What is intellectual property?
Why work in ideas?
What careers are there in ideas?
Pathways, salary and rewards
A career for anyone
Intellectual property – or ‘IP’ – is anything that might be worth something, but where the valuable bit is more of an idea than a physical object. See our jargon buster.
A house is ‘property’, because there’s something physical there. The design for a house, on the other hand, is intellectual property because, even when it’s drawn out on blueprints, it’s the idea that’s valuable, not the paper it’s printed on. Read more…
Careers in ideas offer rich rewards to people from all backgrounds and with a range of skills.
Salaries, even for school-leavers, start at around £18,000 and reach dizzying heights for top professionals. But the rewards are more than financial: these careers involve responsibility, they command respect, and they can take you all over the world.
They mix creativity with the practical application of imagination through science and engineering. They combine the detailed eye of a lawyer with an enterprising business brain. And they bring together opportunities in arts and media with solutions to global challenges.
Intellectual property is a current flowing under so much of modern society. That means working in IP puts you at the heart of important developments.
From high-flying lawyers to super-efficient administrators, from innovative designers to international business people, there are many careers in ideas and intellectual property. Read more…
Take a closer look at just some of the roles, read case studies of people who do those jobs and search for openings and opportunities for jobs, work experience and internships.
There are career openings in intellectual property for everyone from school-leavers at 16 through to postgraduates with Masters or PhD-level qualifications. Read more…
At the more junior level, the opportunities are mostly in administrative roles. Given the level of qualifications needed (starting from a base level of GCSE-level Maths and English), these are varied and exciting roles, that soon come with plenty of responsibility and decent pay. For starters who demonstrate good organisational and business skills, there are promotion opportunities to a certain level.
The more senior roles though are for graduates and will require formal qualifications, usually in sciences, in engineering, in law, or even some combination of more than one of them. Many jobs will also involve on-the-job training to reach chartered status or a minimum licence to practice.
For more details, take a look at the descriptions of different roles here.
It is always worth trying to get work experience in the IP sector. That helps candidates test whether it is the right career, helps to develop their understanding of the industry and demonstrates their commitment. The supporters of the Careers in Ideas website have all committed to providing such opportunities and, for current openings, look here.
The wide demands of careers in IP – legal, technical, scientific and administrative – mean there are opportunities for everyone, regardless of background, race, gender, sexuality or physical ability. Read more…
All sorts of people find fulfilling careers in IP, from different backgrounds in different roles. The jobs are generally well paid and offer more than just money. There are challenges, excitements, recognition and responsibility.
Meet some of those people here and hear their stories…
Did you know?
In 1955, Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio. Had he patented it, he would have earned an estimated $7 billion, but – for the sake of humanity – he decided not to.
An accessible, 12-page A5 introduction to careers in intellectual property for you to print and distribute. Perfect for advisors, teachers, parents and students themselves.Download
Ready-to-print full colour poster for you to print for your classroom, careers noticeboard or pride of place above the mantlepiece. Provided as A4 portrait and scaleable to A3 or other sizes as preferred.Download
A quick guide to careers in ideas in just 6 slides, available as a PDF or as an annotated Powerpoint (.ppt) file for you to present.Download
Working at the Intellectual Property Office, a trade mark examiner assesses whether an application for a trade …
Key skills: An analytical mind and the ability to communicate clearly and accurately in written reports
Needs: At least 2 A levels (or equivalent)
Patents can be complicated and technical, but they need to be understood by people all over the …
Key skills: Amazing language skills - nothing short of bilingual
Needs: Ideally a degree in languages & a Masters or diploma in translation
If you want to use someone else’s intellectual property – whether it’s a patent, music rights, or …
Key skills: A business and legal mind-set and excellent negotiation skills
Needs: Usually you need a degree, preferably in law (or maybe in science for patent licensing)
IP administrators are the ones who make the office run smoothly by providing administrative and secretarial support
Key skills: Great time management and organisation skills
Needs: GCSEs as a minimum, and ideally office experience
If you own a brand, you want to ensure that no one can cash in on your …
Key skills: An eye for detail and the ability to communicate clearly with clients
Needs: Usually a 2:1 degree, often in law or business
A lot of the best research goes on in universities. Sometimes, research teams realise they’ve created or …
Key skills: A bit of science, a bit of law, and a lot of business enterprise
Needs: Typically a science degree, or a law or business degree together with a keen interest in science and technology
IP is a world of intrigues and innovations, breakthroughs and break-ups. Somebody needs to tell these stories, …
Key skills: An inquiring mind and a sharp writing style
Needs: An understanding of the law and science could be helpful (but isn't essential).
If you invent something, how do you know no one else has thought of it before? You …
Key skills: A strong head for analysing and interpreting numbers/stats
Needs: A degree in a science area
When we think of lawyers, we often think of people arguing a case in court. That’s pretty …
Key skills: Ability to get to the heart of complicated disputes quickly & tease out relevant issues
Needs: A good law degree or law conversion course. Then lots of training
A patent examiner who works at the European Patent Office (EPO) performs a similar job to a …
Key skills: Excellent language skills in English, French or German
Needs: Dependent on specific job within sector
A solicitor gives legal advice to clients and represents them in negotiations or disputes.
Key skills: Legal & business skills like negotiating, commercial acumen, interpersonal skills
Needs: A good law degree or law conversion course, then the Legal Practice Course
A judge presides over legal disputes in courts or in hearings, ruling on matters of law and …
Key skills: Years of successful experience as a senior barrister or solicitor
Needs: Years of successful experience as a senior barrister or solicitor
Working at the Intellectual Property Office, a patent examiner decides whether applications for patents can be granted.
Key skills: Good technical knowledge and communication skills
Needs: A degree in a science, technology or maths discipline
Legal secretaries and paralegal assistants do all sorts of jobs such as filing and routine tasks, managing …
Key skills: Good time management, an ability to hit deadlines in a busy environment
Needs: 5 GCSEs (or equivalent)
A patent attorney is someone who’s qualified to give advice to people about patents and to act …
Key skills: English language skills, an aptitude for law, a close eye for detail
Needs: Science or engineering degree, possibly a PhD
Formalities examiners check that when people (or companies) apply for their ownership of IP to be officially …
Key skills: Well organised and able to organise other people. A stickler for detail
Needs: 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) - preferably more