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Why Microsoft .NET Jobs for COBOL Mainframe Programmers?

COBOL Mainframe Programmers switching careers have to overcome several challenges including the fear of learning new programming languages.

In addition, cobol programmers have to pick the right programming language which is not an easy task considering the range of possibilities (C#, Java, C/C++, PHP, Python, Visual Basic, Perl, etc.).

Cobol programmers also have to brand their resumes to look like that of modern, object oriented software developers.

Considering these challenges, one is not surprised whenever a cobol programmer decides to stick with legacy programming skills.

That is why I am dedicating this post to helping cobol mainframe programmers transition their skills or careers.

How To Transition Cobol Mainframe Legacy Programming Skills

I will start by answering a question which is at the core of the challenges faced by many cobol programmers.

Here is the question submitted by a cobol mainframe programmer from Stafford, Texas.

I am a Cobol programmer but I have been out of the business for more than 5 years due to layoff.

I have been driving an 18-wheeler for 6 years and I want to get back into programming.

What is the best route to take?

I am planning to take A+ Certification class at Houston Community College in the Summer.

In the meantime, I need to stop driving.

Changing Careers For Mainframe Cobol Programmers

I would advice that you start with learning the Microsoft .NET suite of programming languages.

Learning Microsoft .NET is not a small undertaking, but it currently presents the best career path for modern, object oriented computer programmers.

Learning Microsoft.NET includes learning the following family of programming languages or platforms:

  • .NET Framework


  • C# or Visual Basic .NET ... I recommend C#

  • SQL Server for database Development

I don't recommend that you start with A+ certification because that is taking an in-direct route to a programming career.

That path will take you to a desktop support job and you may actually end up getting lost in that role ... which is okay if that is what you really want!

If you really want to become a computer programmer, then you need to learn Microsoft .NET

Here is why learning Microsoft .NET will be a better option for you:

High Demand For Microsoft.NET Programming Skills

  • There is such a high demand for Microsoft.NET programming skills in the current economy, that you're virtually guaranteed a job, as soon as you're skilled or competent at programming with .NET Framework.

Shorter Training Time For Microsoft.NET

Here is why I advocate that you learn Microsoft.NET instead of Java or C/C++.

It has a shorter learning curve or training time because the language is easier to master and Microsoft provides you with a Rapid Application Development (RAD) environment which allows you to write full-featured applications in a shorter time.

These RAD tools have intelligence built-in which presents you with tips on the programming syntax as you code.

This reduces the challenge of memorizing .NET Framework programming syntax and it also reduces the time it will cost you to create complete, working business applications.

More Career Options for .NET Developers

Becoming a .NET Developer opens up your career to the corporate computer programmer career path.

  1. As a .NET Developer, you have more career options because Microsoft.NET is designed to work with other Microsoft products. This makes your skills more portable and it opens up a bigger programming market for you.

  2. If you're a .NET developer, you may also get a job creating websites or work as a database developer or focus on developing MS Office applications.

  3. You can also work as a windows developer or as a mobile developer.

  4. You can even work on enterprise business applications like Commerce Server, Sharepoint or Reporting Services.

Since you have some previous programming background (even though it was as a cobol programmer) and you are still interested in computer programming, I would advice you to jump into learning .NET Framework immediately and not to waste your time on other pursuits!

Finally I would like to mention that we are running a special discount where you can get trained on both the Microsoft .NET Framework and SQL Server database development.

All you really have to do is, place an order for both the Software Developer Boot Camp and the SQL Boot Camp and this special discount would be applied to you.

Here is what you need to do to be fully enrolled as a Microsoft .NET Framework Developer ... enroll for both the SQL Boot Camp and the Software Developer Boot Camp at the same time using the links below:

  1. Click here to Add the Software Developer Boot Camp

  2. Click here to Add the SQL Boot Camp Training

Once you add both the SQL and Software Developer Boot Camp, you will get the on-going special discount for the Microsoft .NET Software Developer Training Track.

In this post we discussed the challenges facing legacy cobol mainframe programmers and suggested the best path for those interested in changing careers.


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As a cobol programmer trying to transfer to newer technology, I've spent(wasted?) time learning JAVA and HTML and for the last 2 months have been doing ASP.NET.
I began with ASP 2.0, with C#, but then switched to ASP 3.5 with VB and LINQ.
Is version 3.5 widespread or should I have stayed with 2.0?
Also is LINQ worthwhile?, from years of DB2 I already know sql.
I've downloaded Microsoft Web Developer and sqlserver.
Some clients will work with 2.0 and others with 3.5. Since you are starting out, learning 3.5 is good because it encompasses all that 2.0 offers and then the new 3.5 features.
LINQ is a Microsoft centric solution and some jobs will call for it. Having said that, I don't think that not having LINQ on your resume will stop you from getting hired!
Remember that Microsoft puts out a lot of new technologies. However, until a significant time later, the older ones are still valuable and not only that, if you have a lot of knowledge in these topics, not knowing one thing like LINQ or newer 3.5 features will not stop you from getting hired ... considering that developers are in good demand.
Learn what you can now ... put out your resume and get a job and then continue learning ... it is a never ending cycle :-)
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I have more than 12 years continues Experience in Mainframe Applications.
Now i am planning to change my career path.
I am looking in any other software development area.
I heard there is lot of scope in JAVA/J2EE,
Please advise me.
I would not advice JAVA / J2EE seeing that you are starting out and that you have no vested interest in being a Java Developer.
A number of Java / JEE shops are migrating away and embracing .NET Development because Microsoft's Marketing message is finally catching up with them :-)
A number of Java / J2EE Developers are also re-learning .NET Framework for the same reason.
If you are a master in Java/J2EE (7+ years of experience) and you don't want to start from scratch, I may see your point.
But if you are just starting out, I will advice you to stick to .NET Framework, C# and ASP.NET for the near future!
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I have completed my in electronics and communications stream and having an aggregate of 61 and i wanted to know which is the best language eg java, oracle, mainframes to build my career and to get a job.
The best language to start out with is a language that you have not mentioned because it is sometimes ignored in the academic circles but it is the language of the business world:
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I was a Programmer Analyst using COBOL for 12 years.
I then went back to get Microsoft certification in VB.NET, SP.NEt, and SQL Server.
However, I can't get any of the programming jobs out there because they all require at least 3-4 years experience in .NET and nobody is hiring for COBOL.
Is there any way to get the kind of experience I need or is there a different path I should take?
Do Certifications Really Lead To Better Jobs?
The mistake you made is that you placed your bets on certifications even though the #1 requirement for getting a software development job is not certifications but handson experience.
While certifications can help your career, there are several other things that can help your career and then there are things that can significantly boost your career.
#1: Getting an Education in Anything can help your career
#2: An MBA can help your career
#3: A College Degree can help your career
#4: A PHD can help your career
#5: Writing books in your industry can help your career
#6: Giving speeches to professionals in your industry can help your career
#7: Starting a blog focused on your industry can help your career
#8: Getting hands on skills or handson experience in your Industry will significantly boost your career
What you need to do is to get as much handson software development experience as possible ... doing that will significantly boost your career and whether regardless of your certification, it will help you get a job!
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I am looking for Sincere Advice, I have 10+ Years Experience in Mainframe.
Now there are very less Mainframe Jobs i am planning (Desperately looking) to change career in software technology.
Since i like Programming and coding i choose .net (I felt Java is more Difficult for me).
Please advice me how to approach to learn .net.
And how much time it takes (I know this is wrong question , I am looking for rough estimate time in months) if i spend 3 hrs on work day and 5 hrs on week end.
Thank you very much for providing such forum.
If you want to become a Microsoft .NET Software Developer, start with a Curriculum, Lesson Plan or Study Guide that outlines the topics, concepts or skills you have to learn in the right order.
Download the Software Developers Study Guide Here ....
The concepts or topics you will be learning as a software developer are divided into:
1.) .NET Framework
3.) Csharp (C#)
5.) SQL Server Database Design & Development
6.) SQL
Note that the last two technologies involve databases and SQL.
That is because SQL skills are required for software development jobs even though they are logically different
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I worked in mainframes for 10+ years (mainly in the mainframe application maintenance projects, that works mainly with analytical and problem sovling skills than the core technical skills) and 1 year back moved to Quality Management/Manager.
What is the best career path to aim next, Is the Project Managment a better option or going back to mainframes, or learning Oracle or Datawarehouse is good option (I am good at analytical skills, and not looking at more paid but on gaing knowledge,Job security and career growth)
Going back to a mainframe career is not an option.
If you like data analysts, then you may consider becoming a data analyst.
That means that you need to learn a relational database like SQL Server or Oracle because most of the data you will be working with resides in relational databases.
You will also need to have some statistical and data analysis skills as well.
A career is a better option only when it maximizes your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses.
If you like working with data, you may also consider learning a relational database like Sql Server or Oracle and working solely on Database Design, Database Development and SQL Query Writing Projects
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I have been working on AS400 (with COBOL and DB2) for around 4.5 years.
Now I wish to get into system integration or solutioning role (or may be system architect).
But I don't want to limit myself to the legacy technologies project.
Since current market deals a lot with technologies like Java, C, .net etc., I know it won't be easy for me to get into such projects to work in system integration.
Please help me understand the approach I should follow.
I am 42 now and I have 13 yrs Non-IT experience.
My degree is a B.Tech Mechanical and now I have moved to software development with 5.5 yrs experience in Mainframes.
With my age increasing now, how do I survive in the IT industry?