Job Fields in Intellectual Property & Health Policy

Intellectual Property

In order to protect innovations from copies and exploitation, they  should firstly be secured with industrial property rights before being launched onto markets. With these rights, exclusivity of the innovation and the control of commercialization and collaboration is ensured.

In Europe, intellectual property (IP) receives protection either through the National Patent Office (e.g. German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA)) or the European patent office (EPO).

Job opportunities as patent lawyer, patent examiner or patent engineers are becoming increasingly popular for scientist. While the job of a patent examiner and patent engineer can be directly entered with a Masters degree and preferably one year of working experience, the year of working experience and up to three years of additional law studies are required to enter the position of a patent lawyer. Given the required working experience for a patent lawyer, it is rather usual that scientists apply after a PhD or even after a Postdoc.

Working as a patent lawyer does not only imply higher salaries, but also a greater diversity of job opportunities: you can work in a law firm or in industry. While patent law firms take over the whole patent application process for their clients from various fields and defend these IPs at the patent offices, patent lawyers in industry generally perform the same for the company they are working for. Thus, their working field might be a bit more specific and less diverse than in a law firm.

Patent examiners work either at a national patent office or the EPO, representing the opposite position to a patent lawyer, i.e. examining the newest inventions handed in with the patent applications. Thereby, patent examiners evaluate the innovations by scientific, analytical and legal aspects. No further education is required for this position, but commonly up to two year training is provided at the patent office upon job start. Salaries of patent examiners are high at the DPMA and very high at the EPO.

There also exist assisting patent lawyers know as patent engineers, which support patent lawyers in their work. Thus, this position can be an interesting option to get to know the IP field without having to directly enter the patent law studies.

Job Positions:

Patent Lawyer, Patent Agent, Patent Engineer, Patent Examiner


Analytical thinking, interest in IP, patent law, complex text understanding, custom. contact


 Links with further information

Patent Lawyer:  

Patent Examiner: 


Source:   Gramlich, P., Bodewits, K. (2018). PhD! And, next? A guide for natural- and life scientists. Munich:    

Public Affairs / Health Policy

Public affairs practitioners engage in building and developing relations between an organization, politicians/governments and other decisions-makers such as shareholders, trade associations, charities and unions. They aim at influencing public policy and find common ground with stakeholders. Public affairs practitioners often work in-house, for a consultancy with changing clients or as freelancers. Their activities are wide-ranging and include: Lobbying; monitoring the most up to date information; media management (PR activities with a political focus); organizing and attending events (to invite and meet with stakeholders) and general networking and providing information to stakeholders.
Required skills: enthusiasm for politics and current affairs, communication and research, analyze and summarize written material quickly, time management, working under tight deadlines

Working in Public Policy gives you the opportunity to have an impact on national and international policy in your field. As a technical expert in fields such as environmental issues, healthcare or energy you work directly with lawmakers or advise government programs. Scientific advisors could e.g. write policy briefs to keep politicians informed about the possible impact of technological developments. Positions can be found at international organizations such as EU and UN, at think tanks and economic institutions and the parliament.
Required skills: persuasive communication to non-scientists, collaboration, writing, interest in political processes, keeping up to date with new developments, critical thinking and creativity

The Public Health field is wide and can include careers such as epidemiologist, public relations specialist and health educator. The careers can range from identifying diseases, creating public policy or helping e.g. minority groups integrate into new communities. Public Health can be a subfield in public affairs, public policy as well as public administration.
Required skills: Advocacy, communications skills (verbal and written), analytical- and problem solving skills, empathy

In Public Administration you fulfill often complex administrative roles revolving around event organization, outreach activities, providing information to clients, as well as overseeing and implementing programs for organizations. Often you are directing and advising other employees like program officers, researchers and consultants. When working for foundations, you may evaluate grant proposals and organize panels.
Required skills: coordination and organization, strategic and operational planning, evaluating and understanding proposals and scientific developments, strategic vision

As a scientist in Forensics, you prepare traces of physical evidence for use in courts of law. Rather than working in the field, you mainly work in a lab and analyze samples that are being delivered. You can directly work for the police and in government labs, but those jobs are often outsorced to specialized companies.

Job Positions:

Public Health Programme Analyst, PR, Scientific Advisor / Science Policy expert, Biostatistician


Political process insights, analytical skills, writing & communication to non-scientists, consultation, advocacy, time management


 Links with further information

Public Health Programme Analyst, PR, Scientific Advisor / Science Policy Expert, Biostatistician, Epidemiologist, Medical Informaticist, Forensic Expert, Science Founder and Administrator:


Source: Gramlich, P., Bodewits, K. (2018). PhD! And, next? A guide for natural- and life scientists. Munich: