If you have to choose between formal project management education or real-world experience, go with the education. The reason is that having formal training will put you ahead of others in the hiring process. It will also allow you to enjoy greater success.
Where to Start Your Education
The first course you should take is a Fundamentals of Project Management course. This will get you off to a great start in learning the lifecycle of projects from start to finish. Courses like the ones offered by Bay3000 have the benefit of teaching you the PMI® best practices covered in the PMBOK® Guide.
The second course you should take is the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) Exam preparation course. This allows you to pass the PMI® CAPM exam and receive a recognized credential right away!
Ways to Get More Experience
Volunteer at work, school, and non-profit organizations you may not even belong to yet
As you learn, apply the concepts that you learned in training
Follow or shadow a good project manager and even offer to help
Once you have gained sufficient experience, you can qualify to write the PMP® Exam.