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Equivalent Work Experience


The term equivalent work experience refers to the knowledge an individual possesses that would be equal to the educational requirements appearing on a job posting. While there is no universal standard for equivalent work experience, this phrase is oftentimes used by employers when describing a job’s requirements.


Also referred to as experience in lieu of a degree, equivalent work experience is a term that frequently appears on job postings. While the phrase oftentimes refers to an educational requirement, it can also refer to specific coursework or a certification.

Unless required by law, employers will consider job candidates that possess work experience deemed equivalent to a specific minimum requirement. Allowing candidates possessing equivalent experience to be considered for a job opening provides employers with a larger pool of candidates to select for an interview.

There is no universal standard for equivalent experience; however, the table below demonstrates reasonable ranges:

Education Equivalent Work Experience
Associate Degree Eighteen months to four years
Bachelor’s Degree Four to eight years
Master’s Degree Ten or more years

When applying for a job, it’s the candidate’s responsibility to provide conclusive evidence, and clearly demonstrate, they have the equivalent work experience. The types of evidence normally submitted may include:

  • Mastery of the required skills as demonstrated through specific work assignments.
  • Transcripts demonstrating the candidate successfully completed general education and coursework required for the degree.
  • Publications written by the applicant that demonstrate they would be considered a subject matter expert.
  • Verifiable work experience appearing on the candidate’s resume.

While a company’s human resources department is typically responsible for verifying the information appearing in a job application and resume, determining whether a candidate possesses equivalent work experience is usually a decision made by the hiring manager.

Related Terms

entry level job, apprenticeship, internship, returnship