Have you ever wondered about the difference between a patent attorney and a patent agent? And how much you can make in this lucrative field under each title? With the rise in technology, patent attorneys and agents are in demand.
It takes different steps to become a patent attorney versus becoming a patent agent so the salaries will differ.
You can have a strong career as both an attorney and agent and make a consistent and great yearly salary. So, we’re going to discuss the differences in the positions as well as how much you can make as a patent attorney and a patent agent.
Patent Agent Salaries
What does it take to become a patent agent?
If you want to become a patent agent, the first requirement is to gain a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, or engineering. Your degree must be recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as one that meets the requirements under Category A or you may be able to fit under Category B or C.
After receiving your undergraduate degree, you will need to register to take the patent bar exam.
You will need to study for this exam and focus on the laws and rules within the MPEP. You will need to know the patent process inside and out.
Both these requirements must be met to ensure a patent agent can understand scientific and engineering inventions as well as have knowledge of laws regarding patents.
Once you pass the patent bar exam, you will become a patent agent.
If you fail, you can, re-take the exam later on and still become a registered patent agent.
Both patent agents and patent attorneys are legally qualified to represent a client or inventor before the USPTO including helping them with the patent process.
Patent agents are more likely to do the dirty work of drafting of the patents with their knowledge of science and technology.
Many patent agents decide to expand their career (and their salary) by going to law school after many years of experience where they can become a patent attorney.
So, how much does a patent agent make?
The median patent agent salary is $92,942 a year. The range of a patent agent’s salary is between $80,082 to $112,223 a year. This is as of May 30, 2018.
Your specific salary will vary due to the state you live in and how much experience you have under your belt.
Patent Attorney Salaries
What does it take to become a patent attorney?
The steps to become a patent attorney differ only slightly for the criteria to become a patent agent.
First, much like a patent agent, a future patent attorney needs to have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, or engineering. The degree must be recognized by the USPTO. This gives you a strong background in science or engineering so you can understand the complexities of inventions.
You will also need to take the patent bar exam. You can take this at any time once you have your Bachelor’s degree in the right field.
At some point after you receive your bachelor’s degree you have to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) while you’re applying to a law school. This test determines your analyzing skills and your logic skills. You have to pass this test to be accepted into any law school in the United States.
While you’re in law school, you should take courses specific to patent laws like intellectual property, patent, and trademarks. Some law schools offer a degree program that’s specific to patent law.
After you receive your law degree, you need to take and pass the bar exam. At this point, if you haven’t yet taken the patent bar exam, you’ll need to take and pass it. This gives a patent attorney extensive knowledge of the law as well as patent law.
Since they are equipped with more of an extensive knowledge, patent attorneys get paid more than patent agents to practice patent law.
Since a patent attorney has attended law school and passed the bar exam, they’re able to do certain things that patent agents aren’t qualified for.
For example, patent attorneys can give legal advice to clients involving the patent process and any infringements.
Not only can patent attorneys give legal advice to clients, they’re also able to draft contracts and other important documents like non-disclosure agreements.
Finally, law attorneys are the ones who go to court to represent a client for any legal proceedings. A patent agent is not able to do this for their clients.
So, how much do patent attorneys make?
The median patent attorney salary is $237,202 a year. The range of a patent attorney’s salary is between $199,119 to $273,288 a year. This is as of May 30, 2018.
Despite the differences in education and expertise, patent agents and patent attorneys are a great asset for inventors. They’re both viable in the world of patent law that’s always expanding.
You can (and will) have a great career with either title. Experience in the industry is what will make you truly stand out from other patent agents and patent attorneys, not to mention clients.
If you study the patent industry continuously, even after passing the patent bar, you will make a difference in inventor’s lives as well as make a great income.