How can I learn how to use wordpress without paying a hosting company? I dont want to actually put my files on a live website yet, anyways- I just want to use wordpress to learn it, since so many clients are asking for that now. I have a wordpress site hosted by bluehost, but I dont want to touch/ change that site right now. Is there a way to use my dashboard there for working on a separate site?
No you set up a localhost
No you set up a localhost server, not sure how you have developed without one Research / google localhost servers, test servers, xampp, or check through the WP codex, pretty sure there's information there as well, and the codex must become your daily reading as it is a comprehensive resource for developing WP sites, which you'll need if you want to become a WP developer.
Wordpress without paying a hosting company?
Different strokes for different folks. Some people are so comfortable writing in a self hosted blog because of much flexibility in using plugins and freedom to express what you want, without having to worry about TOS.
On the other hand, some bloggers are okay with wp.com or Blogger to house their ideas. I guess that boils down to what you really want to get out of blogging. If you are blogging more for passion then a free hosted blog is more appropriate, otherwise, a self hosted site/blog will do if you are after making money out of it.