• Home
  • |
  • Blog
  • |
  • How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in Tennessee

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

Last updated on September 27, 2023

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

Quick note! RealEstateLicenseTraining is partnered with the best online real estate schools. When you sign up using our links, we may get a small affiliate commission. Read how we conduct our reviews here

So you want to enter into the world of mortgage loans?

Then why not start off by becoming a mortgage loan officer (also known as an MLO)?

This is a great starting point as it’s super easy to get an MLO license. 

And we’re going to help you with that. 

If you’re from Tennessee, then this complete guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Tennessee is for YOU. 

We’ll detail all the steps — this way, you know exactly what needs to be done. 

Plus, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions to give you even more information. 

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Mortgage loan officers and mortgage loan originators are the same thing. However, an originator can mean an officer or institution.  

How to Become an MLO in Tennessee – The 5 Steps to Licensure

To become a licensed MLO in Tennessee, you must complete these 5 steps: 

  1. Request an NMLS account.
  2. Fulfill a 20-hour pre-licensure education
  3. Register and pass the MLO exam
  4. Apply for your TN MLO license
  5. Find a sponsor

Looks easy enough, right?

If you need more details, let’s look at each step one by one. 

Step #1: Request an NMLS Account

The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) handles all MLO licenses in the US. 

Here, you do all your MLO license transactions, including application and renewal. 

So it’s no surprise that the first step is to request an account. 

Now, once you have an account, you’ll be given a unique identifier number that you’ll use regularly. This is like your ID number.

And that’s step 1. 

Too easy. 

Forgot your unique identifier number? No worries. You can find it in your NMLS dashboard under the Composite View > View Individual tab.

Step #2: Fulfill a 20-hour Pre-Licensure Education

You can’t become a good mortgage loan officer without any knowledge.

This is why you’re required to fulfill some studies. 

But again, it’s very simple. 

In Tennessee, you only need to complete 20 hours of MLO pre-licensure education. 

That’s right — only 20 hours.


Your 20 hours of studies should include the following: 

  1. 2 hours of Tennessee content (required by the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions)
  2. 2 hours of Non-Traditional or Advanced Mortgage Lending
  3. 3 hours on Federal Laws, especially those involving finances, properties, and taxes
  4. 3 hours on the Code of Ethics for Mortgage Loan Officers
  5. 10 hours of general electives 
Your pre-licensure education is valid for 3 years. You should secure your MLO license before that time or else you’ll have to redo the lessons. 

Want to hear good news?

You can complete your pre-licensure education online!

Talk about convenience. 

To make it even more convenient, we’ve listed some approved online schools that offer Tennessee pre-licensure education. These are:

  • The CE Shop – this school regularly offers great discounts for their packages. Plus, their packages are packed with great features.
  • Cape School – for just $268.50, you can get all the required courses. 
  • Knowledge Coop – this is the perfect school if you want Live lessons. You can attend the 20-hour basic lessons, and attend a 2-hour Tennessee content lesson. 

For other approved schools, you can check the complete list here. 

Step #3: Register and Pass the MLO Exam

It’s time to put your knowledge to the test.

In Tennessee, you can choose from 3 available exams:

  • National and Tennessee State Components of the SAFE Test
  • National and Stand-alone UST components of the SAFE Test
  • National Test Component with Uniform State Content

No matter which one you pick, you’ll first have to register for it through your NMLS account. 

Here is how to do that:

  1. Log into your NMLS account
  2. Press the ‘MLO Testing & Education’ tab.
  3. Choose ‘Create New Test Enrollment Window’ on the submenu.
  4. Add to cart your preferred exam from the 3 we mentioned above. 
  5. Declare your compliance with the Candidate Agreements.
  6. Pay the $110 test fee with a major credit or debit card. 

When that’s done, you should schedule an exam appointment with Prometric, the MLO test conductor. 

Now, to pass the exam, you’ll need a score of at least 75%. 

We answer more questions about this exam in the FAQ section below. So head over there if you need more information. 

Step #4: Apply for Your TN MLO License

You’re almost done!

Once you have an NMLS account, fulfilled the required education, and passed the MLO exam, you can now apply for your license. 

And yes, this is done through the NMLS too. 

Here’s how to apply for an MLO license in Tennessee: 

  1. Generate an Individual Form MU4 to fill out and submit. You can do this by clicking ‘Filing’ > ‘Individual’ > Request / New Update’ on your NMLS account. 
  1. Give your license and registration information. This will include your state (Tennessee) and what license you want (Mortgage Loan Originator).
  1. Provide personal information. This will include other names, residential history, employment history, other businesses, etc…
  1. Answer disclosure questions. You will have to provide an explanation and any supporting document for any ‘yes’ response.
  1. Request a Criminal Background Check. You must also provide demographic information. 
If you need to submit new fingerprints, you have to do it with the NMLS Fieldprint. 
  1. Request a Credit Report and turn on the Completeness Check icon. You need to complete the Identity Verification Process (IDV), too. 
  1. Attest and submit your Individual Form MU4. 
  1. Pay all the fees:
    1. NMLS initial licensing fee – $30
    2. TN license/registration fee – $100
    3. TN application fee – $100
    4. Credit report fee – $15
    5. Criminal Background Check fee – $36.25
    6. TOTAL FEE – $281.25

And there you have it. 

Step #5: Find a Sponsor

Okay, okay. 

When your MLO license application is approved, it will have an ‘Approved-Inactive’ status. 

You can’t practice as a mortgage loan officer just yet. 

To switch the status to ‘Approved-Active’, you must find a sponsor. 

This will be the company you work for. 

If you already work for a mortgage company, have your employee request sponsorship. 

If not, then now is the time to go out and look for employment. When you do get hired, let your employee request sponsorship right away. 

From there, the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions will review the request. 

If accepted, you can start working as a mortgage loan officer. 


You did it!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in Tennessee

Can I Take the MLO Exam Online?

Yes, you can!

However, you have to request for an online proctored test. Plus, you’ll have to fulfill all the requirements. 

You can find more information about the online proctored MLO test here. 

What Can I Expect from the MLO Test?

There are 120 questions in total. But only 115 are scored, while the remaining 5 are pre-test questions. 

You’re given roughly 3 hours to answer everything. 

To pass, you need to get 75% or higher. That means you’ll have to answer 87 items correctly. 

Now, Federal Mortgage-Related Laws make up the bulk of the test at 25%. Another 11% ask about Uniform State Content. 

What Should I Bring to My MLO Test?

Remember to bring at least one form of government identification that includes your full name, photograph, and signature. 

No photocopies or document printouts of name changes will be accepted on test day. 

Here are some other important details you must remember before taking your exam.

Take the test in personTake an online proctored test
Bring one of the following identification cards: 

*Valid driver’s license

*Valid passport 

*Valid military card

The name on your ID must match the name you used to schedule your appointment.
Before test day, you must download and install the proctor app.

Microsoft Proctor App

Mac OS Proctor App

Log in using your confirmation number and last name.

Disable any VPNs and firewalls. You can run a full system check here.
Be at the test center 30 minutes before the appointment to make time for check-in procedures.On test day, prepare your testing environment.

Choose areas that promote focus and aren’t congested with clutter or distracting.

You must also be alone.
Deposit all of your prohibited belongings, including the following:

*Cellular devices


*Personal calculators (they will be provided)



Keep all of your prohibited belongings in another room, including the following: 

*Cellular devices

*Personal calculators (they will be provided)



Get your photo taken for proper registration.Prepare your valid government ID and registration details. 
Take your test and remain compliant with the entire Candidate Agreement throughout. Launch the proctor app during your scheduled appointment time to take the exam.

What Do Mortgage Loan Officers Do?

Here are just some of the responsibilities of a mortgage loan officer in Tennessee:

  • Takes a residential mortgage loan application
  • Offers or negotiates terms for residential mortgage loans
  • Advising and assisting residential mortgage loans
  • Generating paperwork for mortgage loans
  • And much more!

How Much Does an MLO Make in Tennessee?

The yearly salaries between officers vary. However, an MLO’s annual income in Tennessee often ranges between $22,000 to $130,000 (as of September 2023). That gives it an average of around $61,000. 

Of course, there are a lot of factors when it comes to your salary. This can depend on your location, your company, your workload, your experience, and lots more. 

How Often Should an MLO in Tennessee Renew Their License?

Tennessee requires yearly renewal of MLO licenses. All you need to do is complete 8 hours of MLO CE, submit an application, and pay a renewal fee through the NMLS on or before December 31. 

However, Tennessee recommends officers apply for a renewal on or before November 1. Applying earlier allows them to continue practicing into the new year. 

Applying too late may delay your ability to practice legally (and it will have penalty fees, too). Operating as a mortgage loan officer with an expired license may even incur fines and penalties.  

Are You Ready to Get Started?

Now that you know how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Tennessee…

Are you ready to get started?

It’s so easy!

All you need to do is request an NMLS account — and this is just like creating any other social media account. 

From there, you can follow all the steps we detailed here. 

The next thing you know, you have an MLO license in the state and can start practicing. 

Best of luck!

Compare Real Estate Schools:

Additional real estate license guides you might like

January 16, 2024

Instead of just giving you the best California online real estate school, I’m going to

Best California Online Real Estate School – Top 8 Reviews

September 28, 2023

At first, becoming a mortgage loan officer might seem overwhelming.  How do you even begin?

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

September 28, 2023

So you want to become a mortgage loan officer in Vermont… But don’t know how

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