Let’s Talk Numbers!
Programming is one of those fields that is great because your skills can be such that you can find plenty of work without a degree. From an employer’s standpoint, it can be a lot easier to see if someone has the ability to code or not than other skill sets which might take more time to really prove. Many programmers looking for jobs will usually have to pass a ‘test’ of sorts to get a position. Tests usually involve looking at code and make some certain changes or fixes OR programming something simple from scratch.
Also, consider working independently as a contractor. Depending on how hard you are willing to work, you could make as much money as you wanted. You set your own hours and your own rate. Granted you will not be able to charge out the nose unless your portfolio can justify it. However, of the programmers that I know, the ones that work for themselves make the most money.