And while headlines might indicate the language had fallen into disfavor, the amount of COBOL in use continues to grow, with 800 billion lines running in production systems daily, according to a global survey conducted last year by enterprise software firm Micro Focus. COBOL is considered strategic by 92% of survey respondents, and over half said they expect their organizations to keep running their COBOL applications for at least another 10 years.
I feel like COBOL is one of those things that can guarantee you a career. If you know COBOL, you will most likely find a job and have a good career future, but it’s probably not going to be anything sexy or anything that has the (albeit tiny) opportunity of making you filthy rich – but you won’t ever be without a job for long either.
I’ve worked with some of these old school mainframes in the government sector. On the one hand few candidates out of university are learning mainframes, which obviously limits the competition. But on the other hand it’s so niche and mainframe skills are not broadly marketable for typical tech employers. It’s mostly greybeards maintaining existing projects. Some of them have to end up retooling and applying to conventional tech jobs say when the government contracts dry up. The goal of every mainframe contract I’ve worked on was to modernize and gradually transition away from the mainframe. There may be some investing in more cobal, but I honestly think that’s the exception rather than the norm.