Hi Jake and welcome to CF.
You will probably get a whole range of good ideas from boaters who are imparting on you, options that would work
or did work for them.
The important bit is what works for YOU!
What makes you excited and challenged, what makes you happy? Then you will know what education you need to attain to make money doing it.
Unless of course, your a Trust fund baby and then we all know you're already screwed!
Whatever path you take, apply it in earnest and you will succeed. A higher education in any field sharpens your ability to problem solve and communicate when at sea
In my case at your age I was fascinated by the way people think.
So I majored in Psychology and Philosophy, switched to Marine
Biology then ran away to sea both on yachts and commercial
Returned to Vancouver
and went thru marine
college, got all the commercial
licenses and heavy tonnage experiences, but stayed involved in the yacht business because I just love water
sports and teaching others how to do them.
That eventually led to courses in marine architecture and a successful career as Owner's Rep, project
manager and captain
for the design, build and operation of the Top super yachts of this world.
I got to be mentored by some of the worlds most successful businessmen, who had followed their own path with incredible focuss. (My job was to help them relax on their yachts with family
, while taking them on magical mystery tours)
You never stop learning
once you find the right path for the right reasons
Good luck on your journey!