I can imagine, with the low cost of reasonable quality digital cameras these days, and with the access to home computers, that an ever increasing amount of new generation shutter snappers will be looking at the possibilities of gaining more photographic knowledge, or at least simply seeking out ideas, on how they can improve their photography, with the likelihood of some even going on to become professionals.
Before you think about running off to TAFE or university, might I suggest that you consider joining your local camera club. You can get some great ideas and tips from like-minded people with similar interests.
A subscription to one of the many popular photographic publications can also provide a myriad of on-going photographic ideas.
By being a member of a camera club, you can be encouraged each month to submit your own work, based on predetermined monthly topics. So you can compare your work with that of other members. Giving you the incentive to improve your skills.
You don't necessarily look at it as competing against your fellow club members, rather, your competing against your own past accomplishments and when you can see that happening, it makes it all worthwhile.
If your club has a library, as it should, you then have the opportunity to study this great pastime and more or less, at your own leisure.
During club outings you can interact with the more experienced senior members, who will no doubt be only too pleased to answer your questions and share with you the knowledge they possess, based on their own photographic skills.As a club member you can compete with other clubs and get involved in national competitions, but be prepared for many disappointments. You just have to accept that as part of the learning process. Like anything else, with a bit of hard work perseverance and determination, you will get there.After you have been a club member for a year or two and you have studied and read up as much as you can on the subject and absorbed as much practical knowledge as possible, you may then be ready to look at what a professional course has to offer. At least you will have already done a lot of the ground work and gained a better idea and understanding of what pleasures and benefits there are to be had with a photographic career.