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How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) in Wisconsin – A Step-By-Step Guide

Last updated on July 7, 2023

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

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If you want to work as a mortgage loan officer (also known as an originator), then you must first get an MLO license. 

Now, each state has different requirements.

And here, we’re going to focus on Wisconsin. 

We’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO) in Wisconsin. 

We won’t skip anything. 

This way, you’ll be able to complete the whole process without missing any vital details. 

So are you ready?

Let’s jump to it!

How to Become an MLO in Wisconsin – The 6 Steps You Need to Complete

Getting your MLO license (and, therefore, officially becoming a mortgage loan officer) may seem lengthy and complex. 

But it isn’t really — as you’ll see here. 

In fact, you only need to complete these 6 steps: 

  1. Set up an NMLS Account
  2. Obtain the necessary education
  3. Pass the MLO licensing exam
  4. Submit your MLO application 
  5. Get fingerprinted 
  6. Associate with an employer

Let’s see how to go through each step.

Step #1: Set Up an NMLS Account

You need an NMLS account if you want to enter the mortgage industry. The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) keeps a copy of your licensing information.

To set up an account, do the following:

  1. Go to the NMLS website. Since you don’t have an account yet, click on the ‘Request an Account’ below. 
  1. The page will ask you to indicate the type of account you’d like to create — select individual.
  1. After completing the security check, you’ll get to the Create an Individual User Account page. Fill out the required fields. Remember, you must use your full legal name. Ensure it’s something a government ID can confirm.
  1. Once you’ve finished the process, you will receive the following:
    • Your NMLS Username and Password (you’ll have to change this once you log in).
    • Your NMLS Unique ID Number (this is the number you’ll be using throughout your application and MLO career). 

Step #2: Obtain the Necessary Education

As a mortgage loan officer, your primary role is to get your client through the mortgage application process. It requires you to have a good understanding of mortgage laws and regulations.

An MLO pre-licensure education (PE) will provide you with all the necessary information. 

Now, in Wisconsin, you only need 20 hours of PE. This should cover the following: 

  • Lending standards of non-traditional mortgage product marketplaces (2 hours)
  • Federal law and regulations (3 hours)
  • Ethics, including instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues (3 hours)
  • Mortgage industry-related elective coursework (12 hours)

The great news is that you can complete the course online. 

Here are some highly recommended and approved online schools that offer PE:

  • The CE Shop: Offers three online packages — Course Only, Standard, and Premium
  • OnCourse Learning: Offers five packages and a stand-alone exam prep course.
  • Knowledge Coop: Offers an online course with instructor support.
  • Cape School: Offers two types of online instructor-led courses.
  • OnlineEd: Offers a complete package for only $250. Also has exam prep programs.

Step #3: Pass the MLO Licensing Exam

Next up is the licensing exam. To be more specific, the SAFE MLO test. 

The exam is a 120-item test administered by Prometric. Out of these, 115 contribute to your overall score, while 5 are just sample questions. 

You have 110 minutes to complete everything and must get 75% or higher to pass.

The questions cover the following areas:

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

You may take the test in person or online. Either way, you must register and schedule for it. 

To register, head over to your NMLS account and select ‘Test & Education’. From there, create and fill up a testing window and pay the test fee of $110. 

Once paid, you can schedule the test through Prometric

You can read through the MLO Testing Handbook for more details.   

Step #4: Submit Your MLO Application

To apply for an MLO license in Wisconsin, you need to complete Individual Form MU4 through NMLS. 

Here is how to do that: 

  1. Log in to your NMLS account, go to the ‘Filing’ tab, and click ‘Individual’ from the sub-menu.
  1. Click the ‘Request New/Update’ button to bring up the Individual Form MU4. 
  1. Prepare the following information and encode them when asked:
    • Your state
    • The type of license you’re applying for (MLO)
    • Identifying information
    • Other names you went as since you turned 18
    • Residential history
    • Employment or school record
    • Other businesses 
  1. Go through the disclosure questions. Don’t forget to explain any item you answered ‘yes’ to. You may also have to upload documents to match your explanation. 
  1. Authorize a Criminal Background Check by selecting ‘New Prints’ or “Use Existing Prints’. 
  1. Authorize a Credit Report by turning on the icon on the top right. 
  1. Complete an Identity Verification Process (IDV) for your Credit Report. 
  1. Submit the application. 
  1. Pay the fees:
    • NMLS initial processing fee – $30
    • Wisconsin application fee – $250
    • Criminal Background Check fee – $36.25
    • Credit Report fee – $15

Outside of the NMLS, you may also have to mail this completed Checklist to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

US Postal Service address:

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions 

Division of Banking 

PO Box 7876 

Madison, WI 53707-7876

Overnight Delivery address:

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions 

Division of Banking 

4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower 

Madison, WI 53705

NOTE: The checklist must be submitted within 5 business days of your electronic application submission. 

Step #5: Get Fingerprinted

If you already have existing prints, you don’t need to go through this step. 

But if you selected ‘New Prints’ in the Criminal Background Check authorization, you must complete it. 

For that, you need to create an account with the NMLS Fieldprint

When you have an account, you can schedule a fingerprinting appointment. 

Once your fingerprints are taken, the NMLS Fieldprint will upload them to the NMLS for checking. 

Step #6: Associate with an Employer

Get this. 

Your application won’t be approved until your employer requests sponsorship through NMLS. 

So while you go through the steps, you should also look for a licensed or registered mortgage banker, mortgage broker, or registered entity to work with. 

NOTE: It’s best to already have an employer before you submit your MLO application. 

Another important thing is that the branch or office should be located where you live, or at least within 100 miles of your residence. 

Now, a good way to boost your resume is to have a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. Also, it’s a big PLUS if you have some real estate experience already. 

Once you find employment, have your employer request sponsorship. 

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions will review the request and either accept or decline it. 

If accepted, then you’ll receive your MLO license. 


You did it!

Frequently Asked Questions About MLOs in Wisconsin

Do Veterans Pay the Same Fees to Get Their MLO License?

The Wisconsin Act 209, which took effect on July 1, 2012, enacts the Veterans License Fee Waiver Program. It allows veterans to receive a one-time waiver when they apply for their MLO license for the first time.

Instead of paying $230 for the application fee, you will only need to spend $30. However, you must ensure you secure the voucher before completing your application.

Here is the checklist for a veteran MLO license. 

How Much Do Mortgage Loan Officers Earn in Wisconsin?

Intuit states that mortgage loan officers in Wisconsin earn an annual average of $88,000 a year

Depending on many factors, the salary range can go from $31,500 to $24,000 a year. These salaries depend on experience, company, location, skills, etc. 

What Qualities Should a Mortgage Loan Officer Have?

Several things can increase your chances of succeeding as a mortgage loan officer. These include the following:

  • Being efficient
  • Building solid relationships with clients
  • Establishing credibility through industry and process knowledge
  • Translating mortgage jargon into terms the average borrower can understand

How Do I Know I Should Pursue a Career as an MLO?

You’re the only person who can decide whether being a mortgage loan officer is a career worth pursuing. However, understanding the ups and downs that come with the job can help you make that choice.

Eligibility is easy
There’s room for advancement
It’s a way to impact others’ lives significantly
The job can be repetitive
You may have to find your own leads


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

So are you ready to begin?

It all starts with creating an NMLS account. 

So easy!

Go ahead and get started today.

If you just follow the steps here, then you’ll soon receive your MLO license and can start practicing. 

Best of luck!

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