The next big step in my "photography career" was the purchase of a Canon AE-1. Man, what a camera! I must have shot 1,000 rolls (or more) in that camera. It was used to shot many of the pictures in my high school newspaper. It was also used for LOTS of attempts at artistic photography.
In 1982, I moved to Hawaii and joined the sales force of the largest camera store on Oahu. While there, I turned semi-professional (meaning I sold a few dozen pictures to tourists and locals)... and upgraded to a Canon A-1 (which I still have today, 2005). Shortly thereafter, I added a Vivitar Series One 70-210mm lens and a larger strobe. The Canon A-1 was my best and last 35mm camera.
The A-1 was my camera of choice as Photo Editor of my college newspaper; semi-pro work in Hawaii and hobby photography throughout the 1980s & into the early 1990s.