On whether or not he recommends a formal education
I would recommend a formal education only if school or the course that provides your education will be able to distinguish your CV among others or give to you some additional value, such as a direct link with the world of work after the end of the courses.
Formal training can be useful, not so much for the role of a 3D modeler specifically, but rather to achieve a solid general foundation. If a person does not have an artistic background, then a school could help. It will also teach you how the role of 3D modeler is part of a production line.
On the other hand, you can become a 3D modeler without any courses. Being self-taught is possible but quite difficult, because you have no confrontation with anyone else and you risk losing your enthusiasm. Do research on the internet, watch tons of tutorials on Youtube and spend your time reading manuals and practicing.
Practice, but with a plan in mind
I think exercise is the basis for development of any artistic skill. Start by studying 3D modeling software that can be competitive in the industry. Take the time to consider a few questions: What is your aim? What do you want to do? Be aware that modeling for a video game is very different from modeling for a 3D cartoon or a feature film or that being a character modeler is very different from being a surface modeler.
Learn how to stand out
Schools churn out hundreds of new junior modelers each year and the industry has to absorb this flow. Standing out among this mass becomes increasingly difficult. Pick the most original and interesting reels and watch them carefully. Try to figure out what is the current standard of quality and set it as your goal. Try to achieve this standard and try to overcome it. Remember that companies will watch your reel and you have to attract and keep their attention.
Have a wider view
Modeling is only a part in the production line of a computer graphic piece. As a 3D modeler you need to prove to be able to receive designs from the concept artist, interpret them and take directions. After the modeling step, your piece of art will probably have to be rigged and animated. So you need to know the requirements that a 3D model must have for a good rig and what to ensure correct movements of the geometry in the animation process.
Advice on getting your foot in the door
My first advice is get ready to send your showreel. Put in only pictures you’re sure of, and send it only if it is complete and if it works. Do not be discouraged. It is not easy to get an answer, but if the reel is done well and it works, sooner or later you’ll get positive news.
You can also subscribe to recruiting services. In every country there are specialized recruiting agencies that CG Companies use to find professionals. Subscribe to these agencies; it is free and you just have to send your CV and your reel so that they can keep you in their archives.
Use social networks like Linkedin or Facebook, online forums, web communities, and let people know who you are and what you do. Buy a domain, it’s cheap and easy, and build your website to show your portfolio. It must be a place where people can be familiar with your models and where recruiters can watch and download your reel and your CV. Leave things as simple as possible so that the attention is focused on your models.