How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer in Pennsylvania

By Ciprian Morariu Published: July 3, 2024

Mortgage Loan Officer in Pennsylvania

The Career Path of a Mortgage Loan Officer

Who is a Mortgage Loan Officer

Mortgage loan officers (MLO) are licensed professionals working in banks, credit companies, and lenders. They help buyers secure mortgage loans to finance their homes.  

Mortgage loan officers play a pivotal role in helping buyers achieve their dreams of owning a home. More specifically, they help homeowners find the most suitable and feasible home loan plan.

A mortgage loan officer has a rewarding and satisfying career path. 

Did you know that the average annual salary of an MLO in Pennsylvania is around $75K? 

In Philadelphia, experienced MLOs earn around $120K a year apart from $30K on commissions.  

Loan officers get multiple opportunities to earn commissions and enjoy additional perks as part of their job. This is why many professionals find this job role as an attractive career path. 

Are you interested in working as a loan officer without getting a graduation degree? 

If yes, then read this comprehensive guide on how to become a mortgage loan officer in Pennsylvania

Let’s start with the role and responsibilities of a mortgage loan officer. 

Understanding the Role of a Mortgage Loan Officer

Responsibilities of a Mortgage Loan Officer

Understanding what you will be doing on a daily basis as a MLO is important to know what you will be signing up for. 

MLOs work with banks, credit companies, and financial institutions of varying scale and size. 

Your job duties and objectives might vary based on your workplace and employer’s discretion. Typically, it involves client meetings, internal discussions, and completing paperwork and documentation.  

Let’s look at some of the most key responsibilities of a loan officer: 

  • Work with banks and financial institutions to originate mortgage loans for clients.
  • Collect the required finance and personal documents and paperwork for applying for a mortgage loan.
  • Evaluate the financial health of applicants based on their income, financial background, and creditworthiness. 
  • Conducting meetings, and interviews and performing research as needed to ensure the provided information is accurate and complete.
  • Help clients understand the various financial aspects involved in getting a mortgage loan. 
  • Educate applicants and customers about various mortgage loans, plans, interest rates, and requirements.
  • Assist clients in understanding, comparing, and choosing between various mortgage loan products and services to best match their needs.
  • Provide personalized attention and guidance to clients during various stages of obtaining a loan and answering their queries. 
  • Collaborate with internal stakeholders, professionals, and team members to ensure timely and seamless dispersal of finances. 
  • Ensure timely compliance with all regulatory guidelines. 
  • Informing clients about the key milestones and important updates related to their mortgage loan application. 

Let us now evaluate the skills required to become a successful MLO. 

Skills Needed to Become a Successful Mortgage Loan Officer

Mortgage loan officers work at the intersection of two industries - mortgage (financing) and real estate. 

Therefore, it is a must for aspiring loan officers to keep themselves informed about the Pennsylvania rules and regulations. 

The preferred skill sets of a Pennsylvania MLO are as follows:

  • Thorough knowledge of finance and accounting
  • In-depth understanding of Pennsylvania real estate laws
  • Strong sales and interpersonal abilities
  • Well-established customer service mindset
  • Knowledge of housing laws, mortgage regulations, and real estate principles
  • Understanding financial analysis and forecasting
  • Market research abilities
  • Strong organizational abilities and analytical bent of mind
  • Knowledge of loan products, services, interest rates, and mortgage types
  • Proficiency in working in a dynamic, fast-paced environment

Further, employers might stipulate a degree in finance, accounting, or mathematics for MLOs as well as industry experience.   

Prospects and Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Mortgage loan officers review loan applications, assess credit history, and decide whether loans may be sanctioned.  

While starting a career might seem overwhelming there are clear steps that you can follow. 

We will now explore the requirements for getting a mortgage loan originator license in Pennsylvania

How to Obtain a Mortgage Loan Originator License in Pennsylvania

Required Education and Training

The Pennsylvania Department of Real Estate mandates that all aspiring MLOs must complete pre-licensing education to get a license.  

To do so, you must complete 20 hours of state-approved pre-licensing coursework from a real estate school, college, or online course. 

Completing this training is mandatory for all applicants, irrespective of their background or educational qualifications. `

Taking the NMLS Pre-Licensing Course

The following are the subjects of the 20-hour Pennsylvania SAFE course. 

  • Federal Law (3 hours)
  • Ethics (3 hours)
  • Non-Traditional Mortgage Lending (2 hours)
  • Elective Courses (12 hours)

Additionally, you must complete 3 hours of PA-specific education as part of your education. 

The coursework imparts knowledge about the various mortgage lending laws, rules, and regulations.

Passing the NMLS National and State Component Tests

After completing the NMLS pre-licensing education, you become eligible for the SAFE test. 

Before you take the exam, you must register with the NMLS and obtain your unique NMLS identification number. 

You can schedule the SAFE MLO exam on the NMLS website at your convenience. 

The SAFE test has multiple choice questions covering state and national-specific portions.  

To pass the NMLS mortgage licensing exam, you need to score at least 75 percent or higher. 

Completing the Background Checks

The state of Pennsylvania requires all applicants to complete mandatory background verification and criminal background checks. 

Once you have created your NMLS account, you can initiate the background check process through the NMLS portal online. 

Submit an electronic copy of your fingerprints by scheduling an appointment at a state-approved fingerprinting center. 

Note that you will have to pay a onetime fee of $36.25 to get your electronic fingerprints and complete your criminal background check. 

Additionally, you will have to authorize a credit report and submit the same through the NMLS portal which will cost you $15. This is a mandatory step to becoming a state-licensed loan officer. 

Application Process for Mortgage Loan Originator License

Apply for an MLO license after completing the pre-licensing education and background verification checks.  

This is the penultimate step in completing all the MLO license requirements in Pennsylvania

To submit your MLO license application, you can log into the NMLS portal with your unique identification number and file the MU4 form (for state licensing) online. 

Select the individual option and click on request new option if you are applying for the first time. 

MLO License Requirements

Minimum Age Requirement

To apply for a mortgage loan originator license in Pennsylvania you must be at least 18 years of age or older. 

Mandatory Education and Work Experience

You must go through 20 hours of pre-licensing coursework from a state-approved education provider. 

The course curriculum must consist of 3 hours of course credit specific to Pennsylvania. 

You must also obtain a sponsorship from an employer who would be willing to hire you. 

To activate your mortgage license officer license, your employer must confirm your association with their firm or company. 

Once you obtain your employer sponsorship, you can connect it with your NMLS account online. 

Getting Fingerprints for Background Checks

Completing background verification and criminal history checks is a mandatory step to becoming a state-licensed mortgage loan officer.