Salary Ranges for Patent Agents and Patent Attorneys

salaryEveryone wants to know how much they’ll be making as a patent agent or attorney, but unfortunately it’s a difficult question to answer.

That’s because your salary will vary due to a number of outside factors. We’ve put together a list of the factors that will help determine your exact salary along with research of the top salary sites online.

We’ve compiled all the data here for your convenience.

Salary.com

Salary.com has an in depth salary scale for patent attorneys where they’ve broken down the salaries and their ranges by number of years experience.

As you can see in the list below the range in pay for patent attorneys is widely varied. They show a range from $80K up to an average of $210K a year and they have records of patent attorneys reporting even more or less than those figures.

Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Patent Attorney I (JD + 0-2 years of experience) – $80,683 (average); low 41K and high 128K
  • Patent Attorney II (JD + 2-5 years of experience) – $123,276 (average); low 88K and high 179K.
  • Patent Attorney III (JD + 5-8 years of experience) – $146,262 (average); low 115K and high 195K.
  • Patent Attorney IV (JD + 8 years or more of experience) – $170,971 (average); low 140K and high 214K.
  • Top Patent Attorney (JD + 15 or more years of experience) – $210,437 (average); low 145K and high 270K.
  • Patent Agent II (Bachelors + 2-5 years of experience) – $84,509 (average); low 62K and high 118K.

Source: Salary.com

American Intellectual Property Law Association 2011 report

This report shows a much higher salary range than other resources and is probably due to the fact that many of the individuals who join the AIPLA are higher earners. They have the most use for joining an association where they can meet other patent attorneys and agents and stay on top of the changing laws and rules.

AIPLA showed that $205,000 was the average salary for all participants in the study (there were over 2500 respondents).

Further salary details from AIPLA are indicated below:

  • Private firm partner – $373,328 average per year
  • Corporate IP Attorney – $213,701 average per year
  • Corporate IP Agent – $130,000 average per year

Source: AIPLA Report

BLS.gov

The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a salary database for lawyers. They do not have any records for patent agents or for patent attorneys specifically, but do have general attorney/lawyer salaries.

They state they believe patent attorneys have earnings in the highest 10% of lawyers which puts them at $166K in May 2008.

Source: BLS.gov

Glassdoor.com

We also visited Glassdoor.com for more information on what they believe the average salary is for patent attorneys and patent agents. Their salary research is very similar to what is posted elsewhere online.

Here are their salary figures:

  • Patent attorney – 133,000 is average.
  • Patent agent – $90,000 is average

Source: Glassdoor.com

Payscale.com

Lastly, we visited Payscale.com. Their salary figures were very similar to Glassdoor.com and Salary.com. Here is their breakdown:

  • Patent Attorney – 125,802 (average); low 74K and high 199K.
  • Patent Agent – 90,060 (average); low 54K and high 140K.

To give you an idea of how patent agent and patent attorney salaries compare to other jobs we’ve put together this chart. We show you the average pay from Payscale.com along with job titles:

  • Patent Attorney – $125,802
  • Patent Agent – $90,060
  • Attorney/Lawyer – $79,095
  • Mechanical engineer – $63,061
  • Electrical engineer – $67,982
  • Environmental engineer – $60,873
  • Civil engineer – $60,790
  • Biochemist – $51,556
  • Research Scientist – $73,140
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist – $64,622

As you can see, it pays to pass the Patent Bar.

The average salary for patent agents is far higher than all the other salaries we have listed here (about $20,000 to $30,000 a year higher, which can make a significant difference in your lifestyle).

The earnings differences can be even higher if you’re currently a research scientist at a non-profit or academic setting as your pay is probably significantly lower than the pay listed above. You can see your earnings double just by passing the patent bar exam and gaining employment as a patent agent.

From there if you decide to pursue your JD then you can see an even higher increase when you become a patent attorney.

Factors Influencing Your Salary

Here are the factors that will determine your salary and whether you find yourself on the high or low end of the earnings scale:

Location

Where you work always impacts how much you’ll get paid. And that’s true no matter what career field you decide to pursue. Often individuals working in larger metropolitan areas earn more than their counterparts living in rural areas.

Experience

Your past experiences always play a role in how much you earn. If you’re just starting out in the field of patent law (whether a patent agent or attorney) then you’ll typically be on the low end of the salary scale. If you have several years of experience then naturally, you’d expect to be paid more.

In addition to your number of years of experience in patent work, your employer will likely consider how many years of employment you had in your field of study prior to becoming a registered patent practitioner. Many engineers and scientists work in their field for a number of years before taking the patent bar exam. Those years will usually help them earn more than those who do not have the experience in their field of study.

Degree

The degree you have will help boost your earnings. And it’s not just whether you have a JD degree and if you’re a patent attorney, but the degree you had and the level you earned in your technical background. For example, a patent agent or attorney with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology will likely earn less than one with a Doctorate degree in Biochemistry.

And it’s not even just the level, but the specific degree and how valuable your employer finds that particular degree and your background as a whole. Patents are very technical and it’s going to be difficult if not impossible to write a solid patent application on a subject you don’t understand. So if you don’t have that background, your potential employer knows you’ll need some training (which they may be willing to give you, but you’re not going to get top dollar if that’s your situation).

Job Fit

How well do you fit what the employer is looking for? If they want someone who understands environmental inventions and your degree and background ismechanical engineering, even if you’ve somehow won them over, you may expect lower pay than someone who fit the job description better.

Differences Across Firms and Employers

Some firms pay more. They are more prestigious and hire who they feel will help them maintain their image.

In addition, it’s not just law firms that hire patent agents and attorneys.

Many areas of the government hire patent practitioners (like NASA) as well as private corporations (including many in the engineering and biotechnology sectors). They all have different rates of pay so that’s something to consider once you start looking for a job.

*Please note that we are not making any income claims. These salary ranges are only based on general research. We urge you to research salary ranges on your own taking into account your own personal factors.

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