There are many different ways to get an advanced education.
TRADITIONAL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Junior/Community College: 2 years Associated Degree
University or Private College: 4 years Bachelor Degree
Masters Degrees and PhD(doctorate) will require a Bachelor degree and several more years of college.
In today’s job market, holding only a Bachelor Degree in certain fields may not be enough. It’s common for competitors in certain jobs to hold masters degrees. It used to be a huge deal to earn a Bachelor degree. For some people it’s still a huge undertaking. However, the job market is highly competitive and more people than ever hold Bachelors Degrees. So, to up the ante, people are going further into their college careers and getting Masters (some people will get two or three Masters degrees)
Don’t worry, there are many many people who have gone one to earn good money with only an Associates Degree or training from a Trade School. There is a lot to be said for working your way up the ladder with a company. Your experience is going to be the most valuable asset to an employer than anything!
If going to college the next 10 years isn’t in your cards, then you may want to check out the many trade schools. There are all sorts of technical schools that are teaching valuable skills that are highly marketable to companies. Companies will know that you got tons of hands-on training at a trade school. Trade schools take a considerably shorter time to complete (some only 6-8 months) and they offer assistance in job placement.
Here is a list of common trade school certifications:
IT (computer) Paralegal, Medical Assisting, Veterinarian Assisting, Pharmacy Technician, Automotive Technician, Heating and Air Conditioning Technician, Hair and Make-up Stylist, and many more. However, these schools can be a little pricy because of the intensive hands-on training that you will receive. Most of these schools are accredited, meaning that you will be able to get federally funded student loans.
If you are a Veteran of the Armed Forces, you may qualify for the GI bill which most trade schools qualify.
Here is an awesome site where you can search for trade schools in the US and Canada with hundreds of careers to choose from!