I've heard photographers shoot in RAW - do I need to?

This is personal choice, but my recommendation is that you should switch to RAW, but only after you have some basics down. 

My reason for this advice is that you are far more likely to make exposure or white balance mistakes when you are still learning, and both of those are much easier to fix in RAW than in JPEG.  

There is a downside to shooting in RAW, and that is that you have to edit your images a little, but all you need to do is add some contrast, saturation and sharpness to get a similar image that you would get in a JPEG.  

If you don't feel ready to edit your images, don't make the switch yet.  But when you feel you are ready,  you can read more about how to make the transition to shooting in RAW right here. 

Brian Steege