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How to Become a Mortgage Broker: Education, Licensing & Salary

Learn how to become a mortgage broker

Mortgage brokers guide people to the right home loan, helping people from all backgrounds achieve homeownership, which is seen as a pillar of American prosperity and financial freedom. In this article, we’ll describe all the most important aspects of how to become a mortgage broker so you can make the right decision on this career path. We’ll answer a wide variety of questions and address many common issues, including:

How to Become a Mortgage Broker

When becoming a mortgage broker, there are some very specific steps you need to follow, including mortgage broker training. All mortgage brokers need to be licensed and qualified to work in their states, so the path to this career is very specific and coordinated.

  1. Complete a high school diploma
  2. Earn a college degree; most mortgage brokers hold a bachelor degree
  3. Complete pre-license & mortgage broker classes
  4. Pass the NMLS test
  5. Register for mortgage brokerage
  6. Apply for mortgage broker license
  7. Continue your education & maintain licensing

What Does a Mortgage Broker Do?

If you want to become a mortgage broker, you need to understand what these professionals do. But to fully understand what a mortgage broker does, it helps to analyze the terms “mortgage” and “broker.”

A mortgage is essentially an industry term for a home loan or property loan. Any time a bank, credit union, or financial institution lends money so that a borrower can purchase a property, be it a personal home, commercial site, or undeveloped land, it’s known as a “mortgage.” In a mortgage, the home being purchased acts as collateral. This means that if the borrower can’t repay, the lender has a legal right to seize the property and resell it, a process known as “foreclosure.” (While they receive lots of media attention, foreclosures are actually quite rare.)

A broker is simply someone who facilitates a deal between two different parties, essentially acting as a mediator in a negotiation, transaction, or agreement of some kind. The term is commonly applied in stocks; “stockbrokers” are people who facilitate the sales of company shares and other stock investments. There are also insurance brokers who help connect insurance companies with clients, as well as merchandise brokers, who facilitate the sales of goods without ever possessing or owing the product.

A mortgage broker is someone who facilitates the connection between property buyers and an organization that can provide financing.

A mortgage broker works with a borrower to find the best possible loan for their purchase. They will determine the right loan amount, one that is within the borrower’s budget, allows the borrower to meet their goals, and is likely to be approved by the bank. They will consider a variety of factors, including the borrowers debt load, income, past relationship with debt, and numerous other issues.

Once complete, the mortgage broker is paid a commission on the loan. This commission is often called an “origination fee.” In many cases, a mortgage broker only gets paid once the loan transaction is complete. Therefore, it’s essential that they find loans that work not only for the borrower, but for the bank or credit union as well.

Understanding Common & Confusing Terms

A mortgage broker has many different roles that can be similar to other positions in the industry. Therefore, it helps to look at a few of these terms:

Mortgage Underwriter
A mortgage underwriter is a professional who makes sure a borrower has accurately and completely represented their financial profile on an application. They usually work directly for the bank or credit union, and often review loan applications for both legal compliance and accuracy.

Loan Officer
Unlike a mortgage broker, a loan officer works directly for a specific financial institution. They review documents, recommend mortgage options, and originate loans on behalf of the bank or credit union. The main difference is that loan officers can only access the loans offered by their institution, while mortgage brokers can offer loans from multiple groups, providing greater variety to consumers.

Mortgage Originator
This is more of an umbrella term used loosely in the industry. Anyone who originates a home loan could be considered a mortgage originator, which means both loan officers and mortgage brokers could fall under this term.

Mortgage Broker Education

To become a mortgage broker, you do not need an advanced degree. Unlike, say, architects, lawyers, nurses, or engineers, to work as a mortgage broker you only need a small amount of post-high-school classes. However, college course, including an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, are useful when you’re trying to establish yourself in a new career path.

Step 1: Complete High School and/or Equivalency

The first initial step is to complete a high school degree or equivalency. If you haven’t completed this step, there are many online courses available that can seamlessly guide you through this process.

Step 2: Complete Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

Many mortgage brokers have two-year associate degrees or bachelor degrees that relate to the industry. While not required, they can be an important part of establishing a successful career. Possible majors and minors are seemingly endless, but courses in business, real estate, finance, and economics are excellent choices. As a mortgage broker, you will be essentially in charge of your own business, so an associate’s degree in business administration, as an example, would be an ideal choice.

Step 3: Pre-License Classes

The next phase to become a mortgage broker, and one that is required for anyone who wants to become a mortgage broker, is to complete pre-license classes. These classes directly relate to the profession and prepare you for mortgage broker license testing, which is a requirement regardless of where you live and work.

To become a mortgage broker, you need to complete the right courses. Mortgage broker pre-license course are usually 20-hour educational classes that review a wide variety of topics crammed into a short and efficient platform. While the specifics can vary depending on the organization delivering the education, mortgage broker classes are usually delivered in 5-hour blocks through four days within a single week. For example, you may complete five hours of classes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. These courses generally cost somewhere between $400 and $600, so they are relatively affordable compared to many other educations.

Exactly what you study will vary slightly, but you should expect this short education to cover topics that include federal law and regulations. You’ll also study the ethics of mortgage lending, a topic that encompasses fraud, consumer rights, and fair lending. There will also, in most cases, be standards and other subjects, usually related to a specific state.

Once you have completed the pre-licensing courses, your education, at least for starting the career, is complete. You’ll now have the ability to test for licensing. This is a simple process, but it does change by state. For example, how to become a mortgage broker in Texas is different than, say, Oregon, Maine, or Tennessee.

Your education, however, is not complete. This career is constantly changing, so you’ll need to continue your education through organizations like the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, which hosts seminars, events, and more.

Licensing & Certification

A mortgage loan originator license is critical for mortgage brokers. Because a home is, for almost all people, the most expensive purchase they will ever make, the mortgage is by far the largest loan they’ll ever use. People who facilitate the use of mortgages have been deemed by governments as critically important to an individual’s finances and long-term financial stability. They are required, therefore to be licensed by the state.

Mortgage brokers are licensed through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS), which oversees testing for anyone who wants to become a mortgage broker.

Each state has different requirements and details beyond NMLS licensing. To demonstrate the differences, let’s look at three different state requirements for how to get NMLS license.

How to Become a Mortgage Broker in Florida

In the state of Florida, licensing is required for any person or group that is participating in the origination of loans. The license must be obtained through one of the licensed loan originators employed by the mortgage broker, or as an independent contractor to the broker. The process includes a background check and other inspections.

Getting Your Mortgage Broker License in California

To obtain a mortgage broker license in California, you will need to work through the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. This office can help you get the mortgage loan origination license and obtain your mortgage broker license California.

As you can see, the requirements for how to get NMLS license vary by state, so you’ll need to check the requirements for a mortgage broker career in your area. You can check with your state offices or consult groups, such as the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, for more information.

Texas Licensure Process

In the state of Texas, mortgage loan origination is supervised by the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner. However, you may also have to work through the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending to obtain a license.

Career Outlook: Salary, Job Growth & Working in the Industry

Advantages of this Career

There are many reasons to become a mortgage broker, but the most obvious are a large potential mortgage underwriter salary (which we will describe below) and a relatively fast entry point. The education requirements for this career are minimal, so anyone who has a limited education but would like to enter a lucrative career may find this job attractive. Compared to many other careers, especially jobs with high potential pay, the chance to get a mortgage loan originator license and work in this field is a top advantage.

But there are also day-to-day advantages that you will enjoy when you become a mortgage broker. For starters, as a trained mortgage professional, you’ll have numerous job opportunities with a wide range of potential companies. You could, of course, work for yourself and create your own mortgage origination company. Or you could work for another mortgage firm or for a private lender. (If you work for a lender you would technically be a loan officer, not a broker.) You could find work for banks and credit unions, and you could even work for a mortgage investment company.

This job also gives you the chance to work with many different people from all sorts of backgrounds. You’ll help people fund the purchase of a life-changing property, one that will shelter their families, possibly for decades. This is a type of job satisfaction that is hard to achieve with other careers.

The career also gives you flexible work hours, so if you’d prefer something different than a typical Monday-through-Friday, nine-to-five schedule, perhaps becoming a mortgage broker would be a good choice.

Disadvantages

This career has excellent advantages, but there are also real challenges after you become a mortgage broker, challenges that could make the job frustrating for many people. For starters, the job is high in competition. At its core, this is a sales job, which means you need to be constantly hustling and bustling to find leads, meet with potential clients, and convince them that using a loan through you is the best choice. Nothing is guaranteed; you may give your best sales performance and still lose the deal. This high-pace, competitive atmosphere is exhilarating for some, deflating for others.

A potential disadvantage, albeit one that is difficult to quantify, is job growth. While the BLS does not provide job information on mortgage brokers specifically, they do provide data on loan officers, a slightly different but similar career. According to their research, loan officers are expected to grow by only 3%; this compares slightly lower than the expected national job growth of 4%. Why is there stagnant growth? The BLS says that “increased use of productivity-enhancing technology in loan processing are expected to slow employment growth.” Basically, using modern technology and software, a loan originator can do more in less time; what could have been done by 10 loan officers, say, can now be done by 6. (These numbers are just an example.) This will decrease the need for more professionals in this sphere.

Mortgage Broker Salary

Mortgage broker salaries and mortgage loan officer commission are, like job growth, difficult to pin down and, according to our research, vary widely. Because the job is so similar to loan officers and many of the skills are the same, we can start there. Loan officers have a median salary of $63,690, while the top 10% earn more than $133,000. It seems if you understand how to originate loans for home buyers, you stand to earn a strong salary.

But it’s possible the potential earning for this career are even higher. ZipRecruiter, one of the largest online job portals, says that mortgage brokers have an average annual salary of $77,202, while Indeed claims the “latest average base salary” for a mortgage broker is $133,750. The exact mortgage broker salary is hard to define, but it appears there is massive potential for outstanding earnings.

All of these sources show that the general mortgage underwriter salary should be fairly high. But it’s important to not that much of the earnings are based on mortgage loan officer commission. Your earnings will be, essentially, not a fixed amount but instead based on how hard you work, how good you are at the job, and how many loans you finalize. If you want a guaranteed salary, this is not for you, but if you want unlimited earning potential, you may want to consider mortgage broker classes from a leading institution.

Launch A New Career Today!

You have what it takes to meet the mortgage broker qualifications, you just need the right education and courses. Whether you want to complete a bachelor’s degree in business administration or need to jump right into a mortgage broker license course, online education can make your journey easier! Start in our database of accredited online degrees and find your perfect program.

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