Qualifications and Skills
The best thing about choosing to become a writer, is the fact that you actually don't need any qualifications at all. Think of it this way, if you've spent the past ten years teaching English in Japan, you are (potentially) more valuable to a client that requires articles about life in Japan, than someone with a postgraduate degree in Journalism who has never even been to Japan. Skills, knowledge and experience are far more important to an Editor. Plus, it is also a great deal easier to write about what you know, than look everything up on Wikipedia and "hope for the best!"
That isn't to say, of course, that having a degree in English, Creative Writing or Journalism won't help you, because they'll certainly make you look more competent. And, you also have to remember that just because someone has spent ten years teaching English in Japan, doesn't necessarily mean that they are good writers!
If you are wanting to work within the medium of newspapers or magazines, you are far more likely to be taken on if you have some type of journalism qualifications, but even if you don't, there are still ways of getting your foot in the door, as long as you are willing to really work for it.
In other words, if you enjoy writing and feel passionate enough to try and get yourself out there, then just go for it, no matter where you are in life, or even where you've been!
This pretty much depends on the type of writing that you interested in getting involved with.
On one side of the Writing spectrum are the confident, extroverts who have excellent communication skills and absolutely love meeting new people. These personality types are probably going to be happy in the journalism side of the business; potentially interviewing lots of people, networking, making contacts, asking random question in the middle of Oxford Street all in the name of Vox Pops (or opinions to the unknowing).
Far away, on the other side of the Writing spectrum are the shy, quiet, introverts who prefer the company of their own minds and books than having to deal with real-life people more than is absolutely necessary! These people are less likely to be seen running around chasing people for interviews, but quietly hidden behind laptops obsessively writing web content, blogs and articles probably from the comfort of their own homes.
Places to Start
Write a blog, preferably in a specialist area that interests you. Think of something that will be interesting to other people too. You love your dog's shenanigans, but, well the rest of the world might not. Well, unless he's called Lassie and has a tendency for rescuing small children from wells of course!
Got a Saturday shop at your local book store. You'll be earning a little extra pocket money, mixing with similar-minded people, and getting more valuable experience than you would believe. It's also amazing how many people that walk through the doors of book stores, that will trigger a story or article without even speaking.
Consider doing a work placement during school vacations, either for the local paper or even a publishing house. Anything in the creative industry could be an incredible learning experience for you.
Most importantly, get writing. You can't be a writer unless you actually write something. Make sure that you write as much as you physically can, because the more words flow, the more experience you'll have at producing ground-breaking content that Editors will be falling over each other to commission.
Qualifications and Skills