Just from my personal experience of trying to move from jewelry as a
hobby, to jewelry as a career. Read and watch as many books and
videos as you can. Interact with as many craftsmen that will be
willing to do so.
Something very important I learned, that hard way and after way to
many years of self teaching was to that I thought I was doing well
based on the kind words of friends and family. None of which, in my
case, had any clue about making jewelry.
Then, I had a jeweler offer to help me, but that turned out to be
more me doing stuff he didn't want to, like fixing the roof of his
building and running around for parts. Never getting any real bench
experience, and even lost some costly tools to this person. Anyway, I
finally someone who had the resources, real skills, and the real want
to help, offered me help. In the last couple months I not only
learned many of the things I had learned myself, were, not so much as
wrong, but not very effective and didn't have the best outcome. Which
in this trade it where the final judgment comes. The finished
product, as well as the time to get to the finish.
Friends and family will almost always tell you its wonderful, they
really are a great source of encouragement, but sometimes, at least
for me, it encouraged more of what I was doing wrong. So now, I am
working on Un-learning, and with the help of a couple of skilled
bench jewelers, and as always, the great crowd here on Orchid, I am
not only learning a better way, but, I am learning it faster and with
more confidence than ever before. I know I have SO much more to
learn, and will never ever know it all, but one thing I have learned
is that finding someone who is knowledgeable, caring, and who wants
to help others learn the trade, is better than all the books and
videos in the world. Just don't let someone use you no matter who
desperate you are to learn the trade. You wont learn it, and you only
add more problems and pressure to an already hectic life. This is
my personal experience. And I hope it helps a little.
Oh, Id just like to say that If I could have gone to a quality
jewelry trade school, I surly would have. But I couldn't, so I have
no right to comment on that avenue at all. Im sure there are many
here that can enlighten you about schools though.