COBOL programmer

Shortly after finishing the undergrad in Physics, I found a programming job offer that did not require any previous experience. In my resumé I did not have much to write apart from my undergrad, and so I sent them an application. In the interview I asked about the specific programming language and I have to recognize I had never heard about COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language). I didn’t have any problem in saying it to my interviewer and she did not have either any problem in offering me the job.

A lot of people start working in COBOL in the same way, receiving usually at the beginning a course that can vary between one week and two months. After that learning period you are assigned to a project. These projects are those that other companies buy and they can consist in developing a new code or maintaining an existing one.

At the beginning, the only thing we do is programming. They told us what program has to be developed or what exactly needs to be modified in a given code. But it’s not difficult to start to do analysis, that is much more fun. It’s about studying the existing programs, to correct them according with the project requests. The promotions are quicker for people with undergrad degree. Even if we are not computer specialists, the physicists get promoted relatively soon. It’s much harder for the co-workers that have a certificate or technical education. The salaries are not very high. In the past, there were not many computer specialists and they were rewarded with good wages. Nowadays there are a lot of people with good computer skills working on this and thus the companies decrease the salaries. In fact, one starts not earning much and usually the best thing you can do to increase your salary is to switch company when you have some experience to offer.


In this kind of jobs it’s very common to find physicists, mathematicians and engineers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the program language in advance. You will learn. Although for a physicist it’s very easy to find a job like this, it must be emphasized that you will not apply any physics knowledge.

A curious thing of these kind of companies is that if I file the resumé of some prospective worker to my company and he is finally hired, then I got a small amount of money. So, if anyone it’s interested in giving it a try, send me your resumé and I’ll be very thankful. My e-mail is

Good luck!


More details if you’re interested in this post:

  • How do you apply for this kind of job?
    Some companies of this kind that I know are INDRA, Sopra, INSA, Capgemini, Tecnocom y EDS. Although sometimes the job offers that appear are for Vipirsa, EDK2, Alba… This is because subcontracting it’s very common. In fact, I’m currently subcontracted: Banco Gallego -> Indra -> Vipirsa.
    There are many other companies of this class.
  • Where can I find more information?
  • Important qualities for job applicants?
    Knowledge about any program language. Languages can also be useful because sometimes the projects are contracted by foreign companies and it can be convenient to know english, portuguese, … but it’s not a requirement.
  • What is the typical salary level (before taxes) in the first 5 years?
    In the range 15-30 K€ / year.