Previous programming experience is a plus. You could probably learn it using free online tutorials, but if those classes are affordable, you might speed through it faster.
For sure either install a server on your PC (WAMP w/ PHP and MySQLi) or subscribe to a shared webhost. You'll need a place to do the scripting and run them.
The shared webhost would be beneficial if you need help and someone like us needs to see the script run, and help you troubleshoot. Your own server would allow you to do everything offline. Maybe do both.