Top 3 Online MLO NMLS Schools in Washington State

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:

Cumbersome 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.

Course Schedule
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 for Busy People is the leading provider for helping people obtain the mortgage license. 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 recently upgraded their entire program to make it more engaging by incorporating video content throughout the course. You get access to live instructors, so you can ask your questions to a live human being and you won’t feel like you are studying alone. If you have a hard time concentrating in class or are worried that online courses are too boring, this will be the best program for you.

One of the unique things about is their course scheduling. While most other schools require that you finish on a certain day, allows you to finish by a certain day. They give you up to 14 days to finish whenever you want. That means if you are in a rush, you can start today and finish in as little as 3 days. However, as you are taking the course, if you feel you need more time, that is okay too. 

Another big differentiator is their exam prep for the National Exam. Most other schools only offer practice tests to help you study. offers an entire video course designed specifically for the exam. When used in combination with their practice tests and study guides, you will have plenty of study tools to help you succeed. 

Best School for Knowledge Seekers

If you are the type of person who seeks a challenge and likes to push yourself to the limits, then The CE Shop would be perfect solution to fit your style. With over 17 years in the industry and thousands of students successfully licensed under their program, The CE Shop has developed their own proven formula to help people pass the exams with a high success rate. 

They have achieved this by developing their own learning platform called LEAP 2.0 from the ground up. The CE Shop courses look sleek, modern, and are seamlessly compatible with mobile devices. While the majority of the time, you will be reading from a textbook online, they mix things up to keep you engaged by throwing in video clips, lots of visual graphics, and a variety of different quiz formats. 

What makes this program different from the rest is they want you to truly master the material. This means you will be quizzed more often throughout the course to test your knowledge of what you studied. If you are in a rush to get licensed, this is not recommended for you. However, if your main priority is to learn as much as possible, then this will help you get there. 

Best School for Interactive Learning

OnCourse Learning is part of the Colibri Group, which is the biggest online real estate school in the nation. They have helped hundreds of thousands of people obtain a mortgage license for the past 40 years and have mortgage programs available in all 50 states. 

They offer a couple of options to complete the pre-licensing course: through a video course or a live webinar course. 

The video option is more self-paced and allows you to watch pre-recorded lessons at any time of day. However, there are still quizzes and assignments that need to be completed by a certain day, so you still need to keep pace with the overall class schedule. The course will be online instructor-led (OIL), which means the instructor is not actually teaching a live class but operating behind the scenes and available to help you with your questions and review your work along the way.

You can choose to complete the video course over 7 or 14 consecutive days (including weekends), but new classes start on specific days of the week, so you won’t be able to begin the course right away. For the 7-day option, new classes start every Tuesdays and Thursdays. For the 14-day option, there are new classes every Wednesdays and Thursdays. When your first day begins, the course officially opens up for you to access at 12pm CST. For the rest of the schedule, you can work on it at any time 24 hours a day.

The live webinar option is called the MLO Test Ready course. This takes on more of a “boot camp” type feel, which is completed over 10 business days (Monday through Friday) via Zoom. You will be required to participate and be logged in all day, so you will need to have a clear schedule to attend this. This option gives you the most engagement by learning interactively as it includes a live instructor teaching the class, private tutoring sessions, and small group discussions.

The MLO Test Ready course is arguably the most immersive mortgage program in Washington and is actually cheaper than the video course option. However, it is quite rigorous and requires well over 60 hours of studying to finish, which is significantly more than the 24 hours needed to complete the video course. This program is backed by their Pass Guarantee, where they pay for your second test if you don’t pass on your first try. You can also get a $50 rebate just for sending in your score on the NMLS exam.