The United States Patent and Trademark Office patent examining corps is comprised of over 6,000 patent examiners in various 'art units' arranged in accordance with their specialties. Nearly all patent examiners have been stationed in Alexandria, VA for over 200 years. However, modern times have brought distribution to our patent office and a first satellite office in Detroit is coming on line. Patent examiners will live in either Detroit or DC. It might seem like Silicon Valley, California would be a better choice, but as our government is more interested in social engineering experiments rather than efficiency, they've decided to save Detroit with your patent fees rather than establish a highly qualified integrated system which cooperates with the technical community.
Patent examiners have a very tough job. Theirs is a task a bit like defense attorneys who defend the guilty – fight hard and vigorously, but lose often. Not only that, but building a case against patentability from the prior art is very complex. Even where one knows the rules very well, the art is not always cooperative. Pay is low, burnout is extreme and turnover is high. All this takes a terrible toll on quality. While our current commissioner is doing many good things to bring about positive change, the examining corps remains less than perfect. The good news is that things are tending to more in the right direction now. Moral is on the improve and the backlog is being cleared. All things considered, you'd have to say optimism is the dominate tone for now.
If you'd like to become a patent Examiner, you might want to visit the USPTO examiner employment page to learn more. If you are a U.S. citizen, have a 4 year science degree and are willing to work in D.C. (possibly Detroit) then you may apply to become an examiner.