I am a professional graphic designer. I do product packaging/marketing as well as teaching graphic design courses at night at a few local colleges. I would defintily say Adobe creative suite would be the way to go since it is the most widely used set of programs. It is also very important to know how to navagate through corel/pagemaker/QuarkXpress, etc… to incrase your job chances. The programs can be intimidating at first, but with perserverence it will become more easy to use. You will get frustrated, but anytime you find yourself smacking your computer monitor with your keyboard, you can walk away and take a break. lol
You can download a free trial version of photoshop, illustrator, etc… straight off of the Adobe website http://www.adobe.com/downloads/ and click “try”. I believe it runs for about 30-45 days. And if you are a student, or know a student, Adboe offers steep student discounts on their programs.
Edleweiss is correct, just create create and create! Good things to focus on for beginners is proper image quality/resolution and image porportions (never stretch an image to fit, ALWAYS crop the image to fit). As well as typography (VERY IMPORTANT). And the media chosen to view the work (web, print, mobile, etc…) And of course, delivery of the final product. There is a difference between good graphic design, and bad graphic design. Good graphic design communicates a message or feeling wthin a fraction of a second of viewing, whereas bad graphic design is just bad. If it looks bad, re-do it. Don’t be sloppy, tighten up your lines, and don’t sell your work for less than you think you deserve.
Also, to increase job opportunities get into website development. Have a nice matching (brand consistency!) set of resumes business cards portfolios & even a website to showcase your work. You don’t NEED a design degree to land a job. Some employers look solely at how strong your portfolio/experience is.
Also, for example, i’m a “product development manager/graphic designer” at my regular job, and i work in excel spreadsheets all day 🙁 with numbers 🙁 all our product packaging labels have had the same template since i’ve started working here (over 2 years), so there is not very much “creativity” involved. It gets creative when i do my freelance work, or teaching work. But even then, what a client wants is what a client gets, even if you know the design is wrong. If they want a certain font, use that font, or find a way to creatively suggest something different without offending the client.
Oh, and just google what you want for your tutorials, there is a TON of info available on the net.