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How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in South Carolina

Last updated on June 29, 2023

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in South Carolina

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Want to jumpstart your mortgage loan officer career? 

Don’t know where to begin? 

If you’re clueless about how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in South Carolina, then you’re in the right place. 

Here, we’re going to take you through all the requirements and steps specific to South Carolina. 

We’ll make sure to give you all the details. 

This way, you won’t be left wondering what to do next. 

So are you ready?

Let’s get to it!

How to Become an MLO in South Carolina – The 6 Steps to Complete

To become a mortgage loan officer in South Carolina, you need to complete these 6 steps: 

  • Create an NMLS account
  • Complete an approved pre-licensure education
  • Pass the MLO licensing test
  • Apply for an MLO license
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Find sponsorship 

In the next sections, we’ll talk about each step in more detail. 

Step #1: Create an NMLS Account

Your career starts with your NMLS account. 

NMLS, also known as Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System, is where you will apply for your license and generate your MLO ID number. 

Keep in mind that the MLO ID number is going to be your identification while you work as an MLO in South Carolina and other states. 

That said, here’s how to create an account:

  • Click ‘Request an Account’ and then ‘Individual’
  • Type in the captcha.
  • Fill in all the details you’re asked for to create your profile. Click Confirm when you’re done. 
  • Go to your email and click the NMLS email containing your temporary password. 
  • Go back to the login page and type in your credentials and temporary password. 
  • After you log in, you will be prompted to create a new password. 
  • Once your account is created, you will receive your MLO ID number. 

Step #2: Complete an Approved Pre-Licensure Education

In South Carolina, aspiring MLOs are required to complete at least 20 hours of pre-licensure education. 

Your education should include: 

  • 2 hours of Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending
  • 3 hours of South Carolina-specific laws
  • 3 hours of Ethics
  • 3 hours of Federal Law
  • At least 9 hours of general electives

Depending on your availability, you can complete this course in less than two weeks. You can also decide to take it online or in person. 

If you choose online, here are some great approved schools to pick from:

Here’s an important thing to note. 

If you want to work as a mortgage broker loan officer for an individual broker, you should choose the DCA courses. 

If you plan on being a regular mortgage loan officer, then you must take the BFI courses. 

Step #3: Pass the MLO Licensing Test

The MLO licensing test you take will depend if you want to go DCA (MLO broker working for an individual broker) or BFI (regular MLO working in a company).

For DCA, you must pass both the National and SC State Component of the MLO SAFE test. 

As for BFI, you only need to pass the Uniform State Test. 

Either way, you’ll have to register for the licensing test through your NMLS account. 

To do that:

  • Create a testing window in the MLO Test & Education tab. 
  • Fill in the details, such as which state(s) you’re taking the test from, what type of test you need, etc. 
  • Add the widow to your cart and pay the invoice of $110. 
  • Schedule your MLO licensing test through the link sent in your email OR directly with Prometric.

Now, your testing window is valid for 180 days and gives you 3 attempts at the MLO licensing test. 

If you pass, make sure the results are added to your NMLS. You can check that out in the ‘Composite View’ > ‘Viewing Testing Information’ on your account. 

If you fail the test 3 times or pass the 180-day window validity, you’ll have to register again. Yes, that means you have to pay another $110.

For more information about the MLO licensing test, you can check the MLO Testing Handbook

Step #4: Apply for an MLO License

Once you pass the MLO licensing test, you can move on to your license application. 

This is done by filling up the Individual Form MU4 in your NMLS account. 

You can find the form in Filing > Individual > Request/New Update

Here is what you can expect in the form: 

  • Choose the state(s) you’ll work in.
  • Choose a license type — Mortgage Broker Loan Officer (DCA) or Mortgage Loan Officer (BFI)
  • Fill in your details. 
  • Authorize a Criminal Background Check by selecting “New Prints”. 
  • Authorize a Credit Report by turning on the icon in the top right corner. 
  • Fill in an Identity Verification Process (IDV).
  • Answer disclosure questions (required for DCA only) 

And here are the documents you may need to submit:

  • A letter of explanation for any misdemeanor within the last 10 years on your Criminal Background Check.
  • A letter of explanation and final disposition of a felony conviction on your Criminal Background Check. 
  • A letter of explanation for all derogatory credit along with proof.
  • Any required document if you answered ‘yes’ to one of the disclosure questions. 

Step #5: Complete a Criminal Background Check

This step is still part of your application. 

If you select “New Prints”, then you’ll have to create an account and schedule a fingerprinting appointment with NMLS Fieldprint

Once your fingerprints are taken, they will be uploaded to the NMLS for review. 

If it doesn’t pass, then you’ll need to submit the documents for it (check above).  

NOTE: This also applies to your credit report check. If it doesn’t pass, then upload the required documents that we mentioned above. 

If it does pass, then you can pay the fees and submit your application.

Here is a table of the fees you’ll have to pay:

Initial NMLS Processing Fee:$30
SC Application Fee:$50
Criminal Background Check:$36.25
Credit Report:$15
Total Fee: $131.25

Step #6: Find Sponsorship

If your application is approved, your MLO license status will read ‘Approved-Inactive’. 

Take note that you CANNOT practice if your license is under an ‘inactive’ status. 

To change it to ‘active’, you need to have your employer request sponsorship. 

If you already have an employer, this should be easy enough. 

But if not, then it’s time to go out and look for employment. 

Don’t rush — you can take all the time you need. 

When you do find an employer, have them request sponsorship for you through the NMLS. 

From there, either the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) or the South Carolina State Board of Financial Institutions (BFI) will review the request. 

If accepted, then your MLO license status will change to ‘Approved-Active’. 


You did it!

Frequently Asked Questions About Mortgage Loan Officers in South Carolina

How Many Questions Are in the SAFE Test?

The MLO SAFE Test has 120 questions — but only 115 are scored. This is because the remaining 5 are sample questions. 

Now, you’ll be given around 3 hours to complete the test. 

To pass, you need to get a score of 75% or higher. 

How Much Do Mortgage Loan Officers Make in SC?

According to Indeed.com, MLOs in South Carolina earn an average of $202,048 per year (as of June 2023). This average can range anywhere between $88,494 to $461,314. 

Of course, you should expect a lower salary when you just get started. Also, the salary will vary depending on several factors, such as company, workload, experience, etc. 

What is the Annual Fee for an MLO to Renew Their License in SC?

To renew your South Carolina MLO license, you have to pay a fee of $55. 

What’s more, you also have to complete the required MLO continuing education requirements and submit a filing through the NMLS. 

This has to be done every year before November 30. 


So now you know how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in South Carolina. 

Before you begin, you should plan whether you want to work as a mortgage broker loan officer for an individual mortgage broker or as a mortgage loan officer for a company. 

From there, you can follow the steps that apply to you. 

Best of luck!

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