So what about the option of becoming a patent agent? For starters, it is a less difficult, less risky and less costly transition from engineer to patent agent than going through law school. In addition, as a patent agent you never have to bring in business to survive. But you are still dependent on others bringing in enough work for you to do. You can still make very good money, although not the potential money that top rainmaking partners can get. But then, you don’t have a lot of the demands and pressures a partner does. To become a patent agent, you need to meet three core requirements.
1. A high level technical degree that is in demand, such as a PhD in sciences such as biology and chemistry. However, in EE and CS a Masters will do about as well.
2. Registration with the patent bar. I told him that if he has not taken the patent exam, he should ASAP. It will help him determine whether he really wants to be an IP lawyer or patent agent.
3. At least two years of experience (ideally) of patent prosecution experience. Small firms or companies are the best bet for this, and this would also help you determine if IP is for you.
Once you have these three things, you will be a strong candidate for becoming a successful patent agent. As for whether you should give up a good engineering career to be a patent agent, that is a separate question that is best answered by the individual candidate. For this question also, “sticking a toe in the water” by taking the patent exam and obtaining some patent prosecution experience will help you decide which career is right for you.