I suspect that some beekeepers have 30+ years experience, and others have been doing the same thing every year for 30+ years. Hands on experience is vital, yet one is liable to reinvent the wheel. For me, access to journals and to courses is the fastest way to tap into the wisdom of others and of the past (read Langstroth's book over the holidays, published in 1850's and quite marvellous) and thus to hasten my understanding of what I'm seeing in the hives. The Master Beekeeper course is the ultimate challenge, at leas for me. It exposes me to things I may not witness first hand in my hives, and offers alternative solutions that I may not have considered. The girls seem to appreciate it - they hate it when they suffer because of my ignorance and stupidity, both of which I have in spades.
I spent a few days with a state bee inspector last year and the overwhelming impression is that the MAJORITY of beekeepers should not be let within a mile of a hive. And those are the one who are registered with the state!