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Patent Examiner

Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites

Patent examiners investigate patent applications and report on whether they comply with the requirements of Australian patent legislation before granting patent rights for new inventions.

The work of patent examiners is technically complex.

It involves knowledge of technical processes used in industry and advances in scientific research.

It also involves making legalistic decisions based on their knowledge of patent law.


    Patent examiners may perform the following tasks:

  • analyse application documents to determine whether legislative requirements are met
  • assess whether the patent rights sought are justified and match the invention's technical description
  • search online databases to discover similar patents held in Australia and overseas
  • assess whether the advances claimed for the originality of the invention's features are new
  • communicate with the patent applicant or their legal representative
  • depending on experience, either recommend or approve the acceptance of a patent application


  • decision-making and research skills
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • able to work as part of a team
  • Australian citizenship or eligibility to apply for citizenship
Good Outlook
Good Outlook for this career!

Interest Area

Clerical/Administrative Figures/Computational Literary


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites

To become a patent examiner you usually have to complete a degree in science or engineering at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in science and engineering.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact Open Universities Australia or the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

Patent examiners are primarily employed by IP Australia, the government body responsible for administering Australia's intellectual property (IP) rights, including patents, trademarks, designs and plant breeders' rights. IP Australia recruits graduates from a range of science and engineering disciplines, including mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology, electronics, telecommunications, computer science and physics. The ability to speak a second language may be an advantage.

People engaged as patent examiners are required to successfully complete a competence-based training course conducted by IP Australia. Patent examiners are paid full salary while undertaking the training course. The training programme is subject to assessment and must be successfully completed.

For details of relevant fields, see the separate entries for Chemical Engineer, Chemist, Computer Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Electronics Engineer, Mechanical Engineer and Physicist.


Experienced patent examiners have additional career opportunities in other government departments, in the patent sections of large companies or as technical assistants at the numerous patent attorney firms.

Vacancies with IP Australia are advertised by APS Jobs and on the IP Australia website.

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