I'll give you about the last fifteen years of my life boiled down to what I hope are a few brief paragraphs; there might be some hint of advice in there for you.
I started doing computer repair in the mid-1990s for a small family-owned shop. Computers cost thousands in those days and the repair side of things was good. The custom built computer sales end of the business was tough going. It seemed that we were either out of the "hot" parts people were asking for or had a surplus of stuff that wasn't moving. When you've got ten (original) Pentium CPUs sitting on the shelf that cost you $400 each and nobody is buying them you lose a lot of money in depreciation very quickly.
I moved on to another shop, but by then computer prices had fallen to the point that people were starting to go for replacement rather than repair. Why fix an old K62-300 machine when you could buy an Athlon 1200 system for not much more than the price of a repair job?
I struck out on my own and made a good bit of money doing small service contract type jobs. My specialty was the smaller office with 6-20 computers. Not enough to warrant a full-time IT guy but big enough to be willing to pay for someone to come by for a day or half-day once every week or two and keep things running smoothly. I also did a lot of small-office network jobs where they usually wanted easy things like simply having all the computers able to securely sharing a folder or two, (a lot of them had managed to figure out how to share the whole hard drive, then a virus hit and wiped them all out), or even just getting everyone able to share one or two printers. As people got more computer savvy, there would usually be at least one local "computer expert" in the office who managed to keep things going well enough that they didn't need me so much. Improvements in network setup - mainly by buying a cheap router and turning on NAT - made that almost foolproof, too. My income started to really suffer.
After struggling for a while I bit the bullet and went back to school for a degree in Information Systems. I hope to become one of those "people who make the most money in IT...those with the ability to look at and figure out the big picture. ie.. network and systems analysts..." that richinrockville mentioned. My forum title, "A Senior Junior" refers to my being in my Junior year at the (by college standards) Senior age of 52.
Starting pay for people with the degree I hope to attain is between 60-80 thousand dollars a year depending on where you live. If I live long enough and can still work full-time I can expect to hit six-figures not too far down the road. It'll come in handy for things like walkers, dentures, and hearing aids, I suppose.