If your plans are to work at home as an employee, usually the company will require and furnish their expander program, so I wouldn't buy one until you have secured a job. If you get work as an independent contractor, they still might furnish the expander or you might have to buy it, but they will probably have a specfic program that they would require you to use.
As far as beginning lists, I am assuming you mean terminology to remember? When I started way back when I had a notebook where each page was a letter of the alphabet and I put unfamiliar terms under the proper letter. You could do the same thing but make it a word processing document and you could use the "find" feature to quickly locate it.
Hope that helps--good luck!