Personally, I never aspired to play in a symphony orchestra and not because I didn't like the music. I just wanted to be more versatile, and my odds of being good enough weren't that high. Further, the cost of living in NYC wouldn't make the ratio of earnings much better than where I now am or want to be. Generally, IMO, in towns that host a symphony, the cost of living is higher and personal space smaller.
For sure, if you aspire to play with any renown band or orchestra the pathway is paved more durably by study in one or more universities or conservatories than it would be with any single teacher that I know of.