The pay sucks, but it is much more enjoyable work than web development. There's a lot less BS to deal with.
I really can't tell whether an entry-level systems programmer gets paid better than an entry-level web programmer. But it seems to me that in web programming, you hit a wall at about ten years, where more experience quits translating into more pay. In embedded, you can find at least some jobs where 30 years experience gets you more pay than 20 years experience.