How to Become a Patent Examiner

Three Methods:Seek Appropriate Education and TrainingDo Some Career Search HomeworkPursue a Career as a Patent Examiner

Patent examiners inspect applications for inventions to determine whether they comply with federal regulations and scientific and technical specifications. They also review patent applications to validate the originality of a new idea or product. The patent examiner must approve or reject a claim for exclusive rights to market a product based on research as well as interaction with inventors and patent attorneys. Most patent examiner positions are within government agencies. This article gives an overview of how to become a patent examiner.

Method 1
Seek Appropriate Education and Training

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    Meet the minimum educational requirements. Since most patent applications involve scientific innovations, a patent examiner should have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science from an accredited university. Understanding basic scientific and technical language is critical when reviewing patent applications.
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    Consider legal training to add to your skill set. Stand out from other applicants by taking legal courses to get an understanding of the law, and to study for the patent bar exam. The work of patent examiners involves a combination of both science and the law.
    • Although the patent bar exam is not required to become a patent examiner, taking the patent bar exam helps for those who are interested in advancing to a career as a patent lawyer.
    • Career centers and several online resources provide information on patent bar exam qualifications, how to prepare for the exam and where to take it.
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    Pick a patent examiner specialty. Some patent examiners work in areas that closely relate to their scientific background, such as physics, computer science, biology and chemistry. Other specialties include chemical, computer, electrical and mechanical engineering.

Method 2
Do Some Career Search Homework

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    Review the responsibilities of a patent examiner. Career centers and online career sites provide articles or background information regarding the typical duties of a patent examiner. Explore the responsibilities, work schedule, salary, benefits and any other related information to determine whether being a patent examiner makes a good fit.
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    Search for patent examiner internships. Apply for internships related to patent law to gain hands-on experience. Internships can give you a chance to apply your analytical, scientific and technical skills when reviewing patent applications. Patent examiner internships also help you determine whether you will enjoy the nature of the work before committing to a full-time career in the field. Look for internships and resources at most colleges and universities.

Method 3
Pursue a Career as a Patent Examiner

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    Find open patent examiner positions. Government career centers and online job websites are likely to feature patent examiner openings, as well as several other government job opportunities. Career fairs provide an additional opportunity to apply for open jobs and network with industry insiders.
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    Read the vacancy announcements carefully. Review the educational and experience requirements before applying to ensure that the job matches your skill set.
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    Follow the instructions for applying for a patent examiner position. In addition to submitting a resume and a cover letter, government agencies sometimes require supplementary paperwork as part of the application package. For example, you may be subjected to an online questionnaire, or be required to file a general government application form electronically.


  • Be prepared to undergo additional comprehensive training as a new patent examiner. Training involves courses that focus on patent examination procedures, report writing and more. On-the-job training with a supervisor is also required.
  • Most patent examiner jobs are found within government agencies such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office.
  • Join organizations such as the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA) in order to network and keep track of the latest news and developments related to the field.

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Categories: Careers in Government