Going Legacy … A Geezer Geek Option

St. Grace Hopper, inventor of COBOL“Change or Die” is a common aphorism in the Information Technology Industry, however the truth is that some people did not change and they did not die. In fact, they make a wack of money maintaining legacy systems. I gleaned into this reality at a garage sale recently. A guy my age (late 40’s) was selling his late mom’s stuff, and I asked what he did. He replied “I’m a PLC programmer”. I scanned my memory banks and came up empty. “Logic controllers for industrial applications in super-markets and factories,” he replied. He smiled and said, “It’s easy. If-then statements, simple loops, and I make good money at it,” he said with a smile.

I looked up PCL (Processor Control Language) and saw that its been around since the late 1960’s so its uber-legacy. I wondered what the first programming language I was paid to code in was currently making and checked out what COBOL jobs are paying these days. At indeed.com the average is $88,000 USD!

I don’t regret learning Basic, PL1, Pascal, DB2, JCL, Assembler, Fortran, HTML12345, CSS, Javascript, JQUERY, PHP, MYSQL, SQL, and I know I’m leading a bunch out since I get bored quick.  After I mastered COBOL, I wanted to move on.  I do however understand the allure of legacy coding jobs, since it appears they pay well and could pay even more as old geezer geeks go to the bit bucket in the sky.

I also wonder if this might be a track for Geezer Geeks who are despairing at breaking into the young hipster IT zone?  Instead of getting botox and learning Node/AngularJS, I wonder if some should be re-learning COBOL or dare I say it … FORTRAN! … Saint Grace preserve us (That’s Grace in the photo; she invented COBOL and was an amazing lady from all accounts. I’d have loved to have met her).

I’m actually going to do some research into legacy IT since I think its a legit career track.  No one cares, and in fact they expect that those caretaking some old DB2/COBOL system will be gray-beards.  The odds some young wiz-kid will even want to compete for these jobs is somewhere between zero and zero.