Paramyxoviruses place significant burdens on both human and wildlife health; while some paramyxoviruses are established within human populations, others circulate within diverse animal reservoirs. Concerningly, bat-borne paramyxoviruses have spilled over into humans with increasing frequency in recent years, resulting in severe disease. The risk of future zoonotic outbreaks, as well as the persistence of paramyxoviruses that currently circulate within humans, highlights the need for efficient tools through which to interrogate paramyxovirus biology. Reverse genetics systems provide scientists with the ability to rescue paramyxoviruses de novo, offering versatile tools for implementation in both research and public health settings. Reverse genetics systems have greatly improved over the past 30 years, with several key innovations optimizing the success of paramyxovirus rescue. Here, we describe the significance of such advances and provide a generally applicable guide for the development and use of reverse genetics systems for the rescue of diverse members of Paramyxoviridae.