There is no way anyone in IT makes 250K. Software engineers with advanced degrees in computer science don't even make that kind of money. From my experience as a software engineer (a profession that *usually* tends outpace, in terms of salary, general IT a bit) you simply won't make above 150K tops unless there are extraordinary circumstances involved (e.g. the software engineer who worked for AOL and wrote all their initial proprietary dial-up software using his unique NDIS driver knowledge - forgot his name but he made major $$$).
This topic has come up in the past.
Definitely, it's important to separate IT and software engineering. The random AOL example you cite (regardless of its veracity) most likely would have made his money from AOL stock options. Even call center staff at AOL made more on options than his salary. After all, a good software engineer writes code that lesser programmers can manage.
However, it's also not necessarily the case that software engineers will outdistance IT guys in salary. Somewhere along the line, senior software engineers and senior IT guys become architects, and only when that happens will they tend to see salaries at or above the $150K range, excepting options, stock purchase plans, profit sharing, or bonuses. All of those things can certainly help income get into that stratosphere. Not to mention, consultants who specialize in key IT areas can still make a mint. A friend of mine who's a senior IT guy at a top research university can easily pass that number because his credentials (and the university) permit him to go out on $3000/day consulting gigs to corporations.
Nonetheless, walking out the door of a certificate mill with an MCSE is unlikely to net anyone substantial money. There are likely IT experts on Wall Street and in other financial services companies that make massive amounts of money, maybe even seeing $250K in a year. But they didn't get there because of the MCSE alone. If anything, they've only got the MCSE because it was a requirement. In my estimation, the CCIE is the most prestigious professional certification in IT, and unless you're architecting the largest of backbones, your salary still probably won't break the $150K threshold. During the dot-com boom, I once had a $140K annual salary, which lasted all of one year. That was nice. Millions in stock would've been better.
Picking a profession based on salary is dangerous. You're never going to be happy, and you're going to dread going to work everyday to earn that paycheck. I can't help but wonder if the notions of legal riches that bring so many into the practice isn't also what leads to such great depression in the legal community. I see people here and elsewhere talk about the grueling "60-hour weeks" of biglaw. Somehow, I seriously doubt they're so short. And working 80 to 100 (or more) hours per week, week-after-week is tough. I've done it. And if you don't really enjoy what you're doing (fortunately, I did at the time) it's going to be impossible to ever enjoy the fruits of those labors.
Salary info has to be taken with a grain of salt. You can bet that those $135K+ starting salaries don't go out to people getting paid to sit in their offices looking pretty. Those salaries are paid by client billables, which often comes down to some pretty nagging work.