I'm just wondering... Do you need a degree to work as a SEO specialist?
That depends on where you plan to work as an SEO specialist. There are many independent SEO consultants without formal training that use past client successes to persuade new clients that their skills are worth paying for. However, there are many companies that require a college degree to obtain a position such as an SEO specialist in their marketing department. Typically, these companies will accept a broad range of college degrees as specific degrees in digital/internet/online marketing are still largely the domain of lower tier online colleges (but these subject areas are becoming more prevalent as specializations at tier one institutions). Check out this article from Forbes on various paths to a career in SEO: Want a Job With Great Work Life Balance?
Are there free services?