What does a Mainframe Developer do?


Mainframe Developers work on large central computer systems, i.e., mainframes that are capable of running at high speeds and can perform large scale organization, calculations, and storage. Let’s take a closer look at the role of a Mainframe Developer. 

What is Mainframe Development?

A Mainframe is a large central computer, capable of carrying out millions of instructions per second. A mainframe has the ability to work uninterruptedly, even when a component has to be changed since its modular design allows it to work non-stop and without the need to restart.

In general, these huge computers are used as the central calculation and storage of large organizations in companies such as banks, universities, corporations, etc., since they are capable of running at high speeds and multitasking. 

They also have an architecture designed to allow a balance of benefits and a higher level of security for the data that is processed or transmitted to and from the mainframe, being ideal for teamwork and networks that require high working speeds and sensation. computer security.

Mainframe Developer - Role Overview
Mainframe Developer – Role Overview

And so mainframe development refers to the installation, updating, design, and development of the mainframe software environment. A mainframe developer is an expert in working with the mainframe system and has a solid understanding of many programming languages ​​and mainframe tools. 

Does the mainframe have a future?

While many have long since written it off, the mainframe system continues to thrive. Mainframes are experiencing a renaissance today in the age of cloud computing. For example, when consolidating server farms with a mainframe and a corresponding operating system, many virtual servers can be operated and power and space-saving.

This creates a demand for mainframe developers – so much so that companies are unable to find mainframe experts quickly enough as older mainframe developers near retirement.

Responsibilities and day-to-day tasks

A mainframe developer is essentially a software developer but one who works within the mainframe system. As such, they have similar responsibilities as a software developer. 

Mainframe Developer - Responsibilities
Mainframe Developer – Responsibilities

These include the design, development, and management of the mainframe software. They are responsible for program analysis where they analyze and accurately manage the complex logic of COBOL and PL / I applications. Developers use mainframe application development tools to quickly master mainframe programs and data.

Day to day tasks: 

  • Development, troubleshooting, and modification of current Mainframe system
  • Perform analysis, design, and develop custom features and functions for applications
  • Interact with integration infrastructure and varied systems
  • Understand and accurately manage the complex logic of COBOL and PL / I applications without documentation to improve developer productivity
  • Quickly identify code problems to correct before compiling
  • Visualize and work with both mainframe and non-mainframe data
  • Use mainframe data for mobile apps, big data analytics, and testing
  • Quickly control mainframe data and its relationships
  • Quickly fix errors using source-level analysis.
  • Identify bugs and check test results using a directory of all bug activity
  • Create technical and operational documents for team members

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Skills required as a mainframe developer

Mainframe experts are a diminishing group of developers. This has created an increasing demand for mainframe experts on a global scale.

With the right skillset, you could find work in a wide range of industries anywhere in the world. 

To start off, it is essential to have a strong knowledge of mainframe languages and tools. 

Mainframe Developer – Skills

What are some mainframe languages and tools?

Mainframe Development is made up of some key languages: 

  • CA7 and DB2
  • SQL
  • Java
  • C and C++
  • Linux languages

Additionally, knowledge of project management and software development cycle is also beneficial. Depending on the sector, industry-specific skills and knowledge may be required. 

Skills required for a Mainframe Developer:

  • Strong knowledge of Mainframe tools and languages
  • Vast knowledge of business processes in specific industries
  • Software delivery with a concentration in requirements, design, and development.
  • Ability to multitask effectively and prioritize requirements
  • Offer systems support, security reviews, & maintenance
  • Passionate to learn new technologies and methodologies quickly.
  • Advances troubleshooting and debugging
  • Keen concentration, problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Pragmatic, diligent, and detail oriented
  • Debugging and Troubleshooting skills 
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills 

How do you become a mainframe developer?

Most mainframe programmers have a bachelor’s degree; however, some employers hire workers who have an associate’s degree. While a degree in computer science is important, in the programming field, your programming skill is what really counts. 

Most Computer Science degrees these days don’t include mainframe development as part of their course work. Since experts believe that mainframe will continue to play an important role in the foreseeable future, it is important to take on stand-alone specialized courses to up your skills. 

Courses and certifications to consider: 

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The salary of a mainframe developer depends on a few factors. From industry to role position, to the system that needs to be worked on.

For new graduates, the annual starting salary is up to $63,000. The average salary with a few years of experience is closer to $90,000. At senior level roles with considerable professional experience, annual salaries can go up to $150,000

How much do mainframe programmers make?


What is the average freelance rate for a mainframe developer?

Average rate Mainframe Developers (2022) $81/hr

On average, freelance Mainframe Developers charge $81/hour (freelancermap’s price and rate index in September 2022).

Freelance rates in Mainframe Development range between $61 and $101 for the majority of freelancers.

If we consider an 8-hour working day at $81/hour, the daily rate for freelance Mainframe Developers is around $648/day.

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Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com


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