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Job Description for a Mainframe Systems Programmer

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Mainframe systems programmers perform tasks related to the functioning of large, centralized computers. The work of systems programmers focuses on the software that runs the computer itself, also known as “systems level” software.


Mainframe computers are large computers within an organization that, generally, receive and send transmissions involving individual workstations used by non-technical personnel. Non-technical personnel don’t interact with mainframe computers.

Systems Level

Because of the mainframe’s multiple processing activities, a mainframe computer requires programming, troubleshooting and maintenance at the systems level. This involves the development of both programming for the computer’s individual operations as well as any networking protocols that interact with other computers.


Fundamental duties for a mainframe systems programmer involve the writing of operating systems software (programs) and network distribution software, as described in “Mainframe Systems Programmer” at Occupations.career.org. Duties also involve testing the software, defining functional specifications, and research related to these duties.


Another important duty for the mainframe systems programmer is that of troubleshooting the overall system. According to “Resume Writing 101: A Real World Guide for the Mainframe Systems Programmer” at Spci.net, this single duty is significant enough that it is an assumed requirement for any mainstream programmer job, even if it's not identified in the ad for the job.


Mainframe systems programmers perform these duties in a variety of organizations, including communications, medical, aerospace, military and general business environments.