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2nd career accountant

Hey everyone, I'm looking for some general advice. I'm a career changer and want to begin a career in accounting. I am a little bit older (33 years old when I graduate), I will have my Accounting degree in December of 2016 and will only need one more class after that to become CPA eligible, which I plan to begin in 2017.

I had a couple of questions as well…

How common or uncommon is it to see associates in their early 30's?

What type of firms should I focus on when seeking employment ( Big 4 vs Regional)?

After 3-5 years in public accounting, what opportunities are typically available for someone who has worked in Audit?

I work full time in my current career. Is it necessary to intern at a firm first before being considered for full time employment? I know that it would be extremely helpful, but I would also be giving up my job.

I would appreciate any and all advice. Thanks in advance!