A lot of software developer jobs list "a CS degree or equivalent work experience" as a requirement. I have a degree in a somewhat related field but only about 6 months of on-the-job experience as an intern and then a severely underpaid developer. How much work experience will it take for employers to consider me as on par with a CS graduate, and take me seriously as a candidate for a junior level position?
closed as not constructive by Jim G., CincinnatiProgrammer, jcmeloni, Kate Gregory, enderland Apr 8 '13 at 21:59
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Some people may have 20 years experience as software developers but in practice are juniors (no idea about separation of concerns, design patterns, SOLID and DRY).
Some people come out with CS degree and need to learn software engineering from scratch (never worked in a team, wouldn't know maintainable code if it hit them in the face, source control is a new concept etc, etc, etc...).
My point with the above two paragraphs is that the comparison is meaningless. Experience does not translate to a CS degree and vice versa.
What matters is provable capability - some of that comes from experience, but not all.
If you can show your developer chops (open source projects or your own private projects) and impress them, they will consider you.
I usually see the line CS degree or equivalent. Or the line: "Bachelors degree plus 10 years experience, or masters with 5 years experience, or PHD +1 year experience."
When it is written this way it means that if there is an automated process to screen applicants or resumes the lack of degree will stop the resume from being moved forward. I have even seen a resume rejected because they wanted a BS, and the person had a BA.
The requirements "CS degree or equivalent" means that they will take a large assortment of technical degrees. They can even take a degree if is not technical but related to the subject matter. The less automated the screen the better the chances of them taking a degree in marketing.
In a few cases I have seen them write the line: "X years experience developing software, a Bachelors degree can substitute for A years, or an advanced degree can substitute for B years."
In this case they can be very flexible.
Remember that they might also trying to meet the requirements of a customer. If they are a government contractor, the customer frequently establishes for the contract the specific rate levels. If the applicant can't meet the requirements for the lowest rate category they can't be hired for the position. The category and rate level they fit into determines the maximum salary for that contracted position.
If they don't state the amount of experience, you should apply anyway. You've done an internship and have a full-time job as a programmer.
The low salary at this point in your career would be considered as a valid reason to leave that job.
Make sure you have strong recommendations from your internship. While you are looking at other jobs and hopefully landing interviews, keep track of the skills they want. You maybe able to do some new project at work where they can implemented.
I can't imagine a years worth of experience, wouldn't get you past the lack of degree for a junior position. There may be some companies that just prefer college graduates, so there's no getting around this bias in their mind.
If the posting states "relevant work experience considered in lieu of a degree", apply for the job. Basically what they're asking for is proof you can do the job, and you can answer that two ways; by showing them you've been taught to do the job, or by showing them you've already done it. If you have a few years' experience at a job level roughly equivalent to what they're hiring for, you should be considered (perhaps even more so in this environment since without a degree you'll probably be asking for less). That gets you the interview, where you show them you can do the job.