First post, but have seen some great information while lurking. Here is the situation. I am 35. I dropped out of high school and entered the IT world at age 17. I went back and got my GED at 25 (got tired of lying on applications!). I have always had gainful employment. I work in telecom these days. I had an interesting path getting there. Tech support --> Prov system support --> application prod support --> application tester --> lead tester --> application design engineer/analyst --> finally sitting at high level tech engineer/architect. I have been with my company for over 8 years. I have cultivated good relationships. I earn over 84k a year which is really good for my area and education level. Here is the bad stuff. For the first time ever in my career and life I am overwhelmed. I have tribal knowledge and a very large breadth of our companies systems due to my varied background. I know i contribute in a meaningful way. I am constantly furthering myself with training in relevant areas. I have unique skills in being able to examine issues keeping the entire enterprise and customer in mind. However i want to do more. I am also afraid of having to move on outside of my company as my only worth would be in my experience and personal skills. I have three kids and my job is pretty hectic. So here is the actual ask: Do i grab some paltry degree to say i have one and work on independent telecom training programs? Do i just say forget it and steer my career path toward management to bump my salary and end there (could totally be part of leadership and management soon with a direct path towards directorship in a decade and end up with retirement of lots of plus 100k years). My true love for learning, curiosity and science makes me want to suck it up and go become a true engineer. However i am worried that the toll on my family and debt may not be worth it. It sounds good in theory to go become an engineer, but that is years and years of hard work and sacrifice by me and my family. I do have help in that my company will help pay for my schooling to a certain extent. Really at a crossroads here and not sure. I hope there is someone that has some insight or maybe even someone that has experienced my circumstances that can advise. Thank you so much. Fathomless.