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The Basic Duties and Responsibilities of COBOL Programmers

Two people are using computers at a desk.

COBOL has survived sixty years of usage, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any less in demand than before. COBOL programmers are still heavily utilized in Information Technology organizations such as government agencies, banks, consultants, and various other business organizations. The ease of use and mobility of COBOL proved itself so useful that it has dominated much of the application development needs for government and business and their processing of data, since the early 1960s. Major federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration rely on large scale applications developed in COBOL. It’s safe to say that the COBOL programming language is everywhere, so it’s rather helpful and informative to understand what COBOL is, what a COBOL programmer does, and how exactly they do their jobs. 

COBOL, which stands for Common, Business-Oriented Language, is a computer programming language that brought about a way for coders to write programs that were transportable among computer-manufacturers. In other words, code written for one computer could run on another even if the computers were from different vendors. 

So, who is a COBOL  Programmer and What Do They Do? 

A COBOL programmer is one who writes and works hands-on with a large-scale computer developing code in COBOL. This is the primary responsibility for all COBOL programmers. They tend to be mostly found in programming in the field of business data processing. 

In addition to constantly working with COBOL, these programmers work to design, develop, and configure codes for new programs. When they create new codes, they test the programs to ensure the proper state of function on the intended operating system. These programmers are also trained to implement any necessary adjustments. Due to the advent of newer languages such as Java and C++, most COBOL programmers work on existing COBOL software that is already in place. A fair portion of COBOL programmers are veterans in this business. Young talents who specialize in COBOL programming are sorely needed by large organizations regardless of where one is domiciled. 

Some of the other common responsibilities that COBOL programmers take up in addition to COBOL programming consists of the following:

  • Developing and maintaining COBOL applications
  • Understanding the transactional requirements of the application 
  • Developing, designing, coding, and testing new changes to enhance software applications 
  • Test COBOL programs to catch errors and apply solutions to the faulty lines of the computer code responsible 
  • Actively utilize code responsibilities, which are collections of independent lines of codes intended to simplify the writing
  • Responsible for technical analysis and design, code and testing coordination
  • Document and file systems and enhance programs that are developed and implemented
  • Gather and document system requirements
  • Fine-tune DB2 SQL queries
  • Define coding standards to ensure and secure code integrity

What Are the Skills and Merit a COBOL Programmer Needs? 

If you’re wondering what it takes to be a COBOL programmer, then we’re more than happy to provide this information. First and foremost, employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or any other related field. Employers also like to see that your coursework is/was encompassed around programming languages, code development, and software development. It is highly recommended that aspiring coders take up internships or part-time jobs during the course of studies to receive hands-on research with COBOL and other programming languages. Since many administrative offices and business organizations rely on, you may want to consider taking administrative courses for additional skills and insight within the computer programming industry. 

Some other further skills that are essential to a COBOL programmer’s career extend to the following: 

  • Excellent oral and written skills as you’ll be working with Information Technology Management and Business Management 
  • An in-depth understanding of project management and the software development paradigm
  • Obtaining a vast amount of knowledge regarding business processes in healthcare, banking, finance, and government sectors 
  • Knowledge of advanced debugging tools

COBOL programmers can also generally benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the following technical skills: 

  • Databases: MS SQL Server, Oracle RDB, and DB2
  • Languages: Java, COBOL, TSO, JCSL, and CICS
  • Platforms/systems: z/OS, Windows, Linux, UNIX, IBM Mainframe
  • Tools: Endevor, Abend-aid, Xpediter, Rational, and Micro Focus 

Apart from intensive technical skills, COBOL programmers are also set to the standard of obtaining soft skills when dealing with their work. The following soft skills include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Concentration
  • Detail-oriented
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Relationship management

All of these skills can take the future generation of COBOL programmers a long way in the programming field. 

Choose Marble Computer Today to Apply COBOL to Your Application Development Environment 

At Marble Computer, Inc., we have a team of professionals that specialize in the migration and maintenance of COBOL for all businesses. Contact us today to learn more about what our COBOL services entail.