Patent Agents


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Strong knowledge of science and engineering is required for most patent agent jobs. Take classes in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and government. Classes in English, writing, and computer science are also helpful in this field.

Postsecondary Education

A bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university or an equivalent degree from a foreign university is required to apply for the patent bar exam issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Most patent agents have a bachelor's degree in science or engineering. Depending on their area of interest, they may take courses in biology, biochemistry, computer science, electronics technology, organic chemistry, physics, textile technology, or aeronautical engineering, biomedical engineering, computer engineering, or industrial, mechanical, nuclear, or petroleum engineering, to name just a few. The subjects of study must be approved by the USPTO.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Patent agents must be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to conduct patent business in the United States. They must pass the Patent Bar examination that the USPTO issues in order to prepare, file, and prosecute patent applications before the USPTO. Details about the Patent Bar exam can be found on the USPTO's Web site.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Patent agents must pass the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's patent bar examination to be registered to practice in the field. A bachelor's degree is required for most specialties and two or more years of experience is usually required by most employers. Patent agents usually have a background in science or engineering, which enables them to understand the science and engineering involved in many of the inventions they review for patent applications. Patent agents must also have strong communication skills to liaise with the inventors and the USPTO. Keen interest in helping others develop their inventions is essential. Attention to detail and research skills are also required to ensure inventions do not infringe on other patents and that patent applications are accurate and complete before submitting to the USPTO.