Sam, you gotta look at a bunch of things, which your school counsellors had better know and be able to help you with - if they are earning their salary.
- what are you goals in life, besides “have a good job”? (why)
- what do you like to do? (enjoyment)
- what CAN you do? (apptitude)
- what careers are a good match for all of the above? (career tests can indicate how similar your abilities and interests are to people in different fields)
- what careers are going to be of some marketable value for the next decade (beyond that is pointless to speculate)?
- and evenually, what specialty is your best bet to meet the above?
Avail yourself of all the career counselling you can! Information is available that gives estimates for different fields, careers, jobs, specialities, by area and job market size and pay, etc, etc. The only problem is, what you see at first tends to be very general. You will have to dig to find out the real story. “Computer jobs are big, great to go into!” Well, some are, some aren’t.
Computer hardware? Well, System Administrator used to be very important, widespread and lucrative. Not any more. Only the big companies have that job, and a very complex one it is. Most “hardware” jobs these days is swapping cards and reinstalling Windows at Best Buy or worse. Are there descent hardware jobs? Sure, but I bet it’s mostly Electrical Engineers only. Probably in Japan or China designing computer boards, etc. And then it gets made in China. Are there other possibilities? Sure, but how many of them? Are you good enough to get them? Maybe.
Software has become a much narrower and smaller field over the last decade, between outsourcing and off-the-shelf packages. Despite working in the field for the last 20 years, I couldn’t begin to give advice to anyone starting out any more. I’m not the project manager type (which is where the only real local demand is, currently) and don’t even know where I’m going career-wise over the next 10 years. Probably just trying to hang on while the early boomers retire and trying to pick up enough new stuff to be still employable, breadth of experience, rather than just a code-monkey. And maybe learning stuff like 3D Of course, the big animation studios outsource stuff to the far-east already…
I can’t see the trend to outsoucing overseas as reversing in any short term, for example. It’s just so much cheaper. Maybe in 10 years it will have equalized, or maybe India will be subcontracting outsourcing to Africa with OLPC-trained kids.
Even a lot of university these days is concerned more with training for a particular job as opposed to “an education” because people can’t afford an education debt and no job at the end. Part of the reason I went to a technical college instead, but nowadays, companies want a degree as WELL as the technical training.
Eh. Good luck! And get some counselling, but remember to take it with a grain of salt. They may know more than you, but they can’t see the future any better.
The best thing is to do something you love and are good at. Enthusiasm goes a long way.