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Patent Examiner (Chemical Engineering)


The physical worksite for this position is located in Alexandria, Virginia. However, patent examiners may choose to perform their duties throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
As a U.S. patent examiner, you will use your specialized background to review applications to determine whether patents can be granted for inventions. Patents give inventors the right to exclude others from making or selling their inventions for a limited time. That means that patent examiners are critical to protecting American innovation!

As a patent examiner, you will spend your time:
  • Searching prior art using specialized technology systems to ensure that an invention is new and unique. Prior art is information that has been disclosed to the public about an invention before a given date including related patents, published articles and public demonstrations.
  • Reviewing patent applications for potentially new inventions and innovations to ensure they meet the agency's requirements.
  • Writing legal office actions on patentability and respond to patent applications.
New patent examiners receive top-notch training during the first months on the job that will give you the tools you need to be successful in your role.

GS-7: At the GS-7 level, you will perform basic patent examining tasks with extensive instructions from your supervisor. You will receive months of valuable training that will help you do your job well. This training will develop your ability to apply technical concepts to patent examining. Your assignments will pair performance of productive work with supervised on-the-job training.

GS-09: At the GS-9 level, you will independently perform intermediate patent examining tasks with some supervision. Your assignments will be of average difficulty and require you to apply technical concepts to patent examining. You may perform advanced patent examining with supervision (e.g., evaluation of special claim constructions, requirement of restrictions, recognition and development of probable interferences, etc.). These advanced activities are supported by close review.

Almost all of a patent examiner's work is performed using a computer and requires careful and frequent visual tasks.

This is a Chemical Engineering position. If this is not your area of expertise, we have openings for patent examiner positions in disciplines such as:
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
Please search USAJOBS for "Patent Examiner" or consult our Careers Website for further information.

Note: If you are a student who will be graduating soon, you can still apply! Applications will be accepted from students who expect to complete their qualifying education within 9 months from the date of application. The USPTO requires verification of successful completion before your start date.

Conditions of Employment

  • Applicants must be United States Citizens or Nationals.
  • Your resume and question responses must demonstrate the job-related competencies.
  • You must meet the definition of specialized experience.
  • Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (
  • If selected, you may be required to complete a one year probationary period.
  • You must meet all qualification requirements upon the closing date of this announcement.
  • You must be suitable for Federal Employment.