There are no jobs left that will allow you to coast along on a minimal education. The days of joining your father, uncles and older brothers in the fields or the coal mines right out of high school have all but come to an end. With the exception of the few family owned businesses that are left in the country, there is no longer any sure bets for your employment future.
Getting an education can mean the difference between an okay job and a good one; continuing to remain educated can equal keeping your job or moving up rather than getting squeezed out if there is downsizing in the industry. Simply getting an education is not enough any longer, you have to keep advancing your knowledge, keeping one step ahead of the competition at all times.
An education within your chosen profession does not necessarily mean a college setting and a degree: it can simply be refresher or retraining courses as new, better ways are discovered to do routine procedures. Nurses must have a certain number of continuing education credits each year to maintain their license- the same is basically true for most companies and industries nationwide.
My aunt worked in a factory for about a year. During her time there, she moved up from one position to another about three times, each time she was sent for further training, receiving a certificate each time. When she applied for a new job, she brought all of the certificates with her on her interview and was hired on the spot. She did not have more than a high school diploma, but she did have training pertinent to the position she had applied for. Because they would not have to train her on things she already knew, hiring my aunt would save the company both time and money- and everyone likes that.
If you would like to move up within the company that you are working in, and think that a college degree would help in that quest, talk over your goals with the Human Resources Manager. Some companies offer tuition reimbursement- and some will even offer other incentives to not only go back to school, but to do well once you get there.
I worked for a company that offered full tuition, child care benefits and travel expenses for people who were residents of one of the counties that they served. The only restriction was the degree program that could be enrolled in, it had to be one that would be beneficial to the company and industry.
Not all companies offer such a beneficial program, nor do all welcome the idea of their employees getting an education. Some positions may be deemed menial or humiliating and the fear would be that once an employee gets an education they will no longer want to do these jobs. That may not be such an irrational fear after all, most people do not seek a degree to hold onto jobs that they despise. The goal when seeking a degree is usually a better paying job, one that fulfills not only your wallet, but your spirit as well.