I've come a long way from when I first started photography, to working out in the field. I just wanted to share some insight on how to work your way up, like I did.
1. Get involved in the community.
I attended too many events and took photos everywhere with my first DSLR (which was the Nikon D50). Every now and then when I go out in public or something, some people would be like "hey! you're that guy at the BMX race." or something.
2. Education and Connections
I've spent hours at bookstores, libraries, online, attending workshops, etc. learning about photography. Also I can't stress how important a formal internship can be, over the summer I interned at about 3 studios. Don't expect to be on the frontlines on day 1, I started out as the photo organizer, worked my way to up from there.
A good portfolio is KEY. For photographers a portfolio of your work, speaks louder than a resume. Get people to critique your work, talk to people you know, talk to art teachers if you're still in school, a little advice here and there will help a lot! Learn from your mistakes, and mis-takes.
4. Obtain credentials
This is sort of like interning at studios, but if your school has a yearbook program or something, and they need a photographer, go for it! If a parent asks you to document their kid's soccer game, or wedding, whatever it may be. Also don't be afraid to ask for a little payment for your time.
5. Motivation is essential
The field of work here is very competitive, so don't be discouraged, by our equipment, missing the shot, other pros around you etc. Your determination and motivation is what sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. Remember, hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.
Final tip: Always ask questions. You learn more if you ask someone else.
The cameralabs forum is the finest place I have ever seen. This community is full of bright people that can help you out whenever you get stuck.
Keep me posted!