Salary Survey Extra: Set a course for 2019

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Suppose you had a time machine that could only take you back to the year 2019.There are doubtless people who would contend that 2021 hasn’t actually been all that much of an improvement on 2020 — more just a continuation of it, really. Especially for those in the United States, it could be argued that the worst of 2020 spilled over into the new year, culminating with rioters storming the U.S. capitol building on Jan. 6.

On the other hand, 2020 was a pretty epic perfect storm of political turmoil, natural disasters, social unrest, and the worst pandemic to seize the world in its grip since the onset of the 1918 influenza. All that came on the heels of various upheavals and calamities in 2019, which served up its fair share of anxiety-inducing tumult.

Really, though, if we’re comparing hard years, then it’s hardly worth asking the question: 2020 takes the cake. The year before and the year after are barely in the running. And yet, 2019 seemed plenty awful in its own way at the time, and it also sowed the seeds of the catastrophe that came to define 2020 and is still shaping 2021: COVID-19.

Since we just started our fourth paragraph and we aren’t really talking about IT certification, many of you have probably already sniffed something. And yes, you’re right, this is another report from the Not So Serious section that we stick at the end of the Salary Survey each year. Just for fun, we gave survey respondents a time machine and sent them back … 12 months.

Yeah, we invented time travel, but we stuck some pretty shallow parameters on it. At any rate, the oh-so-tantalizing proposition was this: You have a time machine that can only take you back to 2019. Which of the following disasters do you go back and fix? There’s an obvious answer, or at least what we thought at the time would be an obvious answer. See what you think.

Here’s what we learned:

Q — If I had a time machine that could only take me back to 2019, the one thing I would definitely do is:

Get to Wuhan in December and contain the spread of COVID-19. — 48.7 percent
Set a course for Washington, D.C. in September to — wait, the impeachment thing dragged on all the way until February 2020?! — 4.6 percent
Head to France in April to avert the destruction by fire of much of Notre-Dame de Paris. — 14.2 percent
Go to the Amazon rainforest in January and prevent the outbreak of disastrous wildfires. — 17.3 percent
Travel to Hollywood and fix the ending of “Game of Thrones” on HBO. — 15.2 percent

There’s an obvious answer, right? Except that, for more than half of the certified IT professionals who responded to this question, there was not. Maybe that’s what we get for putting this question is a section of the Salary Survey blatantly labeled “Not So Serious.” Or maybe the pandemic didn’t actually loom as large for some as for others.

We’re stuck in the United States — not an expression many of us here probably ever thought we’d be called upon to use in any context — but the Salary Survey is global. Some places in the world were substantially harder hit by COVID-19 than the United States, but many others were not. Maybe the pandemic just seemed worse to us here than to people in other places.

At any rate, slightly fewer than half of survey respondents would have used their limited capacity for time travel to avert the outbreak of COVID-19. After that there’s kind of a three-way tie, with sidestepping the disastrous Amazon rainforest fire — the top concern for 17.3 percent of those surveyed — edging ahead of two other fire-related disasters.

A solid 15.2 percent of respondents apparently watched Season 8 of Game of Thrones go up in flames (both figuratively and literally) and have been eager to set things to rights ever since, while the blaze that engulfed (but did not destroy) Notre-Dame de Paris lingered oppressively in the minds 14.2 percent of those surveyed.

There’s nothing fire-related about the fifth dramatic development from 2019, which clearly felt like the least consequential variation from the appointed (or at least preferred) order of things: Donald Trump’s first (or “only,” at that time) impeachment trial. Only 4.6 percent of respondents would have felt compelled to rewrite the outcome or outbreak of that minor fracas.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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