Where in the World is COBOL?

Original photo, Edited to add text

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time” is a quote by Hannah Arendt, a famous political philosopher and Holocaust survivor. It is about the joy of moving to an unfamiliar country, out of your comfort zone.

In the process of demystifying COBOL, it’s good to recognize that the language is still in use in several different countries in the world.  COBOL is far from becoming obsolete, as was predicted 30, or even 40, years ago and can open up the possibility of travel for an experienced COBOL programmer.

Main Countries Using COBOL

In fact, Enlyft (2022) collected data on 28,906 companies that use COBOL. While they did find that the majority of these companies are in the United States and the United Kingdom, there is a COBOL presence in India, Canada, France, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Australia and Germany.

Finding a COBOL Job in Each Country

What if you’re a COBOL developer and you’re thinking about working in one of these countries, doing something that you’ve perhaps been doing for many years? I decided to do my own research on a potential answer to that question.  With a few simple LinkedIn (employment online service) searches for “COBOL Programmer” jobs in each country, I came up with the following results: 3,183 jobs in the United States; 188 jobs in the United Kingdom; 609 jobs in India; 241 jobs in Canada; 132 jobs in France; 582 jobs in Brazil; 23 jobs in Italy; 43 jobs in Spain; 68 jobs in Australia; and 100 jobs in Germany. There certainly seems to be no shortage of COBOL jobs available worldwide.

Getting a Job in a Foreign Country

To carry my research even further, Indeed (a worldwide employment website) has published an article, How to Get a Job in Another Country. It describes the following steps in the process: determine the type of job you want; decide what country you want to work in; find a job you’re interested in; apply for a visa or work permit; localize your resume and apply for the job. If you’re already a veteran COBOL programmer, it’s just a matter of picking your country of choice and following the process.


Amid all the talk of modernization and the negativity surrounding legacy COBOL systems, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and feel like there is no future in a COBOL programming career. As you can see, with years of experience in COBOL, you could easily find available jobs in a foreign country where you may be interested in living and working. A move like that is not as out of reach as it may seem. If you have been leaning in that direction, I hope that this discussion has given you food for thought.


Author: Donna Jennings

I have a BA and a BComm, as well as a Diploma in Programming. I have been a COBOL system designer and coder for over 25 years, and I am still trying to demystify the language for myself...I Love the culture of COBOL and how it has provided so many people, including myself, with a lifelong livelihood. The opinions in my posts are completely my own, based on my many years of experience working in a COBOL development environment.

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