Alternative careers for an engineering graduate

Many assume that studying engineering at university means you are going to become an engineer once you graduate. While this is most often the case, there are different routes you can take that both utilises your skills and allows you to exercise your passion for engineering. We are going to look at just a couple of the alternative careers for an engineering graduate, below.

Patent Attorney

People see the word ‘attorney’ and think that you need a law degree. But, in reality, to be a Patent Attorney, a science or an engineering degree works to your advantage.

A Patent Attorney is a specialist that advises clients on patents and other intellectual property rights. They assist clients in obtaining patents granted by patent offices around the world. They may be employed by companies and work ‘in-house’, or work for an Intellectual Property firm.

So why does an engineer make a good Patent Attorney? Quite simply, your engineering background means that you can understand a client’s invention. As a Patent Attorney, you will draft the description of the product and make the case for the patent office to grant your client the patent. The ability to analyse technical documents and understand why your client’s invention is different to what has been done before is a key element of becoming and being a Patent Attorney.

Some of the areas you may work in as an engineering graduate include:

  • Industrial equipment & machinery
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Transport infrastructure
  • Nanotechnology
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Chemical engineering

As a Patent Attorney, you will utilise your scientific knowledge and analytical reasoning every day.

How do I become a Patent Attorney?

A pre-requisite for becoming a Patent Attorney is a degree, preferably in a STEM subject. You will then have to take two qualifications after you graduate; the Foundation Level and the Final Level. Your employer will have a preferred route that they will support you in undertaking and many Intellectual Property firms will provide in-house training and support.

You may also want to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA). CIPA is the representative body for the profession. It establishes, maintains and enforces their standards of professional conduct and compliance. This is done by regulating members’ professional conduct through the Patent Regulation Board, part of the Intellectual Property Board. CIPA also act as the official voice of the profession before the Government and other official bodies.

Members of CIPA include Patent Attorneys who work in small, medium and large private practices and Patent Attorneys that work in industrial departments. You can find out more about CIPA and what they do by going to their website.

You can find out more about a career as a Patent Attorney by taking a look at this Chartered Patent Attorney guide.

Trade Mark Attorney

A sign that is instantly recognisable, the trademark can be anything from a word, a logo or even a taste. A Trade Mark Attorney is a lawyer that is specially qualified to advise clients on a range of trade mark issues and will assist clients in selecting new trademarks and ensuring that said trademark is available for registration.

Managing conflicts is a major part of a Trade Mark Attorney’s role. You may represent your client in legal proceedings to prevent anyone else from registering identical or similar trade mark rights. Alternatively, you may be defending a client accused of infringement.

How do you become a Trade Mark Attorney?

To become a Trade Mark Attorney, you will have to have the necessary work experience and pass qualifying examinations. These examinations are made up of two courses, the first covers the intricacies of trade mark law and the second is a skills-based course where you learn how to apply the law in practice.

You will also have the chance to become chartered and join the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA). CITMA set the standard for Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys and maintain these high standards by a strong code of conduct and continuing professional development requirements. To become a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney, you will have to pass an examination and a training programme. To find out more about CITMA and what they do, you can look at their website.

Both careers offer you a chance to use your expertise in engineering, exercise your analytical reasoning and challenge you intellectually every day. You can find career advice and profiles on those in working in both of these professions, from graduates to senior partners, at IPCareers.

About the author: Holly Martin is the Editorial & Marketing Assistant at IP Careers, a jobs board specialising in Intellectual Property Careers. They also publish a printed guide to Chartered Patent Attorneys in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.