The comments are very true and realistic. As an enthusiast electronics engineer, without going through electronics school(i did IT) I some how landed up in embedded electronics.
You can tell you it's a bit of a nightmare to start off with, but the rewards are amazing.
First of all
Determine which embedded platform you want to work in.
I discovered this recently and am actually pretty pleased with Microsoft offering free C# Visual Studio for 32-bit MCU's. The netDuino looks pretty good. I have not had chance to try it but I use Visual Studio everyday and looking at the demo.. this beats any other (FREE, and many paid) IDE out there for embedded. I will try this next.
Atmel, well know for its Arduino amongst beginner electronic enthusiasts with its 8bit 16 MHz chips proves to be a simple way to do nice things with electronics. But the Arduino is very limited if you need to do some modern day things. Fortunately, there are inexpensive chips and dev kits using 32bits.
Also Atmel offers ARM Solutions, used in like smartphones, NAS drives.. some games consoles.
And not be left in the dust.. Also do 8051 Architecture.
Atmel has to be praised for being the best starting point for beginners because it offers thousands of proper examples with documentaion for all their platforms, with a "mature"(arguable by both sides) IDE called Atmel AVR Studio 5 (6 in beta as we speak) .. ALL FOR FREE!!!
There is a massive community supporting Atmel and many other IDE's available with loads of hacks and tutorials all over the interweb!
Ther are ample MCU and SystemOnChip available out there. I have made several PCBs using Texas Instrument CC-2533 2.4 GHz SoC. It is an amazing power packed MCU+Zigbee all in one magical cheap as chips IC. One problem I ran into.. There is not free IDE used to compile firmware for it and the libraries are extremely difficult to understand. The best IDE for this and other 8051 chips is IAR Embedded Workbench - But it's not free (about 4000USD per annum for full blown environment) and the IDE is pretty crap.. but it works with almost all the 8051 out there, included vendor specific debuggers and programmers.
If you learn this, which is by far the most popular.. you can make a very good living out of it!
Some vendors include. Atmel,Freescale, Maxim, National, Renesas, Samsung, STM, Texax
I have never had chance to write for ARM! But I, and all of us reading have used ARM in one way or another, be it a NAS drive, smartphone, or the ever so popular by demand Rapberry PI which runs a customised version of Fedora and also other amazing software like XBMC ARM, however has high level and low level developemnt; By nature, 1 developer will not do both as this can be extremely difficult and usually takes a team of people to get an end product.
Not sure yet.. I have not tried anything else yet.