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Author Topic: BSEE to Patent Agent?  (Read 607 times)


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BSEE to Patent Agent?
« on: 03-16-17 at 02:11 pm »

Hello all, I have been learning a lot by reading this forum but figured I'd make a post myself to see if I can get some input on my situation as I am debating trying to become a patent agent. My situation: I have a BSEE and 2 years of design experience in industry, my main priority is raising my kids/family so I am not considering getting an MS or going to law school (I just want a "good job," I dont need the most interesting or stressful job even if its higher paying, I cant see myself staying in a super technical design role long term (if I dont become a patent agent, I will try to go for a type of r&d or management position eventually), I have been reading a lot about becoming a Patent Agent and I think it would be a great fit for me. I would like to apply to take the test, and study, and if I pass it, see where I can go from there. I wouldnt leave my job or anything extreme, I just want to give this a try.
 My questions are:

1. How probable is it to get a job as a patent agent without a masters degree or extensive experience (my situation, i am a female if it makes a difference)
2. Long term, it seems like being a patent agent has a little bit better of pay than an EE unless I move much further up in technical engineering (become a senior engineer in x years), is this correct?
3. Do you think it is worth a try or is it a horrible idea?

Thank you very much in advance for any input!


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Re: BSEE to Patent Agent?
« Reply #1 on: 03-17-17 at 03:36 pm »

I am going to give my 2 cents on the matter. I hold a Master's in Biotechnology with >8 years of R & D experience from the biotech, pharma industry and after growing tired of being a scientist working my a.. off and not seeing the payoff in terms of a satisfying salary I quit my job and studied full-time for 3.5 months and passed the bar exam on my first attempt. Surely its a tough exam but I had no background in IP and after self-studying for the bar it is possible to pass it. That is not the hard part. The hard part is finding your first career-decisive gig. That is close to impossible as it may seem at times even after churning out > 200 standard applications to nearly all law firms in the US. Since you say you have a family I guess being flexible for a gig is not an option ? Sometimes it is all about luck. The right partner takes the time to read your application, the firm has the right clients in terms of your professional qualifications, you kill the interview and you get your first gig. That is how it happened to me as the firm had some Danish clients and I am fluent in Danish. Mind you I only hold a Master's in a to say the least not very attractive field. If you have a BSEE you are in good shape and not nearly as impossible as holding a Master's or Phd in the life-sciences or chemical fields (not talking about engineering like chemical engineering). It is a super nice career, you work less, probably make 2.5 the times as a scientist and the salary cap is way higher than in science. I am like you. I only want to stay as a Patent Agent, make a decent amount of money for the less amount of work but have a normal life on the side. In other words. GO FOR IT...The boutique I am at now I have the best thing, no billable hours, come and go when you so wish, not being pigeon-holed and micromanaged as in bigger law firms just as long as you are mature enough to have a work ethic and get the work done. I personally am a morning person so I get in 7 am and leave 5 pm on the dot. I had the best mentor when I started in the field one could have ever asked for, an empathetic calm professional and not a screamer. Oh btw you learn to deal with those types when you work at a law firm which I have never experienced in my many years as a scientist. After a couple of years of experience you can even take risks and play with destiny. I quit my former job at another boutique, the commute was horrible and the environment was not optimal. I was like screw life is way too short for this f... this I quit. Took a risk, was unemployed for 3 weeks before I got scooped up by my current boutique and I have way more autonomy, client interactions and decisive paths for the prosecution work and I regularly get > 2 cases allowed every two weeks or so. That is what the clients want in this field. Be efficient, work fast, and produce intelligent quality work preferably on the first trial. Feel free to contact me if you want further info...
« Last Edit: 03-17-17 at 03:59 pm by PatentScientist »

Rabid Levity

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Re: BSEE to Patent Agent?
« Reply #2 on: 03-17-17 at 06:25 pm »

1.  I'm not an EE, but that has been (in my opinion and that of others I've read) the most steadily in-demand technical background for patent agents and attorneys.

I've never heard that it was difficult for a BSEE vs. an MSEE.  Of course, as between two otherwise identical candidates for some given position, the MS might be looked on more favorably, especially if they concentrated during the MS work on something of interest to the prospective employer.  But on the whole, BS should be fine.

2. I don't know much about expected EE-as-EE payscales.  I do know patent agents with some experience who are making 120 or so.  I also know some in smaller markets who are making more like 80.  (None of the ones I know are EEs, by the way.)  Wait and see if others chime in.

3. It would be at least a bad idea if you were a BS Biology or Chemistry, as those don't seem to be in demand.  It's not a bad idea for an EE.

Another thing you can do is start floating a resume now, while studying for the patent bar, to get a feel for the market.  Firms do employ pre-barred engineers (usually referring to them as "technical specialists", and sometimes as "patent scientists").  They do much the same work as patent agents (application drafting, office responses) but are ghosting the work for someone who is a registered agent or attorney to review and file.  If you find strong interest, you could make the jump earlier than planned if you like what you hear about their expectations for your initial work, by when they expect you to get the exam done, and what will happen once you do.  (Pay bump?  Or would they start you at a salary similar to an agent? Maybe others can comment on this also.)

Something else to consider is looking at who works in your company's patent department.  Do they employ any agents, or only patent attorneys?  (Varies pretty widely by company and "culture" in a given company's law department.)  If they do use agents, would they consider taking someone from R&D into the legal department?  Of course, you'll have to be the judge of whether just making soft inquiries would upset the apple cart with your current management.


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