What's the Difference Between Mortgage Brokers and Loan Officers?

Navigating the many real estate career paths can be overwhelming (and confusing). It seems like there are more job titles than properties currently on the market, like lending officer, mortgage advisor, loan specialist, mortgage banker, or home loan specialist! 

That’s why we want to help clear a few things up for anyone interested in exploring a job within the mortgage industry.

What All Mortgage Jobs Have in Common

One thing we want to clear up right away is that all mortgage-related positions need a mortgage loan originator (MLO) license approved by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS). Put simply, a mortgage loan originator is a person who issues funding for a home loan. The core focus for an individual MLO, no matter the job title, is to guide homebuyers through the mortgage loan process.

Mortgage Loan Officers

A mortgage loan officer is just another name for an individual who has a mortgage loan originator license. Loan officers typically work for one institution, such as a bank or specialty mortgage lender (think Rocket Mortgage). Loan officers work with potential borrowers to help them understand the loan options available to them, answer any mortgage loan questions, and prepare loan applications.

Mortgage Brokers

An individual that calls themselves a mortgage broker is actually a licensed mortgage loan originator! 

Mortgage broker licenses are given to broker companies, not individual people. Just remember that when you hear people say, “I’m a mortgage broker,” it means they are a mortgage loan officer that works with a licensed mortgage broker company.

Mortgage Loan Officers & Brokers: Biggest Difference

The main difference between mortgage loan officers and mortgage brokers is the loan choices available to them.

  • Loan officers who work for a bank, for example, can only offer borrowers loan options from that bank. Loan officers work with borrowers throughout the entire mortgage loan process from application to closing.
  • Mortgage brokers work independently from banks or lenders, meaning they can shop around for borrowers and present the best available options for their needs. Since brokers submit a borrower’s mortgage application to multiple financial institutions, they cannot approve loans or work with borrowers through the entire loan process.

How to Get a Mortgage Loan Originator License

No matter what you’re looking for in your career – either the stability of a loan officer or the flexibility of a broker – we can help you get started. Our National Mortgage Loan Origination Pre-License Course will help guide you through the MLO licensing process. Completing the NMLS-approved course fulfills the national 20-hour pre-license requirement needed to receive an MLO license. Some states require additional training, however. 

Visit our MLO pre-license page for more details on courses and some common FAQs.