I saw very little response to this and a negative response and am disappointed in my supposive fellow GIS professionals.
I've been in the field for 9 years. I've had my frustrations and I've had my triumphs as well. I know you have a background in Computer Science, and I'm thinking we might have different objectives in a GIS career. My focus from day one has been on GIS and business. Business in the sense of how it can help your typical corporation plan, analyze, track, research,... customers, assets, and the like. I've never been interested in development of programs or anything like that. You can call me a very, very, very advanced user, planner, and implementer of GIS vs. a GIS developer.
Anyway, I don't know where the obviously frustrated "I only make 48K" responder is from and what 48K gets them, but I make more than that and live in Oklahoma and am doing quite well. This is even during a year where I've experienced a layoff. I stayed unemployed for all of 2 days before a former (now again present) client tracked me down and I began contract work with them.
But, what I believe has been the key to my success in a GIS career is more than my ability to learn and master any GIS software, understand the hardware, get the importance of good data, the spatial aspects, and so on. That's one thing in itself. What I believe has been the key for me could be key to anyone in any field. That is having cofidence to speak up, present your ideas, make presentations, coordinate directly with clients, etc. You can't sit behind a computer and do a good job and expect to get noticed. Additionally, I have a degree in Geography, an Associates in Business, and working hard on an MBA right now. Education is important to me and all of my former employers and clients to date.
Now info on GIS. Check out American Assoication of Geographers, local colleges/universities for GIS certifcation programs and/or degrees in Geography, giscafe of course, www.gis.com, www.esri.com, www.mapinfo.com, and so many more.
These are the following organizations that I know you might be familiar with where ever you are that I know use GIS, FYI:
Many cities, counties, states across the nation are using GIS. Even many healthcare organizations. Many, many oil & gas companies, pipeline companies, utility companies..... In general, most people don't "get it" as far as I've seen, but when they do, when companies do, they just can't live without it or you if you've done your job and provided them with a successful implementation of GIS.
P.S. At least around here, I don't expect to find a job in the paper that reads, "GIS Person". You've usually got to ferret them out. And usually, it turns out they are looking for more of an IT person. That's where I think you'll benefit by adding at least a GIS certification to your Computer Science.