"Big iron" doesn't always get a lot of coverage in the tech press, but CA Technologies' Dayton Semerjian notes that 80 percent of the companies on the Fortune 500 list still use mainframes. Unfortunately, many of the programmers who keep those mainframes up and running are due to retire soon. In fact, Compuware estimates that about 40 percent of the 2 million Cobol programmers, many of whom work on mainframe systems, will retire soon.
As a result, many companies are looking to hire more mainframers. A Compuware survey found that 71 percent of CIOs at large enterprises are concerned about the looming mainframe skills shortage. And Compuware's Paul Vallely points out that mainframe programmers generally earn more than those who work on other platforms.