To be the captain of a starship, an officer must usually undergo years of training. Only the valuable experience gained from years in the field can leave a commanding officer ready to be responsible for the lives of their crew.
Though there are command training programs, this does not guarantee the rank of captain. Nor, it seems, is the rank of captain exclusive to those who have won the most battles or made the most first contacts with alien species. The rank of captain can be held in various fields, an example of which being Captain Montgomery Scott, promoted while placed in command of the engineering department on the USS Excelsior.
While many of the captains on this list have commanded a certain ship named Enterprise, they are not the only ships in the fleet. The names here are listed in chronological order, beginning before the founding of the Federation and leading up to the current incarnation of Starfleet.
The wealth of experience listed here has come, not simply from the actions seen on screen, but from details of further exploits across other media. Star Trek has a wealth of apocrypha to its name, allowing for a deeper understanding of the years both before and after we meet the stars of the shows.
Writer. Reader. Podcast Host. I'm Seán, I live in Ireland and I'm the poster child for dangerous obsessions with Star Trek. Check out my weekly podcast on all things....well all things film! https://anchor.fm/sean-ferrick