 

We’ll go into detail about the 5 steps to certification. 

We’ll even answer some frequently asked questions, like:

  • How much does it cost to become an MLO in Ohio?
  • How much do MLOs earn in Ohio?
  • What happens if I fail the SAFE MLO test?

This simple but comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know.

So sit back and read on…

How to Become an MLO in Ohio – The 5 Steps to Certification

Becoming an MLO is easy. 

The only eligibility requirements are to be 18 years old or older and have a high school diploma or GED. 

You don’t need a college degree or any relevant working experience. 

Although, as we’ll see later on, college degrees and working experience help you greatly. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 

Let’s start at the beginning. 

Here are the 5 steps to becoming a mortgage loan officer in Ohio: 

  1. Get an account on NMLS
  2. Complete the required pre-licensure education
  3. Take and pass the MLO licensing exam
  4. Fill out and submit the application form.
  5. Be sponsored by an employer.

Let’s walk you through these steps. 

Step #1: Get an Account on NMLS

First, you need to create an account on the NMLS website. 

The NMLS, or the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System, is an Internet-based database for licensed mortgage loan officers and mortgage companies. 

You will use the portal throughout your life as a mortgage loan officer. 

Follow the steps below to create an NMLS account:

  • Go to the NMLS portal.
  • Select the ‘Request an Account’ link below.
  • Click the ‘Individual’ button from the choices.
  • Enter the security code.
  • Complete the online form with accurate details.
  • Click Next to submit.

Upon submission, you should get a unique identifier or your NMLS number, a username, and a password in your email. 

Remember, your unique identifier is important. You’ll be using this number to enroll in a pre-licensure course, apply for your MLO certificate, renew your MLO certificate, and much more. So make sure to keep it. 

Step #2: Complete the Required Pre-Licensure Education

As mandated by the SAFE or Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008, all mortgage loan originators must complete the pre-licensure education (PE) from an NMLS-approved provider.

Check this link for a list of NMLS-approved course providers across the US.

Now, the SAFE Act of 2008 states that you must complete at least 20 hours of PE. 

This includes: 

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

Besides that, the Ohio Residential Mortgage Lending Act (RMLA) implements 4 hours of Ohio Lending Laws and Consumer Sales Practices. 

So in total, you’ll need to complete 24 hours of pre-licensure education.

To help you out, here are some of the best approved PE online providers in Ohio:

Once you complete pre-licensure education, you can check if the requirement is ‘Compliant’ by following this guide

Step #3: Take and Pass the MLO Licensing Exam

The SAFE MLO Test will evaluate your knowledge and determine if you are ready to become a mortgage loan officer.

It is a 120-item test (5 are not graded as these are only sample questions). You must score at least 75% to pass.

For more information about the SAFE MLO test, you can read through the MLO Testing Handbook

But before you can sit for the test, you have to register and schedule for it.

Here are the registration steps:

  • Log in to your NMLS account.
  • Go to the MLO Testing and Education tab.
  • Click Create New Test.
  • Select National Test with UST and add it to your cart. 
  • Pay the exam fee of $110.  

To schedule your test, follow these steps:

  • Go to the MLO Testing and Education tab.
  • Choose to Manage Test Appointments.
  • Select from the below choices:
    • Schedule-Test Center
    • Request-Online Test

If you click Schedule-Test Center, you will be redirected to the Prometric website, where you will choose your preferred date, time, and testing location. 

Ohio has various Prometric testing centers, including Akron, Niles, Stow, and Toledo.

You can also choose to take the test through an online proctor. However, make sure that you comply with the checklist provided. 

After you finish that, you can check if you passed or not by following this guide. 

Step #4: Fill Out and Submit the Application Form

You’re just a few steps away from getting your mortgage loan officer certificate in Ohio!

But before that, you’ll need to submit Individual Form (MU4) in NMLS. 

Below is the step-by-step guide on how to complete your Individual Form (MU4):

  • Log in to your NMLS account and go to the Filing tab.
  • Select the ‘Individual’ sub-menu and click Request New/Update.
  • Add any existing license(s) and select Ohio.
  • Choose Ohio Mortgage Loan Originator License as your license type.
  • Input your NMLS number and verify if the information is correct before hitting Continue.
  • Fill in the required details.
  • Upload the required documents:
    • A completed MLO Ohio Attestation form under the Verification of Experience section. 
    • A Verification of Experience (for Operations Managers ONLY).
    • A detailed letter of credit report explanation, complete with proof documents under the Credit Report Explanation section (for any derogatory credit accounts).
  • Answer all of the disclosure questions truthfully and provide additional information or documents as needed.
  • Authorize a Criminal Background Check (CBC).
  • Click ‘Submit New Prints’. If you have existing fingerprints with NMLS, click Use Existing Prints and hit Submit.
  • Fill out the required details in the demographic information section.
  • Authorize a credit report by turning on the Completeness Check icon found in the top right corner, then click the Identity Verification Process (IDV) link and complete it. 
  • Provide the necessary information and hit Submit.
  • Submit the accomplished Individual Form (MU4) and pay the relevant fees:
    • OH application fee – $200
    • NMLS initial processing fee – $30
    • Credit report – $15
    • Criminal background check – $36.25
    • TOTAL – $281.25
  • For your fingerprints, you need to go to Fieldprint and create an account. 
  • After that, you can schedule a fingerprinting appointment. 
  • Fieldprint will then forward your prints to the NMLS once completed. 

For a complete Ohio checklist, you can find that here

Step #5: Be Sponsored By an Employer

Your mortgage loan originator certificate will remain inactive until you associate an employer with your NMLS ID. 

This means you need to go out and find a job as an MLO. 

To help you get started in looking for career opportunities, we’ll give you a few tips.

As with any other career, a solid resume will help you get interviews and eventually, job offers.

Things that will help you build a strong resume are as follows:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Prior work experience in real estate

While a college degree is not mandatory for MLOs, it will increase your chances of getting hired.

Employment history will also work to your advantage. Before applying for your certificate, you might want to consider working entry-level real estate jobs to help you develop skills and earn valuable industry experience.

And if you get hired?

Have your employer request sponsorship for you through the NMLS. 

The Ohio Division of Financial Institutes will review the request. 

If they decline it, you will have to go to your NMLS account and see the application deficiencies. If you don’t respond to these within 90 days, your application will be withdrawn. 

If the Division accepts the sponsorship, your MLO certificate will turn from ‘inactive’ to ‘active’


That’s not all. 

If you are working for an employer of an exempt entity, you must submit a SURETY BOND with the following criteria:

  • Must be in favor of the Superintendent of Financial Institutes. 
  • Must be in the penal sum of one-half percent of the aggregate loan amount of residential mortgage loans originated in the immediately preceding calendar year, not to exceed $150,000 ($100,000 if individual loan originator is providing their own bond).  
  • Under no circumstances can the bond be less than $50,000 plus an additional penal sum of $10,000 for each branch location.  
  • The term of the bond must coincide with the term of registration in Ohio.  
  • The name of the principal insured on the bond must match exactly the full legal name of the applicant.

You must email a copy of your surety bond to webdficf@com.state.oh.us. The subject title should be “MLO Surety Bond”.

However, if your employer holds a Certificate of Registration under the RMLA, you don’t need to provide a surety bond. 

And that’s it!

You can now start practicing as a mortgage loan officer in Ohio.


Frequently Asked Questions About Mortgage Loan Officers (MLO) in Ohio

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer in Ohio?

Below is a list of fees and costs you will incur to obtain a mortgage loan originator certificate in Ohio:

Pre-licensure education:Around $200 – $500, depending on the provider
SAFE MLO exam:$110
Ohio application fee:$200
NMLS initial processing fee:$30
FBI Criminal Background Check (CBC) fee:$36.25
Credit Report fee:$15
TOTAL: $591.25 to $891.25

How Much Do MLOs Earn in Ohio?

According to Intuit, the average salary of an MLO in Ohio is $56,500 per year. 

Here is also the base salaries earned per age:

18-25 years old$50,000
26-35 years old $56,000
36-45 years old$61,000
46+ years oldAbove $61,000

As for YOU, you can expect a starting salary of $20,500. From there, you can reach highs of $260,500!

Of course, this will all depend on experience, skills, employer, bonuses, and more. 

What Happens if I Fail the SAFE MLO Test in Ohio?

If you fail the first time, you can sit for the exam 2 more times. The waiting period between your first and second attempts is 30 days.

If you fail on your third try, though, you must wait at least 180 days before retaking the test. Also, you must apply for a new test enrollment window and repay the $110 exam fee. 


And that is how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Ohio. 

It wasn’t too complicated, right?

Sure, you need to put time and effort (and sometimes investment) into each step. 

But if you just follow this guide step by step, you’ll soon be on your way to a mortgage loan officer certificate in Ohio. 

So what are you waiting for?

Go ahead and get started today!

Best of luck!

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