What is your goal with electronics?
The most import question that you need to answer is the following: what is your goal when it comes to learning electronics? The two distinct paths which come to mind are in order to build a career out of it or in order to start building your own projects as a hobby. Based on your answer, you will have a different path to choose. Note that there are also different steps in each one of those paths. A career can start at a lab technician and go as far as a design engineer or engineering manager. Similarly, your hobby can go as far as learning Arduino and playing with electronics to learning how to fully re-wire your house and troubleshoot any appliance.
The importance of electronics hands on experience
You can watch multiple tutorials and read countless books. Until you start exposing yourself to building actual projects, you will not get the full experience. What you often see in a video or blog tutorial, took the creator 10x longer to figure out. They’ve encountered problems ranging from breadboard rail malfunction to issues with the signals and programming in order to get there. By going through a full project, no matter how simple or difficult it may seem now, you expose yourself to different scenarios. Once you find a solution to a problem you’ve encountered, it will only take you minutes to solve it again. Also, it will give you a better perspective on how to troubleshoot problems which you did not anticipate in your build.
If you haven’t already, purchase a starter kit and make sure to start building your first project. Don’t assume that you will learn by watching.
Which platform to choose
The best advice I can give you is to go with the platform which makes you excited to learn electronics. Do some research and choose between Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone or the LaunchPad. If you feel very adventurous or up for a challenge, you can get an FPGA board, a processor board or even an IC on a breadboard. That being said, the community and documentation of the platform should play a big role in your selection process. What I mean by that, is that the amount of information and support available will help you overcome problems. Thus, for an absolute beginner, I would highly recommend the Arduino. It has a lot of guides, tutorials and people willing to help if you get stuck. It is true that it provides a lot of obstruction from a real micro-controller, but you can always get that experience afterwards.
Note: you may choose to purchase a complete kit or buy components separately. One offers the convenience of having everything in one place and the other may save you some money if you’re willing to put in the research.
Starting a career in electronics
A career in electronics requires you to have theoretical knowledge of circuits. My suggestion is that you should purchase a book which covers electronics concepts from top to bottom and start going through it at your own pace. There are many areas of electronics which you may choose to specialize in such as analog, digital, rf, power, telecommunications and more. That being said, it is generally a good idea to have a base in every area.
Making use of online resources
The mistake beginners often make is relying on their own knowledge entirely. Chance are, some one has overcome the problem you are facing right now. Chance are, some one has built the same project. My advice for you is to learn to utilize online resources as much as possible. Give yourself some time to solve the problem, but don’t be afraid to look online or ask some one. The DIY community is always there to help you with your project. Make sure to introduce yourself and take advantage of their knowledge.
If you haven’t already, start working on a project. If you want to pursue a career, make sure to learn the theory of electronics. Don’t get stuck and discouraged. It happens to everyone, but some one has been there before! They can help.