Employment in the Software Field
In software a degree is not required to get a job, only raw talent and drive. A degree can help and is recommended. Certifications and code schools are other options, but should not be considered a complete foundation.
Nodes with blue text offer more satisfaction. Nodes in light orange are more 'traditional'. The common career path you hear about the most is a software developer with a bachelor's degree working at a bay area company like Google. However, the vast majority of programmers are not at Google, nor are in the bay area.
Side gigs are critical to getting real world experience, start them as soon as you can! If you can get paid work, offer to volunteer or build an app for a friend's business. Make sure to launch what you build! Also work on side projects to explore your interests and to get your hands on new technology. At your day job, for practical reasons they won't always be using the latest and greatest stuff.
Working for others as an employee is the easiest way to gain experience and figure out where you are most comfortable. Starting a business, or being a self employed freelancer isn't for everyone. Contacting typically pays more more hour than a full time job, but comes with the risk of being a 'short term resource'. You may end up working for a small business, a big corporation that isn't tech centric, or a pure tech company. Each has its pro's and con's. You may also opt to work for a startup which can be grueling but offers a high degree of personal growth.
Roles like software engineer, software developer, etc, can lead to positions in management and even CTO. Soft skills are very important in those roles too. Happy learning!