In the past, many people were lucky enough to find the career they wanted as they were bringing home a full-time paycheck. They might have started out working in a small office, and their duties expanded as the company grew. Others went to work for larger companies, but they managed to find their own special niche over the years. The modern workplace has become very competitive, so it is not almost mandatory for workers of any age to have a formal career education in their field.
While it might seem ridiculous to have a degree for almost any employment, companies have found that workers who have the discipline to make it through a degree program after the mandatory schooling required by law make better employees. They believe that on-the-job training is still important, but the ability to earn a degree shows them a potential worker is disciplined and ambitious. They want them to have that edge even if they have worked in a particular field for years, so getting a degree has become mandatory for even older workers who will retire soon.