Is there a market for COBOL developers?

16 Jul

In a word, YES!

Allow me to repeat some statistics I’ve quoted in other posts…

Over 70% of all business systems around the world still run on COBOL.  This includes credit card transactions, ATMs, ticket purchasing systems, retail systems, banking systems, payroll systems, telephone/cell phone systems, inventory systems, government systems, legal systems, healthcare systems, airline systems, insurance systems, security systems, and traffic light systems.   The language supports over 30 billion transactions daily, and the average American still unknowingly interacts with a COBOL program at least 12 times a day.  Globally, there are more than 1.5 million COBOL developers, but that number is steadily dwindling as veteran COBOL developers reach retirement age.  There are over 250 billion lines of COBOL code in production today, much of it running mission-critical 24/7 applications.  About 5 billion new lines of COBOL code are being added to these systems annually.  What makes these facts even more incredible is that in the ever-changing world of IT, COBOL has remained the dominant force for over 50 years. While that same time frame has witnessed the introduction and demise of many languages, COBOL has persevered.

Despite these facts, few universities teach COBOL today, even though both MicroFocus and IBM have offered free courseware and technology as an incentive.   The result?    The market is currently flooded with developers proficient in the latest technologies, while the demand for COBOL developers continues to rise.

So why are you hesitant to invest the time in learning COBOL?   Are you afraid of “legacy code”?    In my dictionary, “legacy” means “proven”.   When COBOL does the job with tremendous speed and accuracy, businesses are very reluctant to replace it with unproven technology.   The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind here.  50+ years of proven success is hard to argue with.   So don’t be afraid.    Learning COBOL could become very lucrative for you in the future, as the demand for COBOL developers increases.  A simple Google search reveals thousands of potential COBOL positions nationwide, while businesses struggle to hire experienced COBOL developers.   Yes indeed, COBOL is a good thing to know.


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