Wow...read as many of these as I could (about 75% of them), as I'm fascinated by the conversation. I got into this industry as a youngin' and I'm really glad I did. It has provided opportunities to use my natural skill sets and be successful in doing so. I have no issue whatsoever at the concept of being a lifer here. That said....
I don't think it's as simple as good or bad for young people. If they have dreams of making millions billions, then it probably isn't the right spot compared to the tech sector. But the big companies are recruiting right out of college and competition is SO high. If you're a talented programmer, you will no doubt be able to get a job, but whether you are able to put those talents to use in a high level position within the ranks of well known companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. is an entirely different story. Startups are the way to fame here, but even then, your chances are extremely small.
Now let's compare that to the security industry. Everywhere I've seen, there is a true hunger for talent in this industry. I constantly hear about the need for just about every type of position -- sales, technical, support, etc. These jobs may not pay the same out of the gate, but in such a relatively small industry (big market, small industry where you always have a job but you're just between companies), there is always room for the talented to rise in the ranks. But how is this accomplished?
First, I'd recommend to any young person that's new to or considering the industry to take it seriously. A vast skill set is required to really succeed. A common mistake I see is that too many focus just on their role and not on the big picture, but if you want to become invaluable, grow your understanding across all positions. We all see it everyday -- a salesperson who used to be a tech brings a level of understanding that can be extremely valuable. Managers who understand both sales and operations are much more effective. Every role can benefit greatly from becoming highly efficient with regard to network architecture (every layer). Leadership skills in general need to be encouraged and cultivated for everyone. Understanding how to create / follow business plans and determine market strategies is always necessary for growth. I could go on an on, but the key is this -- regardless of where you start or where you are (sales, tech, support, etc.), take the time and put in the effort to learn it all. That's a good start...
As you learn it, practice it. Prove that you can contribute across the board and show that you're a leader (true leadership doesn't require you to have people working for you...it proves that you should). Make an effort to understand the business as a whole -- corporate risk, financial goals, 3, 5, 10 year plans. Learn the job you want before you get there and you'll find opportunity coming to you rather than seeking it out.
I could obviously say a lot more -- it's a great topic -- but all in all, I feel that there is significant opportunity for those with the willingness to learn and invest in themselves. The rewards outside the security industry might be higher, but your chances of succeeding are pretty high IF you're willing to put in the time and work...and it doesn't hurt to have some God-given talent along with it.
And while there are ups and downs, as in any industry, I've found that the need for talent has always existed here. I guess you could say that he security industry is pretty secure, as those ups and downs aren't as dynamic as they are in other industries, like real estate.
Simply said, I love this industry and the opportunity it provides, even for the average folks just starting out. Like anything, though, nothing will just come easily. If you're willing to make the effort, your chances for success are relatively high compared to almost any other market I've seen.