As an engineer I know nothing about a career path for a pilot; still don’t know how you deck guys can stand all that sunshine and fresh air. But if you’re going to make this business your career, think about a maritime academy.
26 years ago I got a job in the oilfield as a deckhand to pay off a student loan for auto body school and to buy some tools. Fell in love with the work, the money (such as it was in 1984) and the time off and I’m still in the industry.
But in the long run, depending on your plans, not having that degree can close off doors to other career paths. I had an assistant once from King’s Point, an excellent man. He eventually got on with Lockheed Martin in a naval shipyard in Puget Sound, a great shoreside job. He wanted me to come there since they had a few other openings. I was interested, but the deal breaker was that being a hawsepiper, I did not have the 4 year degree.
Could I have handled the job? Yes, no problem, but I could not be considered unless I had that piece of paper.
Just something to think about. Good luck!