I just caught this question in an old, old comment (here) to the Why do I blog? post.
Why did I become a patent agent?
Funny enough, it's a rather simple answer. I majored in physics in college (math minor too). What does one do with a physics major? Well, I figured there were two primary tracks - teaching and research, both of which would involve getting a Ph.D. I had almost no interest in getting a masters, let alone a Ph.D. Plus I knew that the college teaching field, at least for physics, was pretty difficult. And I didn't want to do research. I also wasn't ready to get a job and enter the real world just yet.
So what do you do? Well, I'd heard of patent attorneys. I kind of liked "the law" from some limited experiences, including the mock trial team in high school. I figured law school was a good step, and it was. In law school, I got a little experience with an intellectual property firm and had a brief idea of what the work was like.
After law school, I was looking for anything in intellectual property. I happened to get a job with a small patent firm, writing and prosecuting patent applications. I think I enjoy it and, coincidentally, I think I'm pretty good at it. The good news is that I don't need to pass the state bar to do my job. Since I've passed the patent bar, I am fully credentialed.
It's often interesting work. I see lots of new inventions and technology. Some of it is engaging, and the work usually requires a mixture of thinking, analysis and writing skills. It works for me. The jury is still out whether this is what I do indefinitely, but it may very well be. It becomes harder to argue with the salary and benefits. Plus my current firm is absolutely fantastic. For now, for the foreseeable future, this is what I do and I do it well.