I've been working in the "private sector" since my late teens. I've gathered good web-development experience to be able to find work quite easily thankfully. I was never really interested in getting a degree, I only have a high-school diploma. I was passionate enough to study for myself and learn new things from colleagues and friends.
Web-development is still my passion, however recently I've been thinking about the actual work that I've been producing over the years for the companies I've worked for. It seems as though that even if the work is fun and challenging, I still get very little recognition for it: once the work is produced, my name is barely ever mentioned. I've been asking myself if all these things I'm building are really going to change someone's life.
Then I look at academia and research. Here people are doing things they actually love and study those subjects deeply with passion and generate new knowledge to help others within a specific field.
Has anybody ever switched from an industry job to an academic job? I'm wondering if it's possible to do research without a degree. What suggestions might you have for someone in my situation that wants to get a glimpse of the life of an academic where you can build and study something you actually love and not always do what "the company" wants.