My wife and I took our open water certification last summer. We went throught a place called Scuba U, it is on the south side at 79th and Harlem. It was close for us , so we went there.
708-599-2630 is the # . Ask for John Mikos....nice guy . As far as advice goes, do you have a money tree out back of your house ? Hahaha....It can be pretty expensive, depending on how deep into you want to get, such as do you want your own equipment? will you rent it after you get certified ? I think we spent around 10 grand on all of our own equipment. So we never have to rent when we go diving. Just your preference is all. P.A.D.I. is the acronim for Professional Association of Diving Instructors...or
Put Another Dollar In.........
... How much it is going to cost you really depends on you and how crazy you want to get. As you can see we went crazy buying all of the equipment.
It is a great sport and the sites are unbeleivable. There are only a few areas in Chicagoland area to dive for your certification that I know of.... a few Quarrys, or there is always Lake MIchigan. Your instructor will help you with that. We are headed to Hawaii in Dec to go diving, so the vacation trips are always planned with diving in view. Diving is endless, you can get certified in so many areas, but you start with your open water certification and go up from there. There is wreck diving, buoyancy diving, photography divng, deep diving, wall diving, get the picture ?
And you get certified in each one of those classifications, so it looks pretty impressive when you open up your log book and all of your cards are in there
But whatever dive shop you end up at, make sure that they are PADI certified... it means they have gone through extensive training to get to be instructors. Anyway, I hope I have answered a few of your questions..have fun ! It is a whole nother world down there, waiting to be discovered. If you have any other questions dont hesitate to post or PM me.