You can do it either way, it just depends on how much time you have. I changed my career when I was 30, so I already had a lot of basic experience and knowledge from being a photographer, designer, and video nut. I spend a year READING every website I could find, and finally got to the point where I needed the gear. I attended the Maine Media Workshops, and then entered the industry. It took about 3 years, and cost less than a degree.
There is no right way do it, so make your own path!