I started as a web designer, eventually became a an actuarial systems developer, and then a data analyst/developer for one of the larget web sites in the world. A degree hasn't limited me at all.
Having said that, I've struggled with this question my whole life and now at age 30 I'm in school and pursuing a degree. I finally realized I don't need one, but I really want one. Just because its always been something I want. Why? I can't deny that I apply a certain amount of credibility to a degree and I want that.
One thing that really helps a candidates stand out is something that supplements their resume, such as a well written blog. Being able to show sucess in your career and an ability to articulate what you know is a pretty killer combo.
While I don't participate in other people's projects much I have a BUNCH of projects I've done for myself on github. https://github.com/jcbozonier