This is my perspective on the matter and doesn't nessesarily pertain to all cell companies. You will not learn much of what a cell tech does in school, most of this is hands on and OJT. Things that you do need to focus on in school are obviously basic electronics, RF principles, algebra, and especially now in this day, you need a little background in IT, routers, T-1's, fiber, cat5e cabling, and a little UNIX and DOS background is helpful.
THe market changes a lot everyday. Overall, with the company I'm with, we run an on call schedule and a normal shift. new guys tend to start out doing mundane tasks such as audits and simple repairs. As you progress and learn from willing senior techs in the field, you will begin taking on harder troubleshooting, provisioning, and possibly commisioning new equipment, but the latter is normall done with contractors to save money. Which by the way is a good way to get your foot in the door, is doing contracting for a while to learn how to build sites but not always nessesary.
Some companies provide vehicles for your use, it's like your personal office, you'll be in it most of the day. On call can be ok, or it can really suck, again depending on your company. It's not uncommon for people in my company to do 100 hours in a week. Whoa! Yes, that is right, that's a busy week in a good size city. We are called out for any issue that has a severity, but at some point you have to stop the madness and get rest. Your radio is great thing, nothing helps pass the long drives better than a good radio station in the truck, some folks have satelite radio at their own cost.
Other companies, especially contractors will make you use your own vehicle, so you better have one that is reliable. You will get stuck in traffic, and you will get stuck in mud, so 4 wheel drive is needed. Of course they re-imberse you for gas after the fact.
Driving can be a lot of short hops, or they can be several hours. Depends on your location. I ehar in some parts, like the Mid west, you may only do 1 job since your area is ridiculously large, where I'm at, this is occasional as the city offers a lot sites needing repair in a closer group.
Depending on your company and how they operate, you may "own" a group of sites and only work on those during a normal shift period and then when you are on call, your area may include all the sites in the market since the other techs are off of work. As with my comapny, we work the entire market on a system which automatically groups our work and attempts to get us home on time based on drive time and work time. nothing is perfect.
Pay is normally good, but experience plays the part in what a company will offer to you. You're going to rack up OT like crazy with some companies so if your base salary is 42k, you could easily pull 60k a year or more. Depends on how much of a social life you want, after the 1st year or 2, you will be worn out and driving long distances is not going to tickle your fancy so you will try to cherish your days off and weekends. Anyways, good luck. At times it isn''t all that great, not much interaction with co workers or the manager face to face, but it almost feels like being your own boss at times and as long as you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, not much in the way of having someone on your back.