Well, I have been working for the last few months as a professional photographer. It has been an interesting ride and I want to share some of the trues that people don't know about. Warning: These are my own personal experiences and it might be different for others.
Being a photographer is not for everyone, if you enjoy it as a hobby, that's great. However, if you're thinking about doing it as a profession, ask yourself this question "Do I really have the passion to do this everyday of my life?". From the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed, all I think about is photography. I know I sound like a jerk questioning someones passion, but it's the harsh truth.
When being a professional, you have pretty much two options for work; freelancing on your own or work for someone else. If you're going the route of freelancing, it is going to be tough out there competing with people trying to offer the lowest price for a job. Also, establishing a business on your own will be difficult if you have zero financial backing. My advise is to take accounting and business classes. Ejen Chuang, the author of Cosplay in America photography book gave me this advice when I decided to go on this route. I'm glad that I listened to him because photography is not just taking pretty pictures but it is also a business. Hell, I'm going back to college part time to get a degree in accounting and business administration just to have something to fall back on.
Now working for a company is something completely different. It can be good and bad at the same time. The good thing is, you will have a steady paycheck and have the chance to learn from other people. The bad is, any single picture you take during a job, the company will have the copyright, you will be working crazy hours, and you cannot pick your customers. I must have taken over 50,000 pictures at my old job and I do not have ownership of a single one. My work hours were crazy, there were days that I had off and they called me into work. The extra cash was great but working 9 to 15 days in a row and not having any free time was effecting my health. The worst part out of working for someone else is one's job security. As of this post, I'm out of a job because the owner just closed the studio with no warning. It sucks because 15 people including myself woke up to find they lost their job due to an irresponsible douche bag.
For those who are wondering if some of this stuff has turned me away for photography, it hasn't. To be honest, it did the complete opposite and it has fueled my drive to continue it as a career and to achieve my dream to become a photographer for National Geographic. This has been my current experience as a professional photographer, if you have any questions, just ask in a comment below.