This is slightly off-topic in terms of being animation specific, but completely on-topic in terms of speaking about how jobs not attached to a graduate degree are now thought of in the U.S. of A.
When I broke into animation, the "skilled industry veterans" were people highly qualified at the craft. But funny thing. They were men (and sometimes women) who had been working in the business since high school ... or their initial two years of art school. There were not many people running around with Masters or PhDs. They just knew how to draw ... how to paint ... how to design and animate and create their movie art like wizards.