How to calculate "years of experience" without real industry experience?

One thing that I have trouble with is figuring out what I should say on applications that ask “years of experience”, either overall or for specific technologies. I have never been “employed” as a developer but I have been playing around in my free time (very occasionally though) with programming for 35 years and web development for nearly 10 years. I’ve made at least a couple dozen websites and web apps, sometimes using WP, sometimes from scratch.

Then, a little over a year ago, I decided to stop making it a hobby and started studying it more seriously by doing FCC and tons of other sources like videos, books, etc.

But none of this adds up to “official” experience as a web developer. But surely, all that experience, even if not getting paid for it, isn’t worth nothing. OTOH, I can’t say “10 years” experience with HTML, CSS and JS because they would then think I’m a super-expert because they’d probably assume I mean f/t experience.

So how should I answer when asked about experience? It’s not “10 years” and I don’t want to say “no experience” and the rest kind of feels like lying, which I also don’t want to do.

I think it’s pretty uncommon to list “years of experience” on a resume. Include projects worth mentioning (whether paid or not) and include dates with them. Consider that your timeline.


It’s not really for my resume. More for when I am asked. For example, many times on when applying, they’ll ask that. I’m looking at one right now. “How many years of Front end development experience do you have?” and “How many years of HTML5, CSS3 / SASS, JavaScript, JQuery, and Ajax experience do you have?” Both questions must be answered before the application goes through.

That’s kind of obnoxious.

Hey @GitCoderr,
I think it all depends on which jobs you are applying for. Are these Senior developer jobs? Fresh graduate jobs? Or Junior ones?
Each type of position demands a different amount of experience.
Also, from what you are describing, this is just a a mandatory requirement from the employer on Indeed so they can filter some applications from the thousands they receive.

If your resume is good and you think that you have the necessary experience for the job, this shouldn’t bother you. Once you get a phone call, you can explain your experience in detail, which is part of why the phone call is made.

If the job description says ‘minimum 3 years’ and a webform won’t let you progress further, just write 3 years and move on :slight_smile:

You won’t upset the webform, and any human you want to work for will understand how you’ve calculated it as 3 years given your actual experience in an interview or phone screen.

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I hope you’re talking about the employers and not me. lol

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Of course!    

Mainly jobs that ask for less than 3 years experience. I can count on one hand how many I’ve seen that are ok with no experience, even if they’re titled “junior” or “entry level”. Thanks for the advice.

Solid answer. Thank you.