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   Working for the USPTO
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   Author  Topic: Working for the USPTO  (Read 342802 times)
Tiger4852
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #1090 on: Jul 6th, 2007, 10:34pm »
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Hello - I am a senior in EE at reputable engineering school. I would like to get involved in patent work in DC area after graduation. I plan to pursue Juris Doctor degree with part-time schooling at one of the DC area law schools.
 
During the day, I would like to work as a PE at the USPTO. A couple questions:
 
1) I am going to need help paying for law school, and would like to avoid taking loans out as much as possible. After a certain period, I believe the USPTO will pay for law school tuition. Is this true? After how long? Is there any requirement that I stay at the patent office after I graduate if they help with school?
 
Also, very importantly - does this seem to be the best path financially? Or would it be more advantageous to go work for a law firm after two years, for example?
 
2) What grade/step would I likely come in at when I graduate? I am a EE, 3.9+ GPA at good school, and have four semesters of co-op/internship experience. I know this is not as much experience as many who come into the patent field as somewhat of a career shift, but would appreciate anyone's guess on a likely GS-level at the USPTO that I would be hired at. How long before first promotion?
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Anon Examiner
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #1091 on: Jul 7th, 2007, 8:06am »
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on Jul 6th, 2007, 7:47am, MikeM wrote:

 
I've heard of this master's rating before... how exactly do you get it?  I've been told by a primary that some (if not many) SPEs just won't let you do it...

 
I think you need a master's degree in your art area or a master's degree with a certain number of credits directly applicable to your art.  I suggest asking your SPE for the exact requirements.
 
I've never heard of a SPE not letting an examiner become a master in the art.  I can't think of a motivation that would cause a SPE to act this way unless they actually thought you might make GS-14 and never become a primary.  And, I think everyone at that level wants their own stamp.  If I were in such a situation I would transfer immediately.
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Anon Examiner
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #1092 on: Jul 7th, 2007, 8:36am »
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on Jul 6th, 2007, 10:34pm, Tiger4852 wrote:
Hello - I am a senior in EE at reputable engineering school. I would like to get involved in patent work in DC area after graduation. I plan to pursue Juris Doctor degree with part-time schooling at one of the DC area law schools.
 
During the day, I would like to work as a PE at the USPTO. A couple questions:
 
1) I am going to need help paying for law school, and would like to avoid taking loans out as much as possible. After a certain period, I believe the USPTO will pay for law school tuition. Is this true? After how long? Is there any requirement that I stay at the patent office after I graduate if they help with school?
 
Also, very importantly - does this seem to be the best path financially? Or would it be more advantageous to go work for a law firm after two years, for example?
 
2) What grade/step would I likely come in at when I graduate? I am a EE, 3.9+ GPA at good school, and have four semesters of co-op/internship experience. I know this is not as much experience as many who come into the patent field as somewhat of a career shift, but would appreciate anyone's guess on a likely GS-level at the USPTO that I would be hired at. How long before first promotion?

 
1) The USPTO "pays" for law school after 2 years of service.  However, there are a few things that I think you should consider before going on this path.
 
First, law school tuition is mostly taxable.  The first $5250 is not taxable, but the rest is.  You'll almost surely be in the 28% bracket.  So, you're looking at 28 (federal) + 5.75 (state) + 7.45 (SSA, Medicare) = 41.2% tax.  That turns out to be about $9000/year, unless you go to Mason.  For most people this is their entire disposable income.
 
Second, when you finish you owe the USPTO 1 month for every 3 credits, which means about 2.5 years.  And, by that time, you'll surely be a primary examiner, and possibly even a SPE.  SPE is arguably a better job than associate (not partner) at any firm (SPEs make 145k with overtime + 15k bonus + pension, and get 392 hrs of leave, etc.)  So, you may very well end up going through all that schooling for no reason.
 
If you actually want to work for a law firm I would not suggest getting a law degree while working at the USPTO.  Financially, you have the right idea.  Work for the PTO for about 2 years, then go to a firm that pays the tuition directly to your school, and has reduced billable hour requirements for agents in law school.  That way you'd be able to get yourself on a partnership track early, you'd still be making money while in school (by avoiding the taxman), and your workload wouldn't be all that bad (until your done, that is).
 
I bet you could come in as a GS-9.  Probably, GS-9, step 10.  I think the first promotion is still 6 months.  But, assuming you can bill overtime, the promotion is actually less money in the short term.  If you're planning to leave I think you should come in at GS-9, step 10, bill max OT once you get the laptop at 1 year, and then go to a firm at two years.
 
 
 
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mandejapan
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Posts: 58
Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #1093 on: Jul 7th, 2007, 10:03am »
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Hi Tiger4852,
 
I'm not sure if you'd be able to start at a GS 9 without a master's degree.  They are usually only able to start you at GS 7 step 10 if you have a bachelor's degree (with good grades) or a GS 9 step 8 if you have a master's degree.  If you have a full time job with a current salary and can show your salary in writing, the HR Office can match your current salary, so that's one way to get a GS 9 step 9 or 10.  The good thing for you though is that you would get the nice EE/CE recruitment bonus of about 8k per year for 4 years, so that's an extra 32k if you stayed there the entire time.
 
At least this was my experience...and one of my friend's also had a similar experience.
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Anon Examiner
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #1094 on: Jul 7th, 2007, 10:22am »
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He said he's got some internship experience.  He can get hired as a GS-9 with a bachelor's degree and 1 year of experience.  If he can successfully spin internship experience to be actual experience then he's good to go.  He seems like a really good candidate, and it wouldn't be the first time this has happened.
 
You're right about the GS-9, step 8 thing.  He'd need to get an offer for 72k elsewhere make GS-9, step 10 starting.  But, with a 3.9 in EE, in today's economy, this should not be very difficult to pull off.  I suggest he apply to companies in California, where the cost of living is high, just to get an offer for the USPTO to match.
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