Well, first off… Congratulations for serving in our Armed Forces.
You’ve asked a very broad question, so I’ll give you a broad answer first, and my specifics later. The first thing I can tell you is that very few of us have followed any sort of straight line to get to our respective positions today. I’m not getting rich, but neither am I doing badly. The key thing with this is that you have to enjoy this sort of work or it will drive you up the wall.
The key elements are:
– Interest in solving problems
– Helping others
– Making money (notice this is last)
Areas you can work in are constantly changing, but here are some generalizations:
Desktop/End User support
Server management (general)
Network Administration (The actual switches, routers, etc.)
Network Security (my field)
Computer Security (partly my field)
Web page design
Internet application development (e-business, etc.)
What I’d suggest to anyone is to first learn the basics, and take every opportunity to learn other things – whether or not you thought they applied to your current situation. By this I don’t mean to study everything in depth – you’d drown. But when you encounter something new, learn enough about it to understand where it fits into the overall picture. That way over time, you’ll start seeing the puzzle pieces fit together to form a picture – and from that you’ll start to get an idea of what areas interest you and those that don’t.
By way of example, I got into security because someone else was trying to hide his incompetence by asking folks in other divisions to do his work for him – and the request came back to me by a roundabout route. Just not the sort of thing you can plan on – but can certainly take advantage of.
I’ll post other, more detailed stuff later – right now I’ve got work to do.