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Does Cobol still pay?

By matt.osborn ·
A recent article in Computerworld noted that many companies still rely on mainframes and rely Cobol programmers to keep these running. Can Cobol skills still command top dollar?

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Does for Me!

by ibmpro99 In reply to Does Cobol still pay?

Up until yesterday I have been one of those unemployed dot com victims in the Boston area furiously looking for work.

The company I used to work for abandoned a $12 million J2EE project and laid off 37 developers at the end of 2001. There are a lot of java folks looking for work and not much new hiring going on, despite the number of jobs advertized.

In my case, I had 20+ years of COBOL CICS development experience and accepted a great position yesterday with comparable salary and benefits. Obviously my wife is estatic!

The ironic part of this story is that I couldn't find a mainframe position 3 years ago. It was back then I decided to lean some new skills (VB, ASP, SQL, Java, etc) and eventually found my previous position as a tech writer and web master. I enjoy developing web based apps.

Regarding the future - I will continue learning by working with the new technology on the side, especially ASP.NET, which looks promising. In my opinion, browser based interfaces to legacy systems is a good choice for very large database driven applications in the banking and insurance industries, state governments, etc. I feel that any web based skills I can learn will come in very handy down the road.

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just curious

by matt.osborn In reply to Does for Me!

have you found any projects where you can use both you web/java skills and your COBOL? for example, working on the web front end for a mainframe application

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Multiple skills are an asset

by M.M. In reply to just curious

Yes, Where I work, the typical Java programmer integrates with the Mainframe back-end and supplies the user with a web interface. There are developers that only have 1 skill set (either COBOL or Java), but they're limited in what they're asked to do.

I've also noticed in my experience, that the Java programmers who hava a COBOL background tend to have better knowledge of business needs, better utilize standards and do a generally better job at documentation.

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Ditto on the COBOL

by Net G. Mogul In reply to Does for Me!

Let's put this in perspective -- I'm no web lightweight.

My portfolio includes fully-integrated XML-based aplications with highly-complex XSL translations, server-side web development on various platforms, several national web development awards,etc, etc.

When you get down to it, I'm a software guy who's solid with the web, and focused on business process.

Career-wise, the largest value is in knowledge of business process. And -- like it or not -- many enterprise business processes today are enforced using that dinosaur language we all love to hate... COBOL.

Now when COBOL and the web intermingle on projects -- now that's interesting, fun, and occuring more and more often.

Web developers everywhere -- I hope you know legacy systems. I hope you know COBOL. :-)


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Truer words...

by Central Texas Fogey In reply to Ditto on the COBOL

...were never spoken! I started my career in 1978 with mainframes and COBOL. However, about 1985 I went deep into minis and micros with Pascal, dBase, etc. What a shock it was when I interviewed for my current job and was asked, "Do you know COBOL?". I replied, "Yes, but I haven't used it since 1985." Their response? "That's OK, it hasn't changed."

Is COBOL a dinosaur? Yes. Can it be cumbersome and klunky? Yes. Can any other language do what it does more efficiently and effectively? No. That's why it's still in such wide use, especially in the financial world. Most (if not all) ATM transactions are COBOL/CICS.

The company I work for does the vast majority of its development in COBOL on the PC. The main thing that I can say about it is that it works. Every time. All the time. The data files don't crash. The exact same code can run on Windows, DOS, UNIX, Linux, and just about any other PC OS out there.

Folks, don't sell yourselves and your careers short. Learn COBOL. It'll do wonders for your financial life!

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COBOL lives

by bryant00 In reply to Does Cobol still pay?

After graduating college May of 2000, everyone thought I was nuts for taking a job at a large insurance company to program in COBOL. Well, after the dot-com crash, and seeing recent grads have trouble finding tech jobs, I may have had the last laugh. The company I work for holds two rigoruous training classes a year in COBOL for new hires, with an avg. class size of 16. The project I was working on had 95% of new development in COBOL and DB2-COBOL. I did manage to get my hands in the ASP front end which called DB2-COBOL stored procedures.
COBOL is still an essential tool for large financial institutions, and based on the fact that my company and the other insurance companies in town are hiring young COBOL programmers, it's not goinganywhere for awhile.

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Cobol will be around for a while

by jockgk In reply to COBOL lives

I started my career Pre the IBM 360 launch as a binary programer to us assembler was a high level language until the advent of Cobol 64, then came CICS, IMS/DB2 etc. From 1965 to the latter part of
the 80's Cobol was the main stream development language for industry in general, unless a revolution occurs, (such as Punch card to Disk drive), Cobol will be with us for a long period yet. So Cobol programers don't under sell your skills, and budding programers it is still a language worth learning.

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Ifno on COBOL Script Product

by ibmpro99 In reply to Does Cobol still pay?

I found this link in a discussion forum that was making fun of us COBOL folks:

The product is inexpensive and looks very interesting.

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You betcha!!

by dpcacker In reply to Does Cobol still pay?

Believe it or not, most larger universities are still teaching COBOL to students. I am not sure if it because "it's easier than JAVA to learn", or if someone realizes that the herd of mainframe programmers will soon be put to pasture, at their choosing. Retirement is looming closer, and looking good. We have had some programmers retire, then come back as consultants, and do the same job, in the same area of responsibility. Consultant pay?? That too!!

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Does Cobol still pay?

by studio10webmaster In reply to Does Cobol still pay?

I've been in the industry since 1963, and as long
as there are computers, there will still be a need for us "Old Salts" of the lost languages of computers.

When I first met Grace Hopper in 1965 during a training class on cobol programming, she was asked the same question. Her response was the same as mine.

It's a fact Jack! Cobol programmers saved the day 01-01-2000 and they will continue to do so.

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