So, I returned to night school, graduated at the top 5% of the entire state University class of about 7000 students, was invited to go to Medical School, when all I really wanted was a degree. Although I work in technology, that degree and the effort I placed into it taught me a few life lessons:
1) I can do what I am determined to do
2) It turns out, with effort, I am a lot smarter than I had been told all my life
3) The hard-headed determination to succeed is what makes a difference in life
4) When you do things not for the reason because it is expected of you, but for yourself, you can achieve
5) That piece of paper added millions of dollars in income potential that was not previously available to me
It's true that there are outliers in every scenario where a billionaire drops out, creates something super-successful and never gets a degree. However, for every billionaire, there are tens of millions who do not advance in life or achieve their dreams. They struggle and do not learn to excel, perhaps even becoming stuck in a rut of endless cycles of boom, bust or employment and un or under-employment.
Honestly would advise seeking an education when you are actually ready to make that commitment to yourself. If you are just going through the motions, you don't value the effort enough to achieve great things. My first outing in college was roughly a 3.0/4.0 range, but when I returned, it was a 3.9/4.0 because I wanted it. Honestly, the degree isn't in my field of work at all, but I learned to value what I do and to put myself into the work. That will deliver more success than you can foresee. Being genuine will make your choices true to you and people appreciate that when working with people.
Chuck recommends the following next steps:
Similarly, some careers may require a degree as you move through the career, but where you start doesn't have to. For example, you might start as an internal IT role, based on a certificate you get from Cisco or Microsoft or Google. Then you get curious about cybersecurity or AI/ML - and your company pays for a degree so you can advance in those fields.
Or you might join a digital health company as an care team member (call center work), and you find you're getting really interested in how much better the processes you work with could be. So you go to school for a certificate or degree in operations management / project management. And maybe your employer pays for it.
To answer your question - it depends. If you want to go into hospitality / food service, you can rise all the way to the top without a degree (although after you get to a hotel or dining room manager level, it might start to be a useful differentiator). If you want to get into transportation management, you might be able to start as a delivery driver (short or long haul) without a degree. If you want to be in marketing (advertising, copy writing, brand management), at least a 2 year degree would probably help you get started. And obviously if you want to be a software engineer, you'll need some kind of credential, although maybe not a degree.
Sorry I can't be more specific - really depends on what areas you're curious about joining.
Ceil recommends the following next steps: