Degree matters if you want to get work internationally. <--This is the quickest path.
HR and/or Immigration look for academic credentials or national/international awards in your field. Easier to get you across borders and even teaching in universities.
Even if you don't want to work internationally, HR will look at a degree credential to narrow the stack of resumes they have to go through.
Degree also offers internship opportunities. Very valuable. If you can go through an accelerated degree program, I'd recommend that highly.
If you want to be a CEO of a company down the road, a degree is a pre-requisite unless you start the company yourself.
Portfolio will get you on the production, and how you perform will keep you there.