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Patent Agent

Patent law offers opportunities for those who wish to leave the lab but not science.



Patent agents work with inventors, researchers, and attorneys to evaluate an invention disclosure, asses patentability, draft a fileable patent application, and analyze and respond to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Actions. And in today’s high technology world, one in which economies are increasingly dependent upon innovative products that must be legally protected, usually through patents, patent agents are more important than ever.

Yet, despite an exponential increase in new patent filings, the number of new patent practitioners—patent lawyers and patent agents—registering with the USPTO has remained steady. Therefore, there’s not only a growing demand for qualified patent practitioners—as evidenced by salaries for patent agents that typically start around $75,000 at large law firms—but that demand is expected to grow in the future as companies will have to continue to rely heavily on high-value, high-tech ideas—and protecting those ideas—to effectively compete in the global marketplace.

In addition to a very competitive starting salary and the strong likelihood of growing demand, a career as a patent agent is also attractive for several other reasons:

  • Patent agents do not spend three years in law school, yet are just as qualified as an attorney to prepare and prosecute patent applications.
  • Patent agents are registered with the USPTO—a federal bar—so they enjoy more career mobility than an attorney who is licensed in only one state jurisdiction.
  • Companies and law firms often prefer patent agents to patent lawyers, because of the patent agent’s greater technical expertise, lower salary requirements, and equivalent ability to practice at the USPTO.

Patent agents also enjoy options as to the type of work environment they find most rewarding, as patent agents can work in the intellectual property groups at law firms, in legal departments of corporations that conduct research and development, or in the technology transfer offices of research universities. Additionally, they can own their own private practices, or work at the Patent Office as patent examiners. Patent agents also have the option to work in either the United States or abroad.


Educational Requirements

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a Biology, Chemistry, or Physics field will qualify students to take the Patent Bar Exam. There are previous patent bar exams and study materials online. Although a master’s degree isn’t required for the Patent Agent profession, there are many 1 year programs available to help better equip science students for the field and licensing exam.


Median Salary 2019

According to, the median salary of a Patent Agent in 2019 was $98,844.


Want to know more?

USA Today

Science Careers on Patent Law

Bureau of Labor & Statistics

From Bench to Briefs


Get Connected

Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.

American Intellectual Property Law Association

National Association for Patent Practitioners

List of Professional Organizations


Get Experience

U.S. Department of Commerce

Research & Internship Listings


Find a Job

Job Search Sites Related to Your Major


Information retrieved from,


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