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

Last updated on July 25, 2023

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

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So you want to become a mortgage loan officer in North Carolina…

But you don’t know where to start. 

We got you. 

Here, we’re going to walk you through the steps on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in North Carolina. 

We’ve summarized the entire application in 5 easy-to-follow steps. 

We also answer some FAQs. 

You’ll have all the information on one page…

You no longer need to scroll through walls of text or jump from website to website. 

So here is your simple yet complete guide!

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer in North Carolina – The 5 Steps to Licensure

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

  1. Create an NMLS account and get your ID number
  2. Compete MLO pre-licensure education requirements
  3. Take and pass the SAFE MLO exam
  4. Apply for your North Carolina MLO license 
  5. Get your employer to confirm sponsorship 

Let’s get to the details.

Step #1: Create an NMLS Account and Get Your ID Number

But wait…

What is NMLS?

NMLS stands for Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. This online system is used by mortgage and finance regulators throughout the country. 

This is where they track and maintain state licensing programs. 

As for you, you will be using NMLS to apply for your license, track your application status, renew your license, and much more. 

So it’s no wonder the first step is to create (or request) an account with NMLS

When you successfully register, you will be given a unique identifier or ID number. Remember this number because you’ll be using this for all the licensing forms and your future employer’s reference.

NOTE: You can find your ID number in the ‘Composite View’ and ‘View Individual’ in your NMLS account. 

Step #2: Complete MLO Pre-Licensure Education Requirements 

Don’t worry.

You don’t have to spend too much time fulfilling the pre-licensure education requirements in North Carolina. 

In fact, only 24 hours of coursework is needed. 

And the best part?

You can choose to take it online!

Just make sure that the pre-licensure education has the following:

  • 2 hours of Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending
  • 3 hours of Federal Law
  • 3 hours of Ethics
  • 4 hours of North Carolina Laws and Regulations (this is required by the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks)
  • 12 hours of general electives

Don’t know where to take the courses?

Here are some great online providers approved by NMLS: 

Step #3: Take and Pass the SAFE MLO Exam

Passing the SAFE MLO exam is required for ALL MLO applicants nationwide. 

This exam is administered by Prometric

Now, when it comes to the SAFE MLO exam, you first have to register and schedule before you can sit for it. 

So here is how to register/schedule:

  • Create a ‘New Test Enrollment Window’ by heading over to the ‘Test and Education’ tab.
  • Add to cart the ‘National and North Carolina State State component’ or ‘National and Stand-alone UST component’.
NOTE: Keep in mind that you’ll need to take the test within the 180-day window. If you don’t take the test (or didn’t pass), you need to create another enrollment window.
  • Accept the Candidate Test Security and the Confidentiality Agreement.
  • Go over to the invoice page and pay the $110 exam fee. You can use a bank account or credit card. 

What to Expect from the SAFE MLO Exam

When you schedule, you can choose to take it online or in one of Prometric’s testing centers. 

Whichever you chose, make sure that you read and fulfill the terms and conditions for each one. 

Now, the SAFE MLO exam is a 120-point multiple-choice test. 

Out of the 120 questions, only 115 are scored — while 5 are used as pilot surveys. 

It’s important to know that these 5 pilot questions are placed within the exam proper. So there’s no way you’ll know which are graded and which are not.

How long does the exam take?

Well, you’re given a total of 225 minutes for the session. But only 190 minutes are allotted to answering the questions. 

The other 35 minutes are used for briefings, tutorials, and surveys.

Don’t stress!

The test will cover everything you’ve learned from your pre-licensure education.

Here’s a preview:

  • Mortgage Loan Origination Activities – 27%
  • Federal Mortgage-Related Laws – 24%
  • General Mortgage Knowledge – 20%
  • Ethics – 18%
  • Uniform State Content – 11%

You need a grade of at least 75% to pass the Safe MLO exam. That means getting at least 87 correct answers. 

Reminders for Exam Day

Whether you take the SAFE MLO exam online or at a center, keep these reminders in mind: 

  • You need a current government-issued ID with your photo and signature.
  • Be early — it’s best to be present at least 30 minutes before your schedule.
  • You are not allowed to use your own calculator. This will be provided if needed.
  • Personal items such as cell phones, hats, wallets, coats, books, and watches are not allowed in the testing room. You will be asked to show and empty your pockets before entering.
  • You are allowed to take breaks, but your timer will continue running.
  • You can request special accommodations ahead of time if you have disabilities.
  • If you take the SAFE MLO exam online, you need to request this separately via NMLS and wait for at least 5 business days to get approval.

Step #4: Apply for Your North Carolina MLO License

It’s finally time to apply!

For this, you’ll need to complete Individual Form MU4 through NMLS. 

Here’s how to fill up the form:

  • Head over to Filing > Individual > Request/New Update. 
  • Provide the information listed below:
    • State of licensure – North Carolina
    • Type of licensure – Mortgage Loan Originator 
    • Name and any other names you’ve used after turning 18
    • Residential history
    • Employment or school history
    • Other businesses you were involved in 
  • Go through the disclosure questions and answer them accurately. 
NOTE: For any ‘yes’ answer, you need to give an explanation and, if necessary, provide a supporting document. You can do this in the ‘Disclosure Explanations’ section. 
  • Authorize a Criminal Background Check (CBC) by choosing ‘Use Existing Prints’ or ‘Submit New Prints’. 
NOTE: If you have no prints on file, you need to ‘Submit New Prints’. For that, you have to go to the NMLS Fieldprint, create an account, and schedule a fingerprinting appointment. 

Once your prints are taken, Fieldprint will automatically upload them to the NMLS. 
  • Authorize a Credit Report by turning on the Completeness Check icon at the top right corner. You must also complete, attest, and submit the Identity Verification Process (IDV).
  • Submit your Individual Form MU4 and pay the fees through your bank account or credit card. 
The NMLS North Carolina fees are as follows:

NMLS Initial Processing Fee – $30
North Carolina Application Fee – $125
Criminal Background Check Fee – $36.25
Crepti Report Fee – $15
TOTAL FEE – $206.25

Now, if there are hits on your criminal background check or credit report, you’ll have to submit additional documents. 

These are:

  • For credit report explanations under the Document Upload section in the Individual Form MU4  — a detailed letter explaining derogatory credit accounts along with proof of payoffs, payments arrangements, etc…
  • For Criminal Background Check under the Document Upload section in Individual Form MU4 — upload documentation showing proof of plea, disposition, and severity of incidents. 
NOTE: You can also submit your Criminal Background Check Documentation straight to the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks. Just email them through secure email at: MLO@nccob.gov.

For more information on this, you can read through the complete North Carolina checklist. 

Step #5: Get Your Employer to Confirm Sponsorship

Once you fulfill Steps 1 to 4, your MLO license status will show “Approved-Inactive”. 

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

You first need to go out and find an employer. OR, if you’re already employed, have them request sponsorship through NMLS right away. 

Either way, the North Carolina Office of the Commissioners of Banks will review your employer’s sponsorship request. 

If approved, your MLO license status will change to “Approved-Active”. 

If you just newly got hired, then you’ll also need to update your employment history information in the Individual Form MU4. 

And that’s it!

You are now a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in North Carolina!

Just note that North Carolina does not issue paper licenses. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mortgage Loan Officers in North Carolina

Who Does Not Need an MLO License in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, you’re exempt from an MLO license if you have an active federal registration. 

You also don’t need an MLO license if you’re solely a loan processor or underwriter, only perform real estate broker activities, are solely involved in extensions of credit or sale, etc…

For the complete list of who needs an MLO license and who doesn’t, you can read through the North Carolina checklist here. 

How Much is an MLO License in North Carolina?

Here is a breakdown of all the expenses you’ll need to pay to get your North Carolina MLO license:

  • Pre-Licensure Education: around $200 – $500
  • SAFE MLO Exam: $110
  • NMLS Initial Processing Fee – $30
  • NC Application Fee: $125
  • Criminal Background Check: $36.25
  • Credit Report Preparation: $15
  • TOTAL FEE: $516.25 to $816.25

How Much Do MLOs Earn in North Carolina?

According to Intuit, MLOs in North Carolina earn an average of $88,500 a year (as of August 2023). 

The lowest recorded salary for MLOs in NC is around $25,500 a year, while the highest one reached $301,000. 

As for you, your salary will depend on commission, your employer, your location, your experience, your workload, and so much more. 

But rest assured, you’ll have great earning potential as a mortgage loan officer. 

What Mortgage Companies Should I Consider Joining?

Of course, the company you work for will depend on YOUR needs and preferences. 

However, to help you get started, here are a few reputable mortgage companies in North Carolina:


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

What are you waiting for?

You can get started right away!

I mean, the first step is as simple as creating an account. 

Best of luck to you!

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