I grew up surrounded by my dad's high-end stuff 'suffering' with his hand me down separates as he upgraded instead of getting the one-piece stereos with the cool lights and meters I wanted. By the time I was 14 I realized the error of my ways and began to appreciate the stuff. Got into car audio at 16 and actually remain there to some degree although I haven't upgraded in awhile.
I worked summers at Best Buy through college thinking I could buy at cost. Never really bought any audio as my tastes were above what they sold though. Meanwhile I got in pretty good with a local dealer who generally took me to CES.
After I got my Architectural Engineering degree I went to work for a design firm in Saint Louis. That 14 year stint encompassed Power, Lighting, Fire Alarm, IT, AV, NurseCall design as well as being national CAD manager and software developer. It was a 700 person firm with 14 worldwide offices so the biggest perk was the travel and being able to sit down with Autodesk each year and discuss the future of their products.
Last year I jumped ship and went to work for Cignal Systems which is a small (coming for a 700 person firm to 10 people) AV systems integrator for commercial buildings, theaters and production studios. Our sister company Logic Systems does live sound for national and local acts so I get to play with some really cool professional gear in the shop.
I'm the only CAD guy and programmer now but am still part of the AutoCAD beta team. They call me "the Engineer" around here because these are all life long audio guys who got here from the music business. They come at everything from a practical perspective and I come at it from a theoretical. It's a great compliment and huge learning experience for me.