Author Topic: Semi-retirement job: patent examiner?  (Read 2731 times)

Frs1661

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Semi-retirement job: patent examiner?
« on: September 18, 2016, 09:27:27 AM »
Any US patent examiners or former patent examiners in the house? 

This job seems to have potential as a semi retirement gig:
-Full time salary of mid $80k
-100% telework available from anywhere in the country (after working in person for 1 year)
-They claim to have one of the best work life balances in the federal government

Questions:
-What's it actually like to work there?
-are part time remote positions available?

okits

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Frs1661

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Re: Semi-retirement job: patent examiner?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 03:58:14 AM »
Thanks!

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ysette9

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Re: Semi-retirement job: patent examiner?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 10:09:30 AM »
This is all second-hand, but I'll include it for what it is worth.

We have neighbors who work in the area of patent law. One is an examiner and works part-time from home. According to what she has shared with us it sounds like a pretty great profession for being flexible, but the learning curve is steep. Apparently you work hard and a lot in the beginning to build up your knowledge base in the particular small area you specialize in and so initially your efficiency is low. Over the years as you build your knowledge subsequent applications are much easier to process because you have already done the research. She says she works from home and charges by a type of unit of work that is discrete and measurable (I don't have specifics because I don't understand it). However that type of work is optimal for flexible and remote work schedules because your work is easily measured by the work output and not by the hours you spend warming a chair.

Case

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Re: Semi-retirement job: patent examiner?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2016, 02:24:28 PM »
Any US patent examiners or former patent examiners in the house? 

This job seems to have potential as a semi retirement gig:
-Full time salary of mid $80k
-100% telework available from anywhere in the country (after working in person for 1 year)
-They claim to have one of the best work life balances in the federal government

Questions:
-What's it actually like to work there?
-are part time remote positions available?

I don't claim to be a final source on this, but this is the impression I have:

-at least some patent examiners need a technical background in the patent area they work in; would you have this?
-the pay is accurate, and possibly higher if you have an advanced technical degree.
-I think there is a possibility for overtime, though probably not what you are looking for.
-I have heard it can be a competitive job to get, and also be a stressful workplace.
-you do eventually get the freedom to live anywhere (2 years need to be in DC I think).
-I have a few patents, and have read many.  Let me tell you that reading patents is boring as shit for the average science-engineering minded individual.  At their best, patents talk about an exciting technology and the examples give actual technical content. At their worst, they are used as smokescreens to confuse competitors.  However, they usually are very very boring, and are written this way on purpose.  Unless you truly enjoy legalize, this job will be the part of your retired life that you hate.  If you are a real technical guy (especially engineers and scientists on this forum), this job will probably leave you wanting more, or alternatively feeling that you are part of the bureacracy that is not truly productive.
-Don't fool yourself into thinking that getting involved with the legal side is an easy way to maintain a connection with technical content.  You will be reading the latest patents, but your role will not be to understand the technology, just the legalize.  Patent attorneys/examiners have an important role and are paid accordingly, but their contribution and involvement is purely legal, with maybe a dusting exposure to technical content. If you want to remain loosely up to date on science/technology, read Scientific American.

TLDR: patent examination is a good way to make money and give you flexibility on work location, but trade off is a damn boring job, possibly a tense work atmosphere (deadlines), and possibly a feeling of wasting your time.

Frs1661

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Re: Semi-retirement job: patent examiner?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2016, 04:55:48 PM »
All good points! I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering so I should have the technical knowledge to qualify. The PTO is in biking range of my house which is a major pro, as is the eventual ability to work remotely. I currently do hands on research and enjoy it, but it's hard to 'turn off' at the end of the work day. So it is constantly on my mind and this can be stressful. The patent work is probably easier to leave behind after work, but is likely to suck way more during the day. It's an option I may eventually explore

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