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What They Do

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Inventors come up with hundreds of ideas for everything from toys to improved tires. Once they believe they have a good concept, inventors apply for a patent, search out the licensing of the product and look for someone who wants to produce the item.

Failure is a big part of the invention process. Nothing works the first time. When an inventor's idea fails, they work harder to improve the concept or to change their problem-solving techniques.

Many inventors are self-employed. Some work part time or in their spare time. Others are retired from other professions, such as engineering. Other inventors work for large companies and corporations, working full time to improve their products.

An inventor working for a corporation may have the luxury of working regular office hours. Those who are self-employed tend to work longer hours and can tinker with ideas at all hours of the day.

"There are really two types of inventors," says Harry VanDyke. He is an inventor. "There are people who work and invent on their own. And there are people who work for companies, such as engineers."

The physical requirements for an inventor depend upon the type of work being done. If an inventor is building large prototype models, some physical strength is needed. However, some inventors can design and draft ideas with the aid of a computer in the comfort of their own home.

At a Glance

Come up with something new

  • Be prepared to keep trying in the face of failure
  • Self-employed inventors can tinker with ideas at all hours of the day
  • An education in science and engineering may be useful


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.