College Grads Who Know COBOL Earn More
College students who know COBOL make more than their peers when hired after graduation. How much more? On average, new graduates who took COBOL classes, even if COBOL was taken as an elective course, garnered more than ten thousand dollars in annual salary earnings than their fellow tech industry graduates.
How is this possible? Dr. Leon Kappelman, a professor of information technology at the University of North Texas, has the answer. Kappelman points to the simplicity of supply versus demand.
“There are simply not enough people in the profession who have these skills and skill scarcity drives higher salaries,” said Kappelman.
Kappelman is right. And Gary Beach of the Wall Street Journal agrees. Beach, who cites Kappelman in his own article for WSJ, notes that more than 80 percent of the world’s daily business transactions rely on COBOL, and there simply aren’t enough people who know the trade as current professionals retire and COBOL loses popularity to more trendy, fresh, and streamlined programming languages. COBOL has also gotten a bad reputation as “out-of-date, not attractive, complex, and expensive” by critics.
The downturning trend in the amount of jobs involving COBOL has also been a discouraging factor for college students to learn the language, but Kappelman noted that even if graduates don’t go on to take positions directly related to COBOL, they still are attractive hires because the knowledge of COBOL adds an extra dimension to the company's collective tech arsenal. Simply put, knowing COBOL can make you a more desirable hire over someone who doesn’t know the program.
“Who better to convert legacy COBOL applications to more modern technologies than a technologist who understands both technologies?” asks Kappelman.
But COBOL can’t be around forever, can it? Scott Colvey of The Guardian explains the future of COBOL as well as it can possibly be said. In 2009, he is quoted in an article explaining that COBOL isn’t going anywhere.
“Cobol is to business what the internal-combustion engine is to motoring: it's been around for so long, and is installed in so many places, with so much supporting infrastructure, that doing something different - even if the end result could be better - would be impossibly costly.”
Whether you are a new graduate, still in school, or a veteran of the industry, knowing COBOL might be your ticket to cashing in and standing out.