as far as location goes, it may be best to take the course in the same region that you'll be skiing and using these backcountry skills. if you're skiing and hiking in california, then taking the course in utah or washington might not make sense.
gear you'll need: beacon, shovel, and probe. having a touring set up would be ideal and make sense, but not everybody can have a full touring set up along with the necessary equipment for going into the backcountry. having an avalung and an ABS bag are other options, but since you have limited or no backcountry experience, it may not make sense for you to buy those as well until you get serious about.
taking an AVY 1 course is a great way to at least familiarize yourself with dangerous or potentially dangerous terrain, even if you won't be skiing in the backcountry often. the course teaches you good tools about getting into the backcoutnry and gives you some of the potential tools to recognize dangerous terrain and conditions.