Well....I started out as a Help Desk Monkey myself and am now In global Infrastructure - it's taken a whil eto get there but I can give you a few keys to the kingdom...
First off, never complain about the position you are currently in. When talking to anyone whether inside or outside the company - complaints about your role - devalues your own role therefore it devaules you. To improve your role and to improve the opinions of those around you - only stress the good points of the role and thework you are doing. Also, toot your own horn - if your dealing with difficult probles and you find solutions let it be known YOU did it. Email off the manager and cc: his boss (depending on the type of organization). this will increase your visbility.
Second, look for ways to expand upon your own set of responsibilities. I hate to say it but the people who jump in and start working (not volunteer) are the ones who tendto get lookeda t first in the promotion department. Its shows you have initiative and your willingness to expand upon current sets of responsibilities. You do however, have to make sure you do not neglect your first set of responsibilities and ensure they remain top notch.
Third, Education is always important, however, it really depends on the company and the value they place oneducation beyond the initial hire. An example of this, the current company I work for values your contribution beyond the intial hire and education is only secondary to ability to perform. Performance, experience, and value add are what employers value the most. Any way you can find to stream line or reduce cost to save money (especially to the bottom line)gets you noticed alot faster. I have people who have their masters who I still have to tell how to do their job. But again, Education can never be taken away from you so there is always a value.
Fourth, get diversified. The more diversified your skill set the more valuable you are. If you are getting a masters - get your masters in something other than IT but is complimentary (like some engineering discipline). Gain knowledge in as many programming languages (if you want to program) and / or operating systems as possible. Unless you want to specialize but that limits mobility and pigeon holes you to particular roles. In IT the more diversified you are education and knowledge wise the further you will go and the faster.
Lastly, In even the worst economies the job market is open to those who have the skills and track record of accomplishments to prove it. Keeping notes of projects that save money, increase efficiency, reduce total overall cost, etc...that is what you want toinclude on your resume. Do not emblish and be sure it is verifable in some way. Do not be afraid to search out companies and call them to get your foot into the position you want. Its ok to inquire of companies that do not have direct posting's because some companies do not necessarily list them. But again it is the persistance at which you pursue your endevours that is going to make you attractive to employers.
So like other posters have said, clearly define what you are seeking and begin to expand yourself in those ways. Also, be careful what you ask for because you may just get it - and - that is not always what you think. One last piece of advice - remember money is not everything - find something you love to do and do it exceptionally because when you do - the money will follow.