Have you thought about places to work? Picking a company to work for is a very important step for your career. Finding the right company that has great benefits along with pay is hard thing to come by.
I can tell you from experience! When I started I asked myself these same questions. I started working in family owned automotive shops. After working at several independent shops I realized that it was a good place to get your feet wet. When you first start off your not going to very productive and make the flat rate pay scale all the time. You will most likely spend a little more on a job then what the book calls for. By working an hourly rate at a smaller shop this will give you the ability to learn and experience more hands work. I would say working for a smaller shop to start for an automotive or diesel technician is a smart choice and it just felt like being on some kind of technical school.