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

Last updated on September 27, 2023

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

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So, you want to become a mortgage loan officer or originator in South Dakota?

You’ve come to the right place. 

Here, we’re going to list the requirements for getting your MLO license in the state. 

We’ll walk you through all the steps and details. 

We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions. 

This is your complete guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in South Dakota.

So let’s get started!

How to Become an MLO in South Dakota – The 5 Steps to Getting an MLO License

To get your South Dakota MLO license, you need to complete these 5 steps:

  1. Create an NMLS account
  2. Complete a 20-hour MLO pre-licensure education
  3. Register and pass the SAFE MLO Test
  4. Apply for your MLO license in South Dakota
  5. Find a company for employment sponsorship

Let’s walk you through all of this one by one. 

Step #1: Create an NMLS Account

It’s so easy to get started!

All you need is to create an individual NMLS account. 

And yes, this is like creating any other social media account — so no worries there. 

Click here to create/request an NMLS account. 

Your NMLS account is where you’ll do everything — from MLO license application to sponsorships to renewing.

Now, once you have an account, you can find your unique identifier number in the NMLS dashboard > Composite View > View Individual.

This number will be your official ID and MLO number. 

You’ll need it to register for pre-licensure education, the SAFE MLO test, your application, employment sponsorship, and much more. 

Step #2: Complete a 20-Hour MLO Pre-Licensure Education

Another reason why getting an MLO license in South Dakota is so easy is that you don’t need to spend years studying. 


In fact, you’re only required to complete 20 hours of MLO pre-licensure education (also called PE).

However, make sure that it includes the following:

Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending 2 Hours
Federal Mortgage-Related Laws3 Hours
Ethics3 Hours
General Mortgage Electives12 Hours

But I’m so busy I don’t have time to attend classes…

Great news!

You can study your PE requirements online. 

Here are some NMLS-approved online schools that we highly recommend checking out:

NOTE: Applicants in South Dakota must ensure their PE is listed as ‘Compliant’ on their record through the CSBS NMLS Portal once completed. 

Step #3: Register and Pass the SAFE MLO Test

Did you learn anything from your PE requirement?

Or did you just zoom past the lessons?

You’ll find out when you take the SAFE MLO test. 

Yes, this is to test your knowledge of all things mortgage loan originating. 

But before anything else, you need to register for the test through your NMLS account. 

  1. Go to your NMLS dashboard. 
  1. Proceed to the ‘MLO Testing & Education’ tab.
  1. Choose the ‘Create a New Test Enrollment Window.’
  1. Select the test you wish to take. You can choose from 3 options:
    1. National and South Dakota State Components of the SAFE Test
    2. National and Stand-alone UST Components of the SAFE Test
    3. National Test Component with Uniform State Content
  1. Add your chosen test to the ‘Test Cart.’ 
  1. Review the Agreements and click ‘Accept’ once you’re finished.
  1. Pay a $110 window test fee. You may use major credit and debit cards or Automated Clearing House funds transfer.

Once registered, you can head over to Prometric’s website (the test conductor) and schedule an online or in-person appointment. 

What about the actual test?

Well, you’ll have to answer 120 questions (with only 115 scored while the other 5 are pre-test questions) in around 3 hours. 

To pass, you’ll need a score of 75% or higher. 

NOTE: You can confirm if your testing score indicates “Pass” here. 

Step #4: Apply for Your MLO License in South Dakota

Now it’s time to apply for your South Dakota MLO license. 

Again, you can complete it through your NMLS account. 

For this, you’ll have to fill up and submit an Individual Form MU4. 

Here’s how to do that: 

  1. Head over to your NMLS account.
  1. Click the ‘Filing’ tab.
  1. Click the ‘Individual’ link.
  1. Select the ‘Request New/Update’ button to generate your Individual Form MU4. 
  1. Choose ‘South Dakota’ and ‘Mortgage Loan Originator’ for your license filing. 
  1. Fill up the ‘Identifying Information’ portion. This will include:
    1. Other Names – Indicate any name you’ve used since you were 18.
    2. Residential History – Indicate your residences with no gaps for the past ten years.
    3. Employment History – Indicate all your employment details for the past ten years with no gaps. Students may write their school and school’s address in years where applicable. Those unemployed may write ‘Unemployed’ under ‘Position Held’ in years where applicable.
    4. Other Businesses 
  1. Answer disclosure questions. Provide details and (if necessary) documents for each question you answered ‘Yes’ to in the ‘Disclosure Explanations’ section. 
  1. Request a Federal Criminal Background Check. You must choose between the ‘Use Existing Prints’ OR ‘Submit New Prints’ options. You must also answer the necessary demographic questions.
NOTE: If you need to submit new prints, go to the NMLS Fieldprint website and create an account to schedule a fingerprint appointment. 

Once your fingerprints are taken, they will be submitted to the NMLS for review. 
  1. Request a Credit Report. You have to turn on the ‘Completeness Check’ icon on the top right corner of the screen. You also have to go through the Identity Verification Process (IDV).
  1. Review your application for blank fields and errors.
  1. Proceed to ‘Attest and Submit’ your application. 
  1. Pay all the required fees. 
NMLS Initial Application$30
South Dakota License/Registration$150
Criminal Background Check$36.25
Credit Report $15

Step #5: Find a Company for Employment Sponsorship

You’re almost done!

The last step you’ll need to do is get sponsored by an employee. 

In South Dakota, this can either be a registered mortgage lender, mortgage broker, or exempt mortgage company in the state. 

If you’re already employed, then it will just be a matter of time before you can start practicing as an MLO in South Dakota. 

If not, then you’ll have to go out and look for employment. 

NOTE: A good employee will usually look for someone with a Bachelor’s degree and some experience in the real estate field. 

Now, you need to have your employer request sponsorship for you through the NMLS. 

The South Dakota Division of Banking will review the request and either accept or decline it. 

If accepted, then you can start practicing!

Also, don’t forget to update your employment history and company sponsorship details in the Individual Form Mu4. 

And there you have it!

That is how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in South Dakota. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mortgage Loan Officers in South Dakota

What Are Some Reminders for the SAFE MLO Test?

Here are some reminders for taking your SAFE MLO test in-person or online:

Be at the test center 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

This gives you enough time to prepare and submit to all check-in protocols.

Prepare your valid government ID. (Driver’s License, Passport, or Military Card)
Ensure you choose a clean and quiet environment where you may be alone. 

Prepare your computer by uninstalling VPNs and firewalls.

You may keep two pieces of clean tissue paper at your desk.
Leave your belongings at the designated counters/lockers. 

Test-takers cannot bring cellphones, laptops, books, or notebooks. 

Do not bring calculators. The test center will lend you one.
Download the necessary ProProctor App for your computer.

Download the ProProctor App for Windows.
Download the ProProctor App for Mac OS.
Have your photo taken for registration.Let the ProProctor App know when you need a bathroom break.
Always abide by the Candidate Agreement. Always abide by the Candidate Agreement.

How Do I Renew My MLO License in South Dakota?

You have to renew your South Dakota MLO license before December 31 of every year. 

Also, you must already file for renewal through the NMLS before December 1 to avoid any penalty fees. 

Now, to renew, you must complete 8 hours of MLO continuing education (except for the year you received your MLO license).

If you need to change any information in the NMLS, you must also submit an amendment and pay additional fees. 

You can check the amendment and fee information here. 

How Much Do MLOs Make in South Dakota?

According to Salary.com, MLOs in South Dakota earn an average of $57,225 a year (as of September 2023). This range falls between $49,430 to $67,388.

Of course, you can earn more or less depending on many factors, such as the company you work for, your workload, the city you work in, your experience, and much more. 

But rest assured, the higher you go in rank, the more you will earn. 


And that is your complete guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in South Dakota. 

It wasn’t so bad, right?

If you just follow the steps slowly but surely, you’ll be able to go through it all.

The next thing you know, you can start practicing as a mortgage loan officer in the state. 

You can start reaping the benefits of a rewarding career. 

So what are you waiting for?

It’s SUPER easy to get started!

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