When I was a kid I took things apart. (TV’s, stereo’s, etc..) and always managed to put them back together in working condition. One time someone tossed out their reel to reel tape deck where it sat outside in the snow for a couple months before I asked if I could have it. It had a broken logic board to I managed to fix it and used that reel to reel for almost a year before it eventually caught fire.
Later someone tossed out a heathkit with all the parts and I soldered and put the entire computer together myself so this was my first computer.
After not making enough to survive being a musical instrument repairman and piano technician, I got a job at an assembler at a company that made thermometers. Within the first week I was promoted to line lead (most likely because I was about the only english speaking person in the building), and then after about 2-3 months a group of sr. managers came to me on the line and told me they have a problem with my work. I asked why and they told me that I build 26 boards per shift whereas everyone else only builds 15-18 per shift, and the average assembler turns in 12-25% of their boards to the line technician for repair. (sloppy soldering, etc..). They told me that I never turn boards into the line technician so I must be letting bad boards get out to production. I then explained that I fix them myself and showed them how I did it. They all left, came back an hour later and asked me to be a technician for a new line of talking thermometers. Later, they started a new engineering department and asked all the line techs to apply for the new lead engineering tech. I did not feel qualified so I did not apply. The new engineering manager came up to me and asked me to apply and I did and got the position. While doing this work I drew hundreds of schematic drawings and started printed circuit board design. From here I went to Ampex where I checked printed circuit board designs. They allowed me to come in on my own time to learn computers and I started on the original IBM PC, HP, Vax and Sun Computers. I then took all of Apple’s training at the time in able to do warranty repair on Apple products and I started getting certifications from many other vendors including Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer, Datastor, HP, Compact, Novell, Cisco, Microsoft, Esri and several others.