Does anybody out there still use COBOL? I know COBOL very well.

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).

Hi Hiroshe. Thank you for your quick and thoughtful response. I have learned some HTML and CSS. I also know a bit of JavaScript. But I am wondering where are all the supposedly high-paying COBOL jobs?

I am currently volunteering at VTS. I am between jobs.

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.

Javascript is a general purpose language, but when someone learns it with HTML and CSS, I feel it's taught in a more "ad-hoc" manner as opposed to learning a language for general purpose programming, and adapting it for whaever you need. (aka, most a lot of web developers know a "bit" and can copy and paste code). Again, I'm not saying learning javascript in an ad-hoc way for web development is a bad thing, but the approch taken would probably not prepare you for what you'd expect for a more general purpose application.

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 had to re-write a tool at my former employer (Nokia) that was written in the former (abominable) style - a mish-mosh of intewoven PHP, HTML, and JavaScript code with some complex CSS thrown in for formatting. You could not debug it. I took the good parts and embedded them into real PHP classes and methods. The result ran faster, could be debugged, and was a LOT easier to modify (which I had to do to meet new requirements).

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).