I'm a Java Software developer, planning to move to Toronto from South America in the next few months. The problem is, I have not finished my Bachelors Degree in CS, but I have a few years of experience working as a full time developer for many companies. Here where I live, the Bachelors Degree is not a must have in order to get a job, and since I had to pay for it myself I could not finish it yet.

Do you guys think I could get a job in Toronto with a incomplete degree, experience and a Java Programmer I certificate? If so, I would receive an entry level salary?

EDIT: Explaining my situation a little bit better, I could finish my degree in one year, although that would be hard and expensive. I can see that not having a degree could make it harder for me to get a job, but the urge to left my country has led me to consider this possibility.

I thought I could go with a working permit, find work there and then apply for permanent residency, and, if possible, finish my degree in Canada.

  • 2
    Hey Marcio, and welcome to Expatriates! Could you edit your question with a bit of clarification on what you're going to do? Are you going to find a job prior to coming to Canada? Are you going to apply for work permission without an offer lined up? Are you going to go on a non-work visa and job hunt hoping to find an offer once you get there? The requirements for each of these is different according to the government, so it would be helpful to be specific on what your plans are. Thanks in advance!
    – jmac
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 5:36
  • 1
    Keep in mind that many countries require at least a bachelors degree or a significant professional experience as a condition for a work permit for foreigners.
    – littleadv
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 7:59
  • @littleadv You might want to submit that as an answer, I think it's a really important point, beyond the general job market issues that are not specific to expatriates.
    – Gala
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:50
  • 1
    @jmac What I want to do is move to Canada permanently. Searching for ways to do that, I saw that one possibility, apparently the faster, was to apply for a work permit (a process that take around 4 months) and then ask for permanent residency while already living in Canada. I even found a few job descriptions requiring "a Bachelors Degree or equivalent working experience", and that led to my question. It would be awesome to get there already employed, but I think it would be easyer to find a job living there. I will edit the question to better explain my situation.
    – MarcioB
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 13:14

4 Answers 4


In my experience, I have found that the international opportunities available to me have been greatly enhanced by having a Bachelors degree. None of the international moves I have made would have been possible without it.

You will want to check the requirements for applying for a work permit for Canada to see whether a Bachelors degree is required for your field of work. (Since there are already many Canadian Java software developers, you may need to show that you bring exceptional skills to your employer.)


I work in a software company in Southwest Ontario. We hire people without a bachelor degree, but the hurdle is high. As mentioned in another response: It's not necessary to get a job, but it will be difficult to get interviews. Your starting salary will probably also be lower compared to an undergraduate. To get interviews you need to pass the filters of the recruiters.

You mentioned that you have 27 years of experience in software development. That can make up for the missing degree. In the end it will be the decision of the hiring manager whether she/he will give you a chance to talk to them or not. As usual: personal connections can help you to stand out from the crowd. Also: You might want to look into other areas than just Toronto.

Good luck! I'm an immigrant to Canada myself and I was lucky to transfer within my company.

  • No, Im 27 years old, Scott has 27 years of experience! Actualy I could finish my degree in a year (with a lot of effort) but since I have decided to migrate to Canada I cant wait to left my country...
    – MarcioB
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 3:33
  • sorry, mixed up that one. Commented May 23, 2014 at 3:41
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    Yeah, I'm the old guy without a degree. Mind you, I am still an expat-programmer with plenty of experience :)
    – Scott Earle
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 4:57
  • @SteffenRoller In my last comment I might have sounded a little rough, Im sorry for that. I can see the need for the degree, but I wish I could go to Canada soon... well, seems like I have to finish it first, It would be bad to always be worried with not having a degree.
    – MarcioB
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 15:53
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    @MarcioB No worries. You might want to go to college in Canada though. A bachelor degree from a university or college outside of the country is not always recognized or sometimes deemed inferior. So IF you can immigrate and find a job you could go to school while working. That is very hard though. Commented May 24, 2014 at 17:05

I don't disagree with the other answers about getting a job, but your question is missing an important point.

Having a Bachelors degree will be a huge help in acquiring Permanent Residence.

Canadian immigration works on a points system, and you will get a substantial number of points for completing your degree. While not having one won't exclude you, especially with software development skills, it will be more difficult to immigrate without one - even if you have worked in Canada already.

Given the combination of both difficultly getting a job and of immigrating, I would recommend finishing your degree.


What I have learned over the years is that good experience and ability to understand problems and discuss solutions, can get you a decent job.

However, having a degree will get you interviews.

Companies are usually flooded with CVs (resumes or whatever), and the HR department (or recruitment agency, or poor person who got roped into sorting through potential candidates) usually have nothing to distinguish between candidates except for what THEY understand. And they generally aren't programmers themselves. Usually, that means that they look for a degree, and big company names.

Another thing that might be worth mentioning - you say you have experience with MANY companies? That can also make you look like a job-hopper, and it's worth playing down a little on a CV. Focus on the relevant ones, and keep the rest to a minimum.

  • I forgot to say - I am a programmer with 27 years of experience, and no degree.
    – Scott Earle
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 2:00
  • I am 27 years old :) I've begun to work early, thats why I have worked in five companies.
    – MarcioB
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 2:30
  • The experience will probably work in your favour. Good experience is worth more to an employer than the degree - once you get past the interview.
    – Scott Earle
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 2:32

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