There are lots of opinions here, all of which come from one side of the fence. "... comes in handy ..." may be important to you. How about from the customer's viewpoint? How highly do they think of your work? What levels of customers do you want? ... need? The customer doesn't really care if the degree "comes in handy." I have often used the statement, "A shovel and dump truck, makes not a landscaper." The statement is used when seeing the work of a "landscaper," who is the shovel & dump truck guy. I don't do installs, walls, or applications. I do the menial stuff. But, I do watch the work of those who call themselves landscapers. I know the background of some of them. The ones who own a degree, know horticulture, and work at their trade aside from the shovel and dump truck are the ones whose work stands out. Most "landscapers" around here are the shovel & dump truck type. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. But, they did a job, and got paid, and I have to give them credit for exerting the effort. They don't know plants, they don't know maintenance, they don't know textures, they don't know colors, they don't know layout, they don't know ( ... ). It is obvious from the outcome. Some of my mowing customers used the shovel & dump truck "landscaper." After a couple of years, many (most?) plantings are dead. On the other hand, some of my customers have landscaping layouts that reflect design, good plant selection, great organization, as well as longevity in the plant materials. The differences are obvious. Perhaps I have a more sensitive eye than most because of history in my educational background. Can you learn some of the important parts of design, plant selection, and installation through experience. Perhaps, in part -- certainly the latter two. The same is true for those building walls and other hardscapes. I've seen some real hack jobs by the shovel & dump truck guys -- perhaps the characterization should be "Bobcat & dump truck." Again, there is more than one part -- design and execution of the plan. Rather than plant selection, the selection shifts to textures, sizes, and other hardscape materials that are appropriate for the job. Just being a skilled craftsman does not qualify one to be a good designer. Experience can be very important, as many posts above aptly mention. The question: Is the experience a growth pattern, or the initial skill set repeated many times over? Having 20 years of experience may mean having a great foundation, and continuing to build and grow. Or, 20 years may mean one year of work, repeated 20 times at the same level.