I know for IT you don't really need to head into the university route, you usually can pay for an exam you sit for and bam you are microsoft certified or have your CCNA cert. There is probably similar short cuts in the area you want to get into it just comes down to research.
Also as what others have mentioned prior, been well connected with people can get you a job, especially when they can vouch for you when an opening position in their area/work.occurs.
Pretty sure those certifications don't mean shit anymore, and they're just a way to milk money out of large organisations.
With IT if you don't have a degree, you've got to at least demonstrate some self motivation and create your own projects. If anyone is looking to get into development side of IT, maintaining an active github account with a few personal projects helps a shitload.