If you have been looking to work in the real estate industry, a career as a loan officer is arguably the best way to do it. You don’t have to pound the pavement like a real estate agent but still have the opportunity to make a comparable income.
The first step is to obtain a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license. The state of Washington requires that a person complete 22 total hours of Pre-license Education (PE) and pass the National Exam. The 22 total hours are broken up into 18 hours of national content and 4 hours of Washington state-specific content.
What All Mortgage Schools Share In Common
There are a lot of mortgage schools available to satisfy your PE courses. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. NMLS courses are not fun. They are not like other online courses you may have taken in the past. The reason is that mortgage schools must adhere to strict guidelines set by the NMLS to make sure that students are genuinely learning the material and minimize any academic dishonesty going on (aka cheating). So, if you find yourself with the urge of wanting to pull your hair out of frustration during the course, there’s a good chance that it was because the NMLS required it to be that way.
Here are some examples of how tightly the NMLS regulates these courses:
Annoying Password System
If you are taking an online Continuing Education course to renew your license, the NMLS requires you to authenticate your identity through a password verification system called BioSig-ID, where you use your mouse to draw your password rather than just typing it in. You have to do this every time you login, before you take the final exam, and at various points while you are working on the course.
With the initial Prelicensing Education (PE) courses, the NMLS doesn’t allow people to just sign up for the courses and study completely independently on their own. They require that you be placed in a cohort, or a group, of students with a dedicated instructor. The instructor doesn’t necessarily have to teach the class, but is there to track your progress and help you along the way. If you choose an online format, this typically comes in the form of messaging or chat. You are not required to actually see them or talk to them over the phone, but you will have to respond to their questions if they ask.
Mandatory Active Participation
The NMLS wants to make sure you are attentive and present throughout the entire course. You don’t have to worry about that in a classroom environment or with live webinars because the instructor can see you. However, it’s a different story with an online course, where you are essentially reading an online book. As a result, the NMLS requires that you log a minimum amount of hours online, and education providers are required to automatically log you out if there has been no activity for over 6 minutes.
What Makes One School Better Than The Rest
Although every mortgage school has to make their courses comply with these NMLS regulations, that doesn’t mean all schools are the same. There are definitely ones that are far better than others. Here are the biggest differentiators.
Every school develops their own material and employs their own staff of instructors. If you recall back to when you were a child going to school, you probably remember that whether a class was fun (or excruciatingly boring) largely depended on the teacher. Did the teacher talk in a monotone voice? Or was the teacher animated and charismatic? The same applies here.
The cost of mortgage courses will vary by school as they can set whatever prices they want. Generally, the PE courses with exam prep run around $300 to $400 on average. Like with anything, schools with better programs tend to charge more for their courses.
The NMLS requires that PE courses start and end on specific dates. Every mortgage school has their own schedule of when they offer their courses. There are some programs that allow you to finish in as little as 2 days while other courses can take as long as 14 days. Regardless of the course duration, you are still covering the same amount of material.
After reviewing all of the mortgage schools in the state of Washington, these are our top schools that are going to help you successfully launch a new career as a Mortgage Loan Originator.
Best School to Finish Fast
MortgageEducation.com is arguably the biggest mortgage school in the country. They have programs in all 50 states which is useful since many people are licensed in multiple states. This allows you to get all your courses under one roof.
They also have a very versatile course scheduling format. New classes start every Tuesdays, and there are a morning session and afternoon session available from Tuesday through Friday as well as a shorter “cram” session on Saturdays. This means there are 9 available sessions throughout the week. You only need to attend 6 out of those 9 sessions to complete your course, and you can choose any session you want. For example, if you pick the first 6 sessions (both morning and afternoon session on Tuesday through Thursday), you can finish in as little as 3 days.
Best School with the Lowest Prices
Mortgage Educators has been around since 1992 and has built a reputation for delivering a quality online mortgage program. In fact, they are the only mortgage school that guarantees you will pass the national exam with their advanced test prep or they will reimburse you for the testing fee.
They have a wide selection of course dates to choose from. They have new classes starting every Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and you can choose to finish on a 5-day or 12-day track. What I really liked about their courses is they make the courses engaging by incorporating video segments throughout the course.
The biggest differentiator you will notice right off the bat is their pricing. You can get an unbeatable 40% off discount off the courses by clicking on Get 40% off.
Best School to Take Your Time
Learn Mortgage is a leading mortgage education company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. They are a subsidiary of the Hondros Education Group, which has a large presence in real estate, appraisal, and home inspection.
There is nothing really fancy or innovative with their courses. It is pretty much your standard online course where you read through the material one page at a time. Their exam prep called CompuCram does a little more than other schools by incorporating vocabulary tools along with multiple-choice practice test questions.
What is nice about their program is they offer a 14-day option to complete the pre-license education. The material can be a lot to absorb at times, so having that extra time to study and take your time is helpful. This will also be helpful if you have a busy schedule during the day and anticipate struggling to find time to study.