What Is a React Developer? (And How to Become One)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about the career path of a React developer and how you can get started in this guide.

[Featured Image] A react developer sketches ideas for the user interface of a web application.

React is a popular library among web developers thanks to its open-source, elementary design. If you’re unfamiliar with its use cases, consider the look and feel of the applications you use daily. Industry leaders like Netflix, Instagram, and Uber Eats used React to create their iconic user interfaces (UIs). The following article examines the career of a React developer and how you can become one in just three steps. 

Read more: What Is React Native? Beginner's Guide + FAQ

What is a React developer?

React is an open-source JavaScript library.  It is sometimes referred to as React.js or ReactJS. In programming, libraries serve as toolkits for developers. Their contents may include configuration data, prewritten code, and message templates. A React developer uses their programming skills to create JavaScript-based applications for web or mobile environments. They typically specialize in front-end development, such as building user interfaces (UI).

Read more: Java vs. JavaScript: What's the Difference?

What does a React developer do?

React developers are heavily involved in all stages of the interface development process. The list below outlines a few core responsibilities for React developers.

  • Develop front-end features. React developers may be responsible for UI elements such as icons, images, and gesture-driven features. Examples of gesture-driven features include swiping, long-pressing, and drag-and-drop.

  • Write code. A React developer translates wireframes (also known as screen blueprints) into code. They also work with and write CSS selectors and HTML tags.

  • Optimize application functionality. In addition to designing and creating new features, React developers are responsible for cross-platform functionality. They ensure that different browsers and devices can efficiently run the application.

  • Software testing. Being involved with all stages of interface development requires React developers to test the applications they work on.

Are React developers in demand?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an above-average growth rate of 25 percent is projected for software developer occupations between 2021 and 2031 [1]. In regard to the relevancy of React, it is the second most commonly used web framework worldwide as of 2023 [2]. If you’re interested in front-end development and web design, learning to use React can be a great way to enter this exciting industry.

How to become a React developer

React is a free and open-source library, meaning anyone can use it. If you want to become a React developer to work on an independent project or bring an idea to life, you might consider learning on your own using YouTube videos and interacting with the React developer community.

However, those who want to become a React developer professionally may benefit more from online courses or certifications. These can provide structured learning with industry experts and career credentials. The sections below describe how to become a React developer step-by-step.

1. Choose your focus.

The React library is a front-end development toolkit. Developers use it to handle the view layer of an application, which only deals with the elements of a page that are visible to users. However, the React library is JavaScript based, and JavaScript is a full-stack technology. Full-stack technologies can be used to develop both the front-end and back-end of an application. 

Although React works solely with the view layer of an application, it can be used in conjunction with back-end frameworks for server-side development. For this reason, aspiring React developers can choose to focus on front-end development or acquire full-stack development expertise. 

Front-end web development

Most React developers focus on front-end development. Front-end development includes content structurization, visual style, and interactive user experiences (UX). Earning a Professional Certificate in front-end development is an excellent way to gain the skills you need to prepare yourself for an entry-level role.

Full-stack web development

In addition to developing the UI, full-stack developers work with server-side frameworks and languages like Node.js, Django, and Python. If you’re interested in learning more about full-stack development with React, consider obtaining a relevant Professional Certificate such as the University of Hong Kong’s Full Stack Web Development with React Specialization

2. Gain the essential skills.

Although jobs in the software development field are growing at an above-average rate, a competitive skill set is crucial for React.js candidates [1]. You can use the list below to determine which essential skills to focus on.

  • Programming, stylesheet, and markup languages. React is a JavaScript library. Knowledge of the programming language and its applications is crucial. Other areas of focus for React developers to study include HTML and CSS. Someone new to the web development field may consider an introductory course like Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development and Coding Specialization from the University of Michigan.

  • React developer tools. With proficiency in React developer tools, you can manage your application throughout development. For example, Redux is an open-source state management library. React developers frequently use Redux for application state management and centralization. 

Relevant degrees

Many software developers begin their careers with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Master of Computer Science, or a degree in a related field. Some universities may offer degrees that focus on UX and UI. These areas of study can be particularly beneficial for aspiring React developers. Higher education can be advantageous, but employers do not always require it. 

3. Enhance your resume.

Entering or transitioning into a new role can be intimidating when you don’t yet have on-the-job experience. In place of experience, software developers can build portfolios of their work. These portfolios provide an opportunity to showcase specific skills and expertise. Open source tools like React enable developers of all backgrounds to create and manage projects independently. If you’re unsure where to begin, consider using a Guided Project to help you get started. For example, you can build your own React website with the project-based course below:

Professional Certificates

Another way to highlight your skill set without prior experience is to earn a relevant Professional Certificate. As mentioned above, React developers work primarily with user interfaces and experiences. A specialization in UI or UX can help demonstrate your abilities. Google offers a Professional Certification in UX design that future React developers can use to build three different end-to-end applications.

Start today with Coursera

Ready to advance your career as a React developer? Learn programming fundamentals and skills for developing mobile apps from the experts at Meta with the Meta React Native Specialization.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm.” Accessed August 4, 2023.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.