If you're going to be at an engineering level in IT, I'd say it comes down to what you personally prefer to do. I'm at a technician level in IT, and I'm 70% sure Microsoft will be taking over small consulting businesses like the one I work for in the next 20 years. I love flexibility. I think it's more important than pay, as long as you can afford to live comfortably and take vacations regularly. You really can't lose, as you'll be steering our civilization through mid-century challenges in a meaningful way, regardless of the path you choose. The rest of us will be scrambling for new jobs when ours are taken by automation and large corporations.
Leave it to someone else to answer who had a similar decision to make. I couldn't afford college so I went to a bad tech school, learned nothing, and had to learn everything on the job.