You can become a self-made pro by getting your feet wet in the industry and continually learning and developing your skills.
FIND TRAINING ONLINE:
No amount of school can prepare you for what's next in motion graphics. The basics are easily learned from others who have come before you. There are enough free learning materials online for motion graphics to get you up and running. Look for tutorials from people who are well known and produce great work.
DO YOUR BEST:
Strive to be as good as the people you are learning from. Strive to be better. Look at the motion graphics work of others that is appealing to you and others - openly appreciate it - and learn the steps to produce at those levels. Exceed those levels in your own work.
TOOLS ARE SECONDARY:
After Effects is a good starting tool, and more accessible to the beginner than Nuke at this point in time. But always remember, the tools are not as important as telling the story. Work with what you have access to, and use it to tell a great story. Focus on the message, the communication. The tools are just a means to produce the visuals - focus on what you want to show and don't worry about if your tools allow you to do it or not. There's always a way to show what's needed and you can search for others who've figured it out or develop a way yourself.
Learn on a project to project basis. Don't be afraid to take on projects you don't fully know how to produce. Get yourself to the level of confidence where you can take on jobs you've never done and figure out what it will take to learn and produce an effect.
Never lie to a client about your ability or promise that you'll have something done by a certain time until you KNOW. Just admit you've never done it before - but you know it's possible - and you will figure out the best way to go about it and get back to them on a time you can deliver. If they want someone more experienced, fine. Drop them. Move on. All you can do is be honest and do your best. Chances are, the next designer they find has never done it either, and they are going to be looking for a while. All the really really experienced designers are too busy to help them. :)
YOU WILL NEVER KNOW IT ALL:
New tools are released and improved on almost daily. You constantly need to be looking on a project to project basis for the new and better way of doing things. If you have a better idea of how to do something, check and see if it exists and is being used in the form of software or plugin and learn it and adopt it in your workflow.
IMPROVE. ALWAYS IMPROVE:
Continually improve your skill set with various tool sets and see what others are using to accomplish the work you are doing. Make your own personal projects when you can and try new things. If you discover a great combination of tools to get something done, share it openly with your peers to help them develop their skills too. You will become well known and respected in your field and get more work as a result.
THE KEY INGREDIENT - BE HELPFUL:
Above all, be helpful to customers and peers. Never look down on people starting out or view your peers as competition. They're not out to take your customers. They're your friends and family. You can learn from them and they can learn from you.
I often send extra work to my peers and view several of them as superior to myself in skill. I look up to them and strive to be as good or better. Others ask me for help - which I always do my best to deliver on.
You will truly be a self-made pro motion graphics success when you are at the point of being able to help others with your skills. People need professional motion graphics to communicate their ideas. They need someone who can help them communicate a concept to an audience. Be that person. Make it interesting and keep the audiences attention while brilliantly getting the message across in a way they can totally relate to.
You will be beyond successful when you can (and do) train others to be successful in your craft. People who help others become successful have no choice but to be successful themselves. It's a law of the universe. The more people you can reach and help the more successful you will be. Money is just a measure of how many people you are helping.
Look at anyone who is well known and successful in motion graphics and you'll see this to be a common denominator among them. They are all super helpful.
You can only help a limited number of people with one on one hourly service. This will sustain you for several years and if you are doing a great job, you will make a name for yourself and people will seek you out for jobs and help learning what you do.
With years of experience and knowledge in your craft behind you, also leave the knowledge you obtained in the form of a book or tutorial series to help people following behind you to get to your level. Don't wait till you retire to do this. Do this while you are still producing and share the knowledge of your journey with others. When you stop working, new methods will emerge and your books and videos will become outdated with time. Update the older ones as new methods replace the old.
By writing a book or recording videos you can reach everyone who's looking for your solutions and help more people than you can imagine in your lifetime. And if your books and videos are good, they'll grow in popularity and help others that much more.
So, in summary:
Find Training Online.
Do your best in all your work.
The Tools You Use are Secondary to Telling the Story.
Never Stop Learning and continually improve your skills.
Help your customers, peers and newcomers.
The more people you help, the more successful you'll be. Money is just a measure of how many people you are helping..