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What does a Mainframe Programmer do?

Learn all about Mainframe Programmer duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Mainframe Programmer.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A mainframe programmer is responsible for developing, testing and deploying software applications that run on large computers. They work with a team of other programmers and system analysts to design and implement new features or to maintain existing ones. Mainframe programmers must have a strong understanding of computer science concepts and be proficient in one or more programming languages.

Mainframe Programmer job duties include:

  • Write code and perform testing for new mainframe applications or enhancements to existing ones
  • Work with business analysts and users to understand requirements and develop technical specifications
  • Design, develop, test, implement, and maintain COBOL, JCL, CICS, DB2, and IMS programs
  • Assist in the migration of applications from older systems to newer ones
  • Monitor system performance and fine-tune programs as needed
  • Resolve defects discovered during testing or by users in production
  • Write documentation for new and existing programs
  • Provide on-call support for mainframe applications as needed
  • Train other programmers on mainframe development standards and procedures

Mainframe Programmer Job Requirements

A Mainframe Programmer is responsible for developing, testing and implementing software programs on mainframe computers. They work with systems analysts, developers and other IT professionals to understand system requirements and create high-quality code. A Mainframe Programmer typically has a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, and experience with mainframe programming languages such as COBOL, Assembler and CICS. Certification from vendors such as IBM can also be helpful.

Mainframe Programmer Skills

  • COBOL
  • JCL
  • CICS
  • DB2
  • IMS
  • VSAM
  • REXX
  • CLIST
  • TSO/ISPF
  • Z/OS
  • MVS

Related: Top Mainframe Programmer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Mainframe Programmer

There are many ways to become a Mainframe Programmer. The most common way is to have a four-year degree in computer science or related field, and then to get a job with a company that uses Mainframes. However, there are other ways to become a Mainframe Programmer. One way is to take Mainframe training courses offered by colleges or universities, or online. These courses will teach you the basics of programming on a Mainframe. Another way is to get a job with a company that provides Mainframe support services, and then learn Mainframe programming on the job.

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