Archaic Cobol language: Evolution or migration?

Created in 1959, Cobol has been an obsolete programming language for about ten years now.

Nevertheless, the Cobol developer continues to intervene in companies to maintain existing applications developed in this language or to make them evolve, either by offering new modules or by creating interfaces.

The Cobol developer is also a consultant who gives a relevant and objective opinion on the interest of migrating to other languages ​​such as Java or C.

Its mission, in this case, is to ensure the conversion of the codes and the migration of the data by resorting to converters or by developing them itself.

Beyond the technical skills to be mastered in programming languages, he must have good interpersonal skills to be able to optimize the development phase (listening, supervision).

Main missions

  • Study the client’s needs
  • Meet the specifications
  • Develop a programming plan
  • Train users on the new application
  • Maintain the existing application and develop it
  • Advise on the advisability of a migration
  • Migrate applications developed in Cobol
  • Possibly supervise a team of developers


  • BTS or DUT in computer science with experience
  • Engineer level Bac +4/5 often required for young graduates

Professional skills

  • Knowledge of Cobol
  • Knowledge of Java and C languages ​​for migrations
  • Mastery of graphic development tools (Acubench, SciTech, Kissanime)


  • Rigor
  • Organization and sense of method
  • Listen
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Taste for teamwork

The starting salary for a Cobol developer is around € 20k. After 2 years of experience, his remuneration will be between 28 and 32 k €. It can reach 40 k € for a very experienced Cobol developer.

development The young developer Cobol does not have the ambition to be a “cobolist” all his life. The natural evolution is to switch to another programming language and become an analyst or even a project manager.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cobol Developers
Are there still a lot of Cobol developers?

It is important to know that the programming language created in 1959 has been obsolete for ten years: we no longer train Cobol developers, we no longer develop new management applications in Cobol.
There are an estimated 1 million Cobol developers in the world today and perhaps 5,000 in France. If an unlabeled Cobol developer had to work on this language during a corporate mission, he could very easily learn it: it remains a computer language with sources of information and rules.

How does a migration go?

Many big companies, banks, insurance companies still have applications programmed in Cobol. They have two options: migrate to web applications or maintain Cobol programs.
Each migration is different: it depends on the characteristics of the departure application and the arrival one. You have to go through two phases: the conversion of the lines of code and the migration of the data. The conversion is ideally done with converters, but failing that, you have to do them yourself or subcontract them to other professionals with the tools and skills.

What do you like about being a developer?

I really like making applications. Basically, it is a creation. To do this, we go through different stages: analyze the customer’s needs, meet the specifications, develop or develop oneself, ensure maintenance.