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Patent Clerk

  1. Mar 10, 2009 #1
    What does it take to become a U.S. patent clerk? I will have an engineering physics degree.
    Is the pay decent? Right now I just don't feel like doing research in physics for an official institution of any sort.But there is a lot personal research I would like to do.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2009 #2
    Hello Albert.
  4. Mar 10, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Contact the US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) of the US Department of Commerce
    www.uspto.gov, and apply - then get accepted.




    Pre-employment testing

    Patent Examiner Qualifications
    http://www.uspto.gov/go/ac/ahrpa/ohr/jobs/qualifications.htm (some bad links on this page)

    Better page for PE Information
    http://usptocareers.gov/Pages/PEPositions/Default.aspx [Broken]

    Search for jobs at http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/a9pto.asp [Broken]
    Select Patent Examiner

    Examples of positions and salaries (as of March 2009):

    Patent Examiner (Civil/Industrial Engineer) similar grades for Mechanical, Comp. Sci,

    Vacancy Ann.#: LD220991
    Who May Apply: Public
    Pay Plan: GS-1224-05/09

    Patent Examiner (Physics and Nuclear Engineer)
    A Patent Examiner reviews patent applications to determine if they comply with Federal law and regulations, in addition to scientific principle. The incumbent would be responsible for scrutinizing pat ...[more]

    Vacancy Ann.#: LD220977
    Who May Apply: Public
    Pay Plan: GS-1224-05/09
    Appointment Term: Permanent
    Job Status: Full-Time
    Opening Date: 11/19/2008
    Salary: From 41,350.00 to 77,722.00 USD per year

    Patent Examiner (Chemistry)
    Vacancy Ann.#: LD224547
    Who May Apply: Public
    Pay Plan: GS-1224-11
    Appointment Term: Permanent
    Job Status: Full-Time
    Opening Date: 11/19/2008
    Salary: From 68,866.00 to 89,520.00 USD per year
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Mar 10, 2009 #4
    I heard thats where he 'discovered' his theories.
  6. Mar 10, 2009 #5


    User Avatar

    I have three friends with masters degrees in physics working for the patent office, and they were told they were a bit overqualified for the position, so you should be fine. They are paid very well - I think they're all making in the 60-80k range.
  7. Mar 11, 2009 #6
    Let me make clear that I am not doing this because Einstein did. I will never be able to reach his level. I am interested in the job itself. I would also like to do as much physics on the side as possible because I enjoy it, even though I am not the best at it.

    Thanks Astronuc. Very useful.
  8. Mar 11, 2009 #7
  9. Mar 11, 2009 #8
    so besides a masters in physics, do they have any schooling in law?
  10. Mar 11, 2009 #9
    I was under the assumption patent clerks are all law majors/lawers with experience in specific fields. My friend worked at a patent firm that usually did work for Cisco Systems and he said everyone there was a science major turning to law.
  11. Mar 15, 2009 #10
    Astronuc's links provide all the info you'd need, but just to have it here in the thread too...

    (Note: This info is USPTO specific. Other IP offices may vary!)

    The Good
    You do not need to have any education in law to be hired. You just need a bachelor's degree in some technical discipline. All types of engineering (not engineering technology), chemistry, physics, math and biology too I believe. They train you in the law areas you need. Later, you can go to law school if you wish and they would typically pay for it. The bad economy hits PTO too so that may change.

    The pay is pretty fantastic for an entry level position. With a bachelors degree with a GPA of 3.0 or greater, you'd start in the low 60k range. You also get the usual government benefits which are pretty good. The real upside to PTO work is the flexible scheduling which allows you to pretty much come and go as you please as long as you get your work done and get your 80 hours every pay period (two weeks). After a few promotions you can apply to get equipment and work from home.

    In my opinion, the people are generally great to work with, including management. Its a job where you're working independently most of the time but most everyone is willing to help if you need it. When you're new, you'll need a lot of help.

    The Bad
    It would seem that the entrance requirements are a little more difficult than when I was hired (I don't work there anymore). From Astronuc's links it seems like they may require some writing samples. For them, this is good considering how much correspondance you have to write.

    Some people I know who still work there have said that they are actually having a hiring freeze right now. The bad economy resulted in less applications being filed which means less money for PTO. If they still have the job posted on USAJobs though, I'd still go ahead and apply if you're interested. Maybe the info I have isn't entirely accurate!

    The Ugly
    The work is based on a quota system which means you have to do a certain amount of cases per pay period. Depending on what area you end up working in and your ability to concentrate, this quota system could be easy or difficult. There is a lot of turnover at PTO because many people end up just not liking the job or because they can't keep up with their quota.

    The End
    Even though I don't work there anymore I still encourage people to apply if they they're interested. Like any other job it doesn't fit everybody. I'm willing to answer any other questions people may have in this thread or via PM. Just keep in mind that some things may have changed since I left.
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