In all honesty, it's mostly to maintain old code. It's a little unusual to hear someone say "I started this new project in COBOL". It's still usefull to companies that would pay to keep their decades old codebase running as opposed to switching to something newer.
If you program in COBOL commercially, the environment you most likely work in doesn't represent good programming practice. Also, the language itself (and most of the code written in the language) doesn't promote good programming practice.
Cobol is worth knowing if you happen to need it for some third party reason (legacy buisiness code). It might even be good as a hobby (though I think the QBasic hobby community is more alive).
I would recommend that you learn something more modern that has more of a community focused on good programming practice, at least so you have an idea of what modern languages are like (even if your job is mainly cobol).
I wouldn't class HTML and CSS as programming languages. Their markup languages used for making webpages. (I'm not saying that HTML and CSS arn't usefull, however their pupose is a lot more focused then a turing complete language). So if you wanted to become a web developer, then these would be usefull to know.
If you want higher paying job's for COBOL, then you'll need to look for a comapany which needs their legacy buisiness software maintained. This is more often then not done through pre-existing networking. The the vast field of programming, I wouldn't say that the market for cobol programmers is big (though they do get paid simular amounts and sometime more then expected when compaired for other fields).
The path you should take is dependant on what you want to do. If you want to make a career out of programming, you'll need to pick up a verity of languages (and you'll learn how to learn a programming language on the spot). You also need to spend time learning programing language-agnostic things like data structures and algortihms. Then you can probably go to a more specialised field (like web development, buisiness programming, scientific computation, etc). If you just want a job, then pick a field you like and learn the language ad-hoc.
If you are considering switching into more current web-based programming, then get up-to-speed on PHP and LAMP. PHP is really a web server based version of C++. If you are going to use it properly, you need to understand well the foundations of OOP (object-oriented programming). A lot of currently written PHP code is an abomination and subject to major sercurity issues. Well-written PHP code is clean, debuggable, and secure. Unfortunately, there are more web sites out there with the former kind of PHP coding... :-(
I just signed up for the Coursers course The Data Scientist's Toolbox. I have been wondering about data science ever since I helped my friend write an R program. She has done about 80 quality of life studies with Johns Hopkins. She used to be a medical professor there.
I have taken statistics 1, statistics 2, quantitative methods, and math classes to get my MBA and BSBA.
I would definitely disagree that COBOL is just to maintain old code. If you go into high-volume, data-intensive shops you'll find mainframes rule the day. Payroll firms, banks, healthcare firms, and others use COBOL quite frequently in their item processing areas.
true, but it's old code being expanded, not new systems being created.
And all too often what you're asked to do is prepare your system for more easy screen scraping so the data can be exposed to some newfangled web based system (or to add a webservice layer on top of it).