Originally Posted by alunduil
If you're talking about setting up private and public keys for authentication, no, the client does not need privileged access to the server as long as the server is already configured to allow key access. Try copying your public key to the remote box and see if it just works. If you have questions, post back and one of us will help you figure out what's going on.
[I'm assumging that OP has already created a keypair]
The fastest and ealiest way to do this is to use ssh-copy-id.
for instance, if I want to add my public key to the 'florg' account on the machine 'zoof' I would type
I will be prompted for florg's password. From that point forward, I can ssh in to florg@zoof using public key authentication.