What kinds of skills do you need for success in community ecology? I think two things are important. First, you should invest the time in learning a programming/statistical language so that you are not constrained by the limitations of existing software. S-Plus (or the free version R) and Delphi are the two languages that I recommend. If you are adept at programming, a lot of research doors will open up for you, and there is no better (or more enjoyable) way to learn about statistics and ecological theory than by programming.
Second, you should invest some time in becoming a taxonomic "expert" in identifying and keying out a taxon that interests you: New England goldenrods, southwestern ground-foraging ants, diatoms from high-elevation streams in the Rockies. Whatever the group is that you fancy, study the morphological keys, correspond with taxonomists, learn how to prepare material, and gain confidence in your identification skills. The basic data of community ecology are collections of individuals that are classified into species (or higher taxa). How can you begin your work as a community ecologist without knowing how to do this? Genetic analysis may also be helpful, but not until you recognize the morphological species first. Both programming and species identification are life-long learning tasks, but they will really pay off in your research and personal satisfaction.