Mainframe and Enterprise career question

So. I am not happy with my job. I'm happier than I've ever been with a job, with my current job, but as far as "working in IT" I am not happy with the job.

I spin a screw driver all day. Specifically an ifixit screwdriver. I can break down and rebuild a Dell Chromebook 11 G1 in about 15 minutes (that includes the time it takes me to get replacement parts from the parts desk). While it is an amazing job (to me) because it's the first job I've ever had where I don't interact with customers in any way shape or form, other than "behaving because a customer is taking a tour of the facility". The job isn't technical enough, and it doesn't pay enough (as if any job ever does right?).

So, I'm looking at how to further my education and move up in the IT world. I currently hold an Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems for Network Security degree, from ECPI. I would tell you that I feel like that degree means that "I know enough to intelligently say that I don't know a fucking thing". I know more than the average user, but compared to most of you I am probably still an average user. Although I am trying to heed the advice of Eli The Computer Guy, specifically "IT is such an enormous field, no one can ever know everything about it. You have to pick where you want to work, and the associated skills for that niche"

I was recently talking to a person who works in our "special projects" division. I have no idea what they do, other than being told they do "everything". I know they all have a few certifications under their belts, and are for lack of a better term, "power nerds". I described to this person, where I wanted to be in the IT world. Which is

"Working in a room full of servers, keeping them running, not interacting with customers directly, making a good amount of money"

He suggested mainframe work, and told me to look into the IBM z/OS systems specifically. I did a cursory google search on the subject, and found an article saying that mainframe personnel are going to be in high demand, as people are going to start retiring soon and most of the IT crowd are ignoring this niche, meaning anyone who does go into it, is going to probably get paid very well.

During my cursory search, I read that I should learn programming languages like Cobol and Assembler, but I'm also seeing that IBM has set up a number of rather expensive courses themselves, that don't appear to come with a degree or a certification, so I'm not sure how "worthwhile" they are.

Basically, I'm asking for a general opinion. I want something that pays well, and has decent "job security". I also want a clear plan of action of how to get into said job position/niche. I'm unsure as to whether or not I should take classes in Cobol and Assembler first, or take the IBM z/OS environment classes first. I've had classes in Linux, Windows Server 2012, C (including precursory classes in pseudo code and what not), Cisco terminal stuff (terminals for network hardware) etc. I know about enough to work on at a tier 1 help desk level (the first level of people you get when you call tech support, basic information, but still more than the average user)

Any and all advice and opinions welcome. I would greatly appreciate @wendell's thoughts on the mainframe niche of the enterprise world, however I realize he is a busy man. I did think maybe it would be cool of him to do a video on the Tek Enterprise channel, along the lines of "how to get into the enterprise world" etc.

Seriously, any and all advice, opinions, shared experiences welcome.

Edit: This is the article I read if anyone is interested. It is old mind you.

I would be careful of trying to fill a niche market there is not a lot of space for growth and movement. On top of that at a certain point it becomes cheaper to rewrite the old systems than maintain it unless you have a multi-billion dollar particle accelerator or something attached to it. I would recommend going to cheap or local conferences it gets you contracts. This is really true for security. That how i got my job in a fortune 10 company. I know BSIDES is free. These conference also tend to have one presentation on how to get into the field. I had people offer to review my resume.

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I've been in your shoes before. I was working similar screwdriver-wielding job, except it was with Dell Inspiron 14R N4010 laptops, and my speed was 12 minutes to replace the hard drive (which was located underneath the motherboard without a caddy or easy access plate on the bottom for some forsaken reason). I quit that job on the spot after I found some truth to the shady rumors about the place. I hopped over to an internship at one college and a part-time IT Tech job at another college. That jump started my IT career. At this point, I'm on the path to CIO within 3-5 years with only a 2-year degree and no certs. I guess my point is that there is no one correct way to get into the IT field. Just keep applying for IT jobs, regardless if you fit the requirements. Interview, find out what the company needs, and then start learning what most companies are looking for. In your case, you might benefit from learning a niche system, like IBM z/OS or IBM's other OS'es.

From what I've seen, a lot of banks, hospitals, and the like use IBM OS'es. In my case, we use IBM i, and none of us have professional training on the subject. We have (very expensive) support agreements with several companies that assist us with this one server. I've only met one technician that is actually knowledgeable about IBM i and AS400, and he is close to retirement. He is the one tech in a 4 hour radius. The rest of the support teams are all remote, all with very specific skill sets within IBM i and the software we use. Needless to say, this is in my case, and by no means true for everyone, but it definitely looks like a career for life if you're good at it. According to the IBM tech, he's paid well and loves the work, but he's practically useless for anything other than IBM i and AS400 hardware. So, while it doesn't have the best job outlook, if you can get in, you're set. You can also translate those skills to any corporation that uses IBM's OS'es and such, so you're not completely limited.

Keep in mind that it all boils down to how valuable your skills are. You can have a wide skill set like I do, as I tend to dabble in anything that seems even mildly interesting. You can also go for a focused skill set, like IBM i or similar, which is extremely valuable just because it is rare. My best recommendation is to tinker. Find something interesting, and try to make it work or do something with it. If you find you like it, try to make it into a career. Not all tinkering has to be formal (classes), nor does it all have to be informal (spinning up some old servers in your garage). Just build up your personal experience and knowledge, and it will transfer into your professional experience.

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I'll let you in on a secret. Whatever you do, understand it. Really understand it. Nearly everyone you will encounter in your career won't bother with the level of effort required to really understand something and get a zen like clarity about it.

It makes it easy to move from job to job and move laterally if you pick the wrong niche.