Personally I would choose to go full room but it may become mandatory for everyone. No you do not have a choice whether or not you go to the departure line or south sat line. Currently, they are sending everyone to the south side because they have way too many departure trainees. As for training time, it really depends on how many people are training, what days off you have, experience level, and whatnot.
north satellite is my next certification and then I would do arrivals after that. I'm probably looking at another 2 months before I start north sat. and then at least 4 months to train. It can be hard to get good traffic consistently especially with so many people training on it.
working departures is going well so far for me. I am currently not training because they are letting me season a bit on departures and I'm still waiting for a class date for the next position. There are 6 other people training on the same position so it might be a little while. no hurry i guess.
Well unlike c90 where you have to check out on arrival wall (something like 7 scopes plus 3pms) and either departures or satellites (another 6+ scopes) at sct you on get checked out on one area, and you stay there until you bid to go to a different one... And at that point its exactly like bidding for a different facility.
The lax area, which is the only thing I'm familiar with, isn't as complex as you'd think... Its simply volume... its way easier having to only deal with arrivals than it is at, say C90, where you have to learn about departure routings, vfr towers, vfr a/c, etc. So getting checked out here is quicker, but by no means easier, simply because you don't have to go through 10+ scopes.
LAX Arrivals - Deals only with arrivals into LAX
Del Rey - Deals only with departures out of LAX
Burbank - controls the san fernando valley of los angeles and has the busiest General Aviation airport (van Nuys) and an international airport (Burbank).
Coast - along the coast and 4 (i think) airports
San Diego - SD international, 2 military bases. good mix of traffic
Empire - biggest airspace in the building, lots of vfr traffic.
i work in LAX arrivals and must say... great area to be in. although im biased since its the only one im in. but my thing is i HATE working vfr planes... and arrivals doesnt deal with them at all... all ifr and 99% to lax...
each area has 6(ish) scopes to get checked out on before cpc... way better than C90's 10+ scopes.