Tips... Play as much as you can. Don't waste money on gun upgrades, or cool apparel, just get a solid gun, that could be a used gun from 03/04/05 or something like a Drone/Axe, it doesn't need to be the best, just reliable and a gun that you are comfortable with. Once you have a nice thermal mask, a decent hopper and tank, spend every penny you can on paint and practice.
I personally have been playing for 12 years, so it took me 10 years, a decade of playing before I made it to the pro ranks. It varies for different guys on our team. Some just went pro this year, others have been at it for a few years.
I would say that I worked really hard for about 5 years, practicing every weekend, playing as many local events as possible and a national event here and there. This was when I really built my core skills and fundamentals. Then for about 3 years it was mostly just trying to play big fun events, and weekly practice. But when I have the opportunity, I try to play 3 times a week, with at least one of those days for drills.
What is it like? Fulfilling to have achieved a dream, stressful because it's not a lavish lifestyle. But it's the most fun I've ever had and I look forward to the seasons to come.