Anastasie asked Susan Su, US Patent and Trademark Office

AddedSunday, November 25, 2018 at 1:38 AM

Hi Susan, I have a PhD in chemistry with no industry experience. I currently teach college part time and think about becoming a patent examiner. Any advice?

My PhD is in organic chemistry. I went to school in Germany. I graduated almost 8 years ago. Thanks in advance, Anna
Related to Chemical, Merging Fields, Unique Challenges
  • Susan Su , US Patent and Trademark Office
    Answered Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 12:28 PM

    Hi Anna,

    First sign up for alerts from so that you’ll be notified when the USPTO hires patent examiners again. The job postings will indicate in which area they want to hire, e.g. mechanical, chemistry, design… I assume you have citizenship, as federal jobs are only open to citizens. Patent examination requires a lot of concentration and ability to make quick decisions, and being able to think out of the box would help greatly. You will also be working alone most of the time so you need to know how to manage your time. Most people suffer, in particular at first, is because they feel that they can find the perfect rejection for the patent application they're examining. So you’ll need to know when to cut off the search and start writing your opinion using references that you have already found. Your degree alone would get you through the first round. When you answer KSA questions, make sure your answer contains some of the keywords in the questions. The units that have a need for examiners to look at certain types of patent applications (e.g. I almost exclusively look at wound dressings and diapers) will send a request to HR with details of what scientific/engineering knowledge they need in their examiners, and HR will send to those supervisors of the units a list of candidates that most matches what they need. So there’s definitely some luck needed since I won’t know what specific areas they want people. Good luck!