Am I doing this right? Any advice for a young typographer?
I do my typography, mostly for web and textile, in Flash. It has some pretty decent anti-aliasing. Not as good as Firefox, but better than what I've seen Photoshop and Illustrator being able to do. Granted, "Export Image" has a tendency to blur things, but if I take screenshots from within Flash and paste them into Photoshop, I get very clean and crisp results. Flash is also very simple. It's very easy to break up the letters (if the kerning is inaccurate, which it often is) and then re-adjust things manually.
Flash, at least in CS3 and lower, is typographically very weak. I would not recommend using it for any other purpose than Flash movies. You have already noted that you need to fix the poor kerning ... wouldn't it be better to use a tool that does not do bad kerning.
I would use Illustrator or InDesign for anything typographic, and then Photoshop, long before looking at Flash.