Salary Survey Extra: Who sits in our captain’s chair?

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

You always wanted to know who's better, right?Suppose, for a moment, that we are stepping back in time to Sept. 8, 1966. Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the United States, with about 18 months having gone by since Martin Luther King Jr. led marchers from Selma, Ala., to the steps of the state capitol in Montgomery. A gallon of milk costs $0.99 and loaf of bread is a quarter. A commuter heading home from work can fill up a car with a 15-gallon gas tank for just $4.80. The Beatles are “more popular than Jesus” — at least according to a recent interview with John Lennon — but not quite more popular, at least in the Philippines, than First Lady Imelda Marcos. (Angry mobs, no kidding, chased the Fab Four out of the country after their dramatically publicized snub of the beloved female figurehead in July.)

Why Sept. 8, you may be asking? Because at 8:30 p.m., we’re going to sit down and watch a television premiere destined to be dismissed in showbiz daily Variety as “an incredible and dreary mess of confusion and complexities.” Not to worry: It may sound like something that will surely be cancelled before the end of the month, but we’re fairly certain that even visitors from 2015 will recognize at least the name of this new broadcast debacle: Star Trek.

Back in the present day, it’s been nearly 50 years since Kirk, Spock and the gang beamed up to the nation’s television sets, and many of the original crew members (most recently Leonard Nimoy) have passed on to the undiscovered country. (See what we did there? That particular phrase first appeared in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it also became the title of the sixth Star Trek feature film.) The Star Trek phenomenon has lived long, prospered greatly, and spawned many a capable successor to William Shatner’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

It’s one of the great debates in pop culture, actually. Who’s the best Star Trek commander? Most often, the choice is between Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which means that Americans (who gave Star Trek to the rest of the world, after all) are forced to decide between a Canadian who played an charismatic Iowa farmboy (William Shatner) and a Brit who played a stoic Frenchie (Patrick Stewart). There wasn’t a 100 percent all-American Star Trek commander until 1993, when Avery Brooks appeared on the scene as Benjamin Sisko with the debut of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Sisko was followed by the first female Star Trek commander, Captain Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew) of Star Trek: Voyager, who eventually gave way to Scott Bakula’s Captain Jonathan Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Which brings us, sort of, back to IT certification — yes, you’re still on CertMag.com (assuming, of course, that you’re still reading at all). Earlier this year, while preparing to unleash our Linux-themed Salary Survey PLUS on an unsuspecting IT public, we decided that our surveys have tended to be a little dry, and could use some livening up. Not only that, but what good is it tapping the wisdom and life experience of several hundred IT pros if you’re only going to ask them how much money they make, or whether they’d rather read a book or watch a video when studying up for certification?

So we tasked the IT hive mind with something larger, and more significant. We asked you to help us solve some of life’s most perplexing questions. Not stuff like, “Where did I come from,” or, “What happens to us when we die?” Nah, we decided to really make an impact with this thing. And the very first question to appear on our survey — after the usual stuff like, “How many of these IT certifications do you hold?” — was this: The Best Star Trek Commander is (which of the following)?

We shared this data briefly already, but in case you missed it, yeah, it’s Picard. Really. According to almost exactly three out of every 10 Linux professionals, the Next Generation captain is the leader of the Trek. Does that surprise you? It kind of surprised all of us. The complete breakdown is as follows:

You always wanted to know who's better, right?Star Trek commander: Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Command: USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
On television: Star Trek: The Next Generation (7 seasons, 176 episodes)
In film: Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis
Offscreen alter ego: Patrick Stewart, Tom Hardy (sort of)
Notable Nemeses: The Borg, Q, Wesley Crusher
Known for: Fond of stiff drink (“Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”) and a smooth uniform tunic, likes to mess around in the holodeck, often confused with Professor X
Preferred by: 30.7 percent of survey respondents

You always wanted to know who's better, right?Star Trek commander: Capt. (later Admiral) James Tiberius Kirk
Command: USS Enterprise NCC-1701
On television: Star Trek (3 seasons, 79 episodes)
In film: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: The Search for Spock, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: The Final Frontier, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness
Offscreen alter ego: William Shatner, Chris Pine
Notable Nemeses: Klingons, Khan, Romulans, Walter Koenig and George Takei
Known for: Fond of dramatic line readings and saving the day, likes to mess around with the status quo, often confused with T.J. Hooker
Preferred by: 15.9 percent of survey respondents

You always wanted to know who's better, right?Star Trek commander: Capt. (later Admiral) Jonathan Archer
Command: Enterprise NX-01
On television: Star Trek: Enterprise (4 seasons, 98 episodes)
In film: N/A
Offscreen alter ego: Scott Bakula
Notable Nemeses: The Cabal, The Xindi, Klingons and Romulans, weak ratings
Known for: Fond of Scouting and getting firsties on all of the intergalactic exploration, likes to mess around with his pet beagle Porthos, often confused with Quantum Leap
Preferred by: 3.4 percent of survey respondents

You always wanted to know who's better, right?Star Trek commander: Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko
Command: Deep Space Nine
On television: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (7 seasons, 176 episodes)
In film: N/A
Offscreen alter ego: Avery Brooks
Notable Nemeses: Cardassians, The Dominion, that one annoying Ferengi with the even more annoying Ferengi kid
Known for: Fond of reminiscing about baseball and cooking, likes to mess around with his prophetic destiny, often confused with that one guy from Spenser: For Hire
Preferred by: 3.4 percent of survey respondents

You always wanted to know who's better, right?Star Trek commander: Capt. (later Admiral) Kathryn Janeway
Command: USS Voyager
On television: Star Trek: Voyager (7 seasons, 172 episodes)
In film: Star Trek: Nemesis
Offscreen alter ego: Kathryn Janeway
Notable Nemeses: The Delta Quadrant, the Borg, many weird and hitherto unknown alien menaces
Known for: Fond of keeping peace among a divided crew and businesslike updo hairstyles, likes to mess around with the Q Continuum, often confused with the Russian inmate on Orange is the New Black
Preferred by: 1.1 percent of survey respondents

Wait, that doesn’t add up …

Yes, there were a few other answer options:

Huh? (21.6 percent) — Laugh it up, wiseguys.
Star Trek is for nerds (13.6 percent) — So you may have heard what they say about the kettle and the pot …
Why aren’t Han and Luke on your list? (6.8 percent) — OK, sometimes we crack ourselves up.
How come there no Klingon choices? (4.6 percent) — Because if you let the Klingons in, then where do you draw the line?

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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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