Become a patent examiner

Our patent examiners play a key role in helping inventors protect and share their new inventions.

What is a patent examiner?

A patent examiner reviews and assesses patent applications to make sure they meet the legislative requirements of the Patents Act 1990.

What do they do?

As a patent examiner, you'll be among the first to see cutting-edge technology long before it becomes public knowledge and play an integral role in the innovation process.

Your day to day will include:

  • Analysing and interpreting information
  • Assessing detailed written descriptions of inventions and associated claims to determine whether the patent can be granted
  • Searching patent and scientific databases to determine whether the invention is new and inventive.

Examiners work independently and as part of a small team. In addition, examiners must:

  • Take responsibility for, and management of, their own work
  • Meet set targets
  • Perform other search, examination and administrative tasks to achieve team and organisational goals.

What makes a good examiner?

In order to become a patent examiner you'll need:

  • A recognised degree or diploma
    • Overseas degrees must conform to Australian professional standards and be formally recognised
  • Appropriate industry experience
  • To be fluent in written and spoken English.

Qualities and skills

We're looking for the following qualities and skills in our patent examiners:

  • Sound technical knowledge and the ability to adapt it
  • The ability to apply legal concepts
  • Highly developed research, analytical and conceptual thinking
  • Demonstrated ability to understand and articulate complex ideas verbally and in writing
  • Demonstrated ability to learn and apply legal concepts
  • Demonstrated desire for continued learning and ability to learn through feedback
  • The ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Sound decision making.

Additional qualifications

We're especially interested in people with specialised experience in science and technology.

We're particularly interested in recruiting people with experience and qualifications in these science/technology areas.

Chemical engineering

Engineers with a strong background in at least one of the following:

  • Hydrocarbons, fuels and lubricants
  • Ventilation, refrigeration, heating/cooling, air conditioning and heat exchange
  • Plastics moulding
  • Layered products/laminates
  • Vacuum cleaners and domestic cleaning
  • Filters and separation.

Additional expertise in the following areas is also of interest:

  • Batteries and fuel cells
  • Pollution control, treatment and sequestration
  • Solar panels and solar cells.

Chemistry, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals

Scientists with backgrounds in:

  • Pure or applied chemistry
  • Industrial chemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biochemistry.

People with a strong background in at least one of the following:

  • Biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry
  • Molecular biology, immunology and cell biology, especially with backgrounds in genome, developmental and stem-cell biology
  • Biochemical, chemical, nucleic acid, peptide and immunological analysis and assays, especially:
    • Instrumental analysis
    • Use of array techniques in analysis
    • Protein/molecular screening
    • Protein/molecular diagnostics
    • Cell assay techniques.

Communications, computing and electrical engineering

Engineers or scientists in electronics, telecommunications, computer engineering, computer science and electrical engineering with a strong background in at least one of the following:

  • Telecommunications, internet protocols, wireless networks, wireless protocols or electronic control systems
  • Data processing, computer software, e-commerce or speech recognition
  • Information storage and retrieval technologies, and computer networks
  • Power engineering and/or electrical components, such as switches and connectors.

Mechanical engineering

Engineers from a variety of disciplines, including:

  • Mechanical
  • Transport, including automotive and marine
  • Agricultural
  • Civil
  • Manufacturing
  • Munitions
  • Mining or petroleum engineering.

Medical devices

Engineers or scientists with a background or an interest in medical devices, including:

  • Heart valves
  • Blood pumps
  • Stents
  • Prostheses
  • Breathing-assistance devices
  • Catheters
  • Syringes.

Physics

Physicists with a strong background in at least one of the following:

  • Semiconductor devices and processing
  • Optical devices and systems
  • Micro/nano technology
  • Measurement and sensing.

Considerations before you apply

Although examiner training is office-based, we offer opportunities for flexible working arrangements, including home-based work, after you complete the training program.

Examination work:

  • Is intensively keyboard and screen-based
  • Involves a lot of time sitting or standing at an adjustable workstation, working at a computer, using both a laptop and dual-desktop screens
  • Involves repetitive hand/arm actions and fine hand coordination
  • Involves fine visual attention to detail and concentration.

If you have musculoskeletal or visual vulnerabilities, you can reach out to the contact officer for more details, including the availability of reasonable adjustments. Their name and contact details will be provided on the role advertisement.

Examiner training

After you've accepted an employment offer from us, we'll provide detailed training to help support you in your new role.

What the training involves

We provide legal and procedural training to enable patent examiners to perform their duties effectively.

The program is based on the technical skills required to successfully apply the:

  • Legislative tests of the Patents Act 1990
  • Skills required in line with the capability framework.

The initial full-time training course is competency based, which includes formal and on-the-job training. It includes:

  • Basic procedures in:
    • How IP Australia works
    • Patent legislation
    • Examination practices
  • How to make use of appropriate references and resources. For example, how to consistently apply the tests set out in case law
  • Teamwork and time management training, which are fundamental to being an effective member of an examination team
  • Examination work under close supervision.

As a condition of engagement, you're required to:

  • Successfully demonstrate competency in all areas in the training program
  • Attain Acceptance Delegation within specified time frames.

What to expect

Here's what to expect when you train to become an examiner:

  • You'll be required to meet specific milestones during each stage of the training program
  • Each stage must be completed before advancing to the next stage
  • You must complete all stages of the program successfully to meet the conditions of employment.

When you complete the program, you can examine patents independently.

As your career as a patent examiner progresses, your work may expand to include:

  • Supervision
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching responsibilities.

Frequently asked questions

Have a burning question? Check out the answers to our most frequently asked questions.

When do we advertise examiner positions?

We generally recruit twice a year. Positions are advertised on our website and on APS Jobs.

You can register your interest in these roles at any time. We'll notify you when we're running a recruitment round.

Can I apply for a job if I'm not an Australian citizen?

No, you have to be an Australian citizen. In limited circumstances, roles may be open to Australian permanent residents. We'll clearly indicate this in our advertising text and position profile information at the time of advertising the vacancy.

If you have further questions, you can reach out to our patent recruitment team at patentsrecruitment@ipaustralia.gov.au.

Related Contents

Work at IP Australia

We're committed to finding great people to work at IP Australia. If you're interested in a role with us, learn about our recruitment process and see our tips for your application.

Why work with us

At IP Australia, we play a lead role in helping Australians recognise and protect their great ideas. We also offer a flexible, challenging, and innovative work environment.

Patents Apply

What are patents?

A patent protects any device, substance, method or process that's new, inventive and useful.