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How to Become a Mortgage Loan Officer in 2021

Jan 18, 2021


If you’re interested in becoming a mortgage loan officer, you probably already know at least a bit about the position. In short, you should know that it can be demanding, challenging, even stressful, and there’s a host of general business skills that benefit or can be critical to long-term and significant success.

Many skills can be learned on the job. Others, such as being a “people person” or being unafraid of “working” a room or holding your own in the company of attorneys or financial planners, are not critical, yet will help when it comes to generating referral business in some of the more traditional fashions.

Still interested? Good!

For many, it’s an amazing opportunity and one that can be very financially rewarding. This is especially true vs. so many other career paths that young business-minded individuals can take. It can even be a great “second” career for someone looking for a change or returning to the workforce after an absence.

Being a loan officer is not just a starting position, as you can climb the corporate ladder in some banks and mortgage companies. That’s even actually pretty common for accomplished mortgage loan originators. Stepping up to sales or branch manager positions, then regional management can be typical.

Suppose you’re interested in a career path that rewards you immediately and commensurately to how hard, long, or skillful you are willing or able to work; even a first step position can be a great choice.

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After the credit crisis of 2008, things changed. No longer could you merely survive an interview, get a little training, have business cards printed the next day and be shooed out the door to sink or swim with a slap on the back and a hardy “now go out and get some deals.”

It’s best to know where you might like to work as a mortgage loan originator. There are many different lending institutions—banks, mortgage banks, mortgage brokers, credit unions, etc.

Some may offer only traditional mortgage loan products such as conventional fixed and adjustable-rate loans. Others may specialize in government loans such as FHA or Veterans Administration (VA) products. Still, others may offer or at least provide access to almost everything, including much less common home loan options like construction financing or even reverse mortgages.

As well, depending on the area price ranges and demographics, having options for “jumbo” and “superjumbo” loan amounts can be vital if you want to target the high-end and high-net-worth borrowers.

Having a friend in the industry, or getting to know a couple of mortgage loan originators or mortgage brokers, can be extremely helpful in learning how various companies work. Getting a feel for different styles is helpful, too, so always ask if a mortgage company is oriented to doing business online through lead generation or more through client and business referral partners, such as real estate agents, builders, attorneys, CPAs and financial planners.

Chances are that if you don’t already have a few mortgage industry friends or followers in your social media accounts, you can ask your contacts if they have any. Most good originators should be happy to help you and may even set you up to speak with a manager for an initial conversation.

And once you reach that point of starting to talk with those looking for new hires, today, there will be a few phone and face to face interviews. You may be asked about certain aptitudes, and you’ll need to study and take a test (the NMLS SAFE Act MLO Exam). There will undoubtedly be both general and employer-specific mortgage loan origination software training to take. And before being licensed, you’ll need to have your fingerprints taken and pass a background and credit check.

If it sounds like there’s a bit of a hurdle to entry in this business, there is. But that’s for a good reason, and it can still be very worth your while.

Once you’ve passed your test, are trained and are ready to hit the street or the keyboard and phone, get ready. Working as a loan officer can be fast-paced and exhilarating day to day, with ups, downs and everything in between. There’s always something to do or that you can be doing to build your new business. Typically, you’ll work more like an entrepreneur striving to win and prosper at every turn.

The rewards can come quickly. And just think about the benefits of largely being your own boss, working hard as long as you are willing to, mixing up your day with everything from the sales-related activities out of the office to pushing your latest application through to processing and underwriting.

The rewards are not just financial or goal-oriented either. The smile on new homebuyers’ faces as they are handed the keys at their closing and thank you for your guidance and effort are worth more than you can know. And that’s especially true as they become your clients for life and, along with that, refer their family, friends and co-workers so they can have the same experience you provide too.

If you’re still with me, give it a shot. Hit your socials or dial up your friend in the business and start asking questions today. Once you’re in, it’s far easier to stay. And once you’re good, employers will be knocking on your door, looking to lure you away with ever more competitive pay packages. Everyone loves to be wanted, everyone loves to be needed, and the mortgage industry is a place you can have all that and more.

There are ways to make getting your business up and running as quickly and professionally as possible easier. Have those conversations or first interviews, and then request a demo with Surefire. You’ll see how rewarding it can be to hit the ground running and have so much of your work already done for you. Best of luck in your new potential career!

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