How to Become a Patent Attorney

Patent Attorney Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $127,910
Avg. Pay / hour $61.49
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 8.2%

Patent attorneys are experienced legal professionals who are specialized in representing clients who wish to copyright an idea or a product.

Patents and copyrights can be an important legal step for individuals who have an idea or product they wish to protect from others who can steal or copy their idea.

Once a patent or copyright has been approved, individuals owning intellectual property will be protected from copycats offering the same product or idea.

Individuals who to become a Patent Attorney will need a combination of personal characteristics, educational requirements and a license in order to enter this profession.

Some helpful characteristics to have can include the following: analytical skills, ability to speak in front of groups, researching skills and interpersonal skills.

Education Requirements to Become a Patent Attorney

Individuals who want to become a Patent Attorney will need several years of education in order to enter this profession.

Individuals will need to complete a bachelor’s degree and finish 3 years of law school and attain a juris doctor (J.D.) degree.

Individuals will also need to become licensed and gain some practical experience in order to remain competitive amongst other professionals.

There is no specific major an individual needs to attain in order to become a Patent Attorney.

However, there are some useful skills and areas of study individuals are encouraged to focus on to prepare them for law school.

Some of these useful courses include: mathematics, economics, history, government, public speaking and English courses.

Individuals will need to have high grades and pass the entry exam, the LSAT in order to be accepted into an accredited law school.

Visit the American Bar Association ABA for a list of accredited law schools.

An accredited J.D.

law program takes approximately 3 years to complete.

During a typical law program, individuals will study many aspects of law and its history.

Some common courses may include the following:

  • Legal writing
  • Civil procedure
  • Property law
  • Contracts
  • Constitutional law

Depending on the law program, individuals may also have the option to take specialized courses such as corporate law, tax law or labor laws.

Individuals are encouraged to review the curriculum offered through by their programs to determine if they offer courses in patent law.

The next step is for individuals to secure a license from their state in order to practice law.

This is most commonly referred to as “passing the bar” exam which is typically a two day exam that tests individuals in their legal knowledge.

In addition, individuals are encouraged to complete an internship to gain job experience.

Patent Attorney Job Description

Patent Attorneys meet and work with clients who have developed and created a product or service that needs protection against copycats.

Clients who need legal representation may also own intellectual property, that is, a written work, ideas, manuscripts or designs.

Because patent and copyright laws are complicated, Patent Attorneys are responsible for gathering a wealth of information during the research process that will be used to fully represent their client.

They will use information gathered from their research to help clients apply for patent applications.

Patent Attorney Salary and Career Path

The median salary in 2012 for all attorneys, including Patent Attorneys was approximately $113,530 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience, specialization and the industry an individual works in.

Some Patent Attorneys can earn up towards $260,000 per year; while individuals in the finance and insurance sector have the highest median annual salary of approximately $134,940.

The job outlook for all attorneys is expected to grow by approximately 10 percent.

This job growth is considered a faster than average growth when compared to other professions.

This growth is attributed to the demand coming from businesses and individuals who require legal services.

This growth will also be impacted by the staffing cuts by some legal firms in efforts to stay competitive.

Patent Attorneys take several years to complete the educational and training requirements needed to enter this profession.

However, individuals interested in this field can rest assured that this career provides the opportunity to be challenged providing legal help to individuals wanting to protect their intellectual property from individuals eager to duplicate their talents.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Delaware- NA -
District of Columbia$198,820
New Hampshire$124,230
New Jersey$153,800
New Mexico$116,220
New York$179,060
North Carolina$131,960
North Dakota$107,190
Rhode Island$148,770
South Carolina$107,780
South Dakota$100,100
West Virginia$107,380
Puerto Rico$67,350
Virgin Islands- NA -

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $198,820.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $198,820
New York - $179,060
California - $176,610
Massachusetts - $167,980
New Jersey - $153,800
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Lawyers, OCC Code 23-1011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a patent attorney do?

A patent attorney (or a patent lawyer) is a licensed professional who specializes in the field of law governing intellectual property (to be exact, patents).

During the patent application process, the attorney can be representing the inventor; when protecting the client’s rights of invention, a patent attorney acts as a litigator.

The typical duties of a patent attorney usually include interpreting the rules and regulations of the patent process; providing legal representation; filing documents; negotiating contracts; conducting research to ensure that an invention has not been previously represented in the public domain, and so on.

A patent attorney can work for a private company or in a law firm.

How much do patent attorneys make?

On average, a patent attorney can make a little more than $137.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $81.000 and $206.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

Patent attorneys that work in Massachusetts, Illinois, and California, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level patent attorney can earn around $20.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $453.00 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a patent attorney?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree, in order to become a patent attorney (in any major).

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

Aspiring patent attorneys would then be required to take an entrance exam (Law Schools Admission Test); it will cost you over $180, however, you might want to invest in study guides and practice tests.

You should then apply to a law school (around $26.000-$43.000) and earn a Juris Doctor degree.

After graduating, future patent attorneys take the bar exam (about $6.700) and should also pass the USPTO licensing exam (if he or she wants to represent inventors in front of the USPTO; around $300).

What is the demand for patent attorneys?

Between 2016 and 2026, the lawyer job market (including patent attorneys) is expected to grow by 8.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is close to the average for all occupations in the United States.

The competition in the field is extremely high; nowadays, legal services are much needed in the area of intellectual property (most patent attorneys work with inventions, trademarks, and patents).

The industry is mainly concentrated in New York, California, and Florida.

How long does it take to become a patent attorney?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

It is recommended that students spend 150-300 hours on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) prep.

If your scores are high enough, you will be accepted to law school; be prepared to spend at least 3 years as a full-time student.

The bar prep course can take you around 2 months; you can apply online for the USPTO licensing exam.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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