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

Last updated on July 7, 2023

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

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So you want to become a mortgage loan officer in Montana…

You’ll be happy to know that getting your MLO license is not complicated. 

And to make it even easier for you, we’ll walk you through ALL the steps required. 

We’ll show you the process from start to finish. 

Are you ready to learn how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Montana?

Let’s jump right to it!

NOTE: Mortgage loan officers are also referred to as mortgage loan originators. This is actually the main title, while “officer” is the shortened version. 

How to Become an MLO in Montana – The 6 Steps to Licensure

To get your MLO license in Montana, you need to complete these 6 steps:

  1. Register for an NMLS account
  2. Complete the required pre-licensure education
  3. Pass the SAFE MLO test
  4. Apply for your Montana MLO license
  5. Submit your fingerprints 
  6. Associate your NMLS account with an employer

So shall we go through them one by one?

Step #1: Register for an NMLS Account 

Throughout your MLO career, you’ll be using your NMLS (or Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System) account. And this is why the first step is to create an account with them. 

You can go here to request an Individual account. 

Once you’ve created an account, you will be provided with your NMLS Unique Identifier Number. Take note of the number because you’ll be using this for the entirety of your application and career.

Step #2: Complete the Required Pre-Licensure Education

Don’t worry. 

This won’t take long at all. 

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

However, you must make sure that the course has the following topics:

  • Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending (2 hours)
  • Federal Law (3 hours)
  • Ethics (3 hours)
  • Montana-specific related content (2 hours)
  • Related general electives (at least 10 hours) 

Moreover, you can take the courses online!

How convenient is that?

To help you, here are some approved online schools that offer PE:

Step #3: Pass the SAFE MLO Test

Up next is a licensing exam — called the SAFE MLO Test. 

Before you can sit for the test, you need to register and schedule. 

You register by creating an enrollment test window in the MLO Test & Education tab in your NMLS account. This test window will cost $110 and is valid for 180 days. 

Once registered, head over to Prometric’s website to schedule. Prometric is the country’s official administrator of the SAFE MLO test. 

Now you can take the test. 

The SAFE MLO test contains 120 multiple-choice questions. 115 questions are scored, while the 5 remaining are trial questions to be included in the next MLO test.

Each applicant will be given a total of 220 minutes, but only 190 minutes are allotted to answer the questions. 

Here’s a breakdown of the test’s makeup:

Uniform State Content11%
General Mortgage Knowledge20%
Federal Mortgage-Related Laws24%
Mortgage Loan Origination Activities27%

To pass the test, you need to score at least 75%, which is equivalent to 86 correct answers.

Step #4: Apply for Your Montana MLO License

It’s time to submit a mortgage loan officer license application!

For that, you must complete the Individual Form MU4 through NMLS. 

In your account, simply select ‘Filing’ > ‘Individual’ > ‘New Request/Update. This should bring you to the form. 

In the form, you’ll have to go through the following:

  • Select your state and license type (in your case, it will be Montana and Mortgage Loan Originator)
  • Provide your details, including identifying information, residential history, employment or school records, etc…
  • Answer disclosure questions – and provide an explanation and/or document supporting any ‘yes’ answers.
  • Select “New Prints” or “Use Existing Prints” to authorize a Criminal Background Check (CBC).
  • Turn on the Completeness Check icon on the top right corner to authorize a Credit Report. You must also complete the Identity Verification Process (IDV).
  • If you need to submit credit report explanations, make sure you provide a line-for-line letter of a derogatory credit account. You must also show proof of payoffs, payment arrangements,  bankruptcy, foreclosure actions, and the like. 
  • Submit the application and pay the fees:
    • NMLS initial processing fee – $30
    • Montana license/registration fee – $400
    • CBC – $36.25
    • Credit Report – 15

Now, there may be other documents that you need to submit outside of the NMLS. 

The first one is the Request Processing of Application This Calendar Year

If you submit your MLO application after November 1, the MT Division of Banking and Financial Institutions will put it on hold until the next year. 

But if you need your application to be approved sooner, you can email the form here: mortgagelicensing@mt.gov

However, note that the form requires you to pay the MLO license renewal fee on December 31 of the current calendar year. 

The other document you might have to submit outside the NMLS is a W-2 or 1099. This is a verification of experience showing 1½ or 3 years of experience. 

You submit this if you’re applying as a Qualified Individual (needs 3 years experience), Branch Manager (also 3 years), or Responsible Individual ( only requires 1½ years of experience).

NOTE: The W-2 or 1099 isn’t required if you’ve already been licensed through NMLS for the 1½ or 3 required years. 

Step #5: Submit Your Fingerprints

If you chose “New Prints” in the CBC authorization, then you’ll have to get fingerprinted. 

To do that, simply create an account with the NMLS Fieldprint website. From there, you can schedule an appointment. 

Once your prints are taken, they’ll automatically be uploaded to the NMLS for review. 

If you already have existing prints in the database, you don’t need to do this step.

Step #6: Associate Your NMLS Account with an Employer

When the MT Division of Banking and Financial Institutions approves your application, it will still be under an ‘Approved-Inactive’ status. 

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

You first need to find an employer that will sponsor you. 

This is when you go out and find a job with a registered mortgage brokerage. 

In fact, you should be looking for employment even before you begin Step 1 to make the process shorter. 

How do you make yourself stand out?

Well, a Bachelor’s degree in a related field won’t hurt. The same is true with some real estate experience. 

But don’t worry — those are not requirements. It’s just a way to make your resume more appealing. 

When you get hired, have your employer request sponsorship for you through the NMLS. 

If approved by the MT Division of Banking and Financial Institutions, your license status will change to ‘Approved-Active’. 

And you can start working as a mortgage loan officer in Montana. 


NOTE: Montana doesn’t issue paper licenses. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mortgage Loan Officers in Montana

How Much is an MLO License in Montana?

The overall cost you’ll spend for an MLO license in Montana is $891.25.

Here is the cost breakdown: 

  • Average pre-licensure education fee – $300
  • SAFE MLO test fee – $110
  • NMLS initial processing fee – $20
  • MT application/registration fee – $400
  • Criminal Background Check fee – $36.25
  • Credit Report fee – $15

How Much Do MLOs Earn in Montana?

On average, mortgage loan officers in Montana earn an annual salary of $43,721 (as of July 2023). This means you can earn around $37,236 all the way to $51,211 a year.

More experienced MLOs can even enjoy an annual salary of $216,118!

As for your salary, this will heavily depend on your company, location, experience, workload, etc…

How Many Times Can I Retake the SAFE MLO Test?

For one enrollment test window, you have 3 tries at the SAFE MLO Test. 

If you fail on your third attempt or pass the 180-day window validity, you have to create a new test window. And yes, this means repaying the $110 fee. 


So there you have it — how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Montana. 

It wasn’t too complicated, right?

If you just follow the steps we detailed here, you’ll be well on your way to being an MLO in the state. 

So what are you waiting for?

Go ahead and start with step 1. 

Good luck!

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