Both BIL and SIL are federal agents (different divisions), and both were able to stay in the same state that they were born and raised. Neither one will ever likely have to move. However, they are also from a big metro area, where there is demand for them. Both make in the six figures. They are the exception.
DH was one of 50 interviews for ATF, out of tens of thousands of applicants. So, yeah. Getting an actual position with something like ATF, DEA, etc can be difficult. They do tend to post the jobs even if there is a shoe-in for the candidate that they plan to promote within. It’s government and they have a very specific system they follow. It’s all about scoring on the tests, additional points (like veterans preference and any other special qualifications), some politics and lastly the interview.
DH is currently an investigator at a state level, and state candidates are sometimes selected for FBI training. If he ever went for the several months that would be required, we decided that I would not go due to my own career. We would just coordinate weekends together.
I’ll be honest… Every DEA, ATF, ICE, etc. that we know (which is several) seem to hate their jobs. While the federal level is considered the pinnacle of law enforcement, it’s not always all that it’s cracked up to be. There is great job security and benefits. However, aside from a “fancy title”… Pay can be relatively low, it can be demanding and their is slow opportunity for promotion within due to the very competitive nature. As your SO would promote within (if he even gets that lucky), I can guarantee you will be moving. You go wherever you get the job… And to reach one position, you have to be in the one before for so long. For example, to be a Captain, you may have to be a Lt. for at least 5yrs. So, he may get an Lt. position in Iowa, but he better take it and move (despite the modest raise in salary) if he ever wants to be Captain… Because, really, who knows when he will get that offer again. That’s what makes it difficult.
If my DH was looking to plant his roots anywhere in Law Enforcement, I’d much rather him pay his dues as a patrol cop until he can hopefully move through the ranks up to Police Chief over the years, until retirement.