The American Merit Badges Ranked: Which Is Best To Earn?


American Labor, American Business, American Cultures, and American Heritage. Is it just me, or are there a surprising number of ‘American’ merit badges! In this article, I’ll be breaking down the differences between each of these badges, so that you can decide for yourself which one (or ones 🙂 ) will be right for you to earn next!

First, let’s rank these badges from easiest to most difficult. If you’re interested in mainly learning knowledge requirements and giving your personal opinions, begin with my top selections first!

PS: If a badge on the list is underlined, that means by clicking it you’ll be able to check out my full merit badge guide!

Now without further ado, the ‘American’ merit badges, when ranked from easiest to hardest, fall in the following order:

1. American Cultures (Easiest)

2. American Business

3. American Heritage

4. American Labor (Most Difficult)

If you don’t know very much about these badges yet, don’t worry. I’ll be giving you more information on each of these American badges shortly. Before we get into the reasons behind my rankings, let’s take a second to briefly review what you’ll be learning by completing each of these 4 badges!

Overview Of Each ‘American’ Merit Badge

American Business: Do you know what it takes to run a successful business? In the American Business merit badge, you’ll learn about company financials, worker rights, and government regulations. If you ever decide to start or work for a large corporation, this will be useful information to know!

(Fun fact: American Business used to be one of the least-popular merit badges, and was earned less than 1000 times in 2018 because it required scouts to start their own businesses. That’s crazy! Ever since they eliminated that requirement in 2019 though, American Business has been on a steep upward trend!)

American Cultures: Alongside you and your family, countless people of different backgrounds, cultures, and races also call this nation their home. To earn the American Cultures badge, you’ll research the traditions, customs, and contributions of at least 3 groups of these groups of people, with the goal of learning about how they helped to shape our country.

American Heritage: What’s the history behind our great country? Why should you, personally, be proud to be an American? In earning the American Heritage merit badge, you’ll begin to understand how America’s past affects its present. You might even learn a little bit more about your own family!

American Labor: What is the American worker’s role in supporting our nation? How do they make their voices heard? In the American Labor merit badge, you’ll learn about how labor rights in the US have changed throughout history, and begin to understand the labor-management conflicts going on in the world today.

Most Difficult Requirement Of Each ‘American’ Merit Badge

Now that you understand what each of these badges are about, let’s take a closer look to identify each badge’s most difficult requirement! In my experience, just one near-impossible merit badge requirement can turn any otherwise fun badge into a nightmare.

Most Difficult Requirement
American Cultures (Easiest)5) Give a talk to your scout unit or class at school on how people from different groups have gotten along together. Lead a discussion on what can be done to help various groups understand one another better.
American Business2a) Explain the three basic types of financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows). Discuss with your counselor how each statement can help business leaders make better decisions.
American Heritage1) Read the Declaration of Independence. Pay close attention to the section that begins with “We hold these truths to be self-evident” and ends with “to provide new Guards for future security.” Rewrite that section in your own words, making it as easy to understand as possible. Then share your writing with your merit badge counselor and discuss the importance of the Declaration of Independence.
American Labor (Hardest)2) With your counselor’s and parent’s approval and permission, visit the office or attend a meeting of a local union, a central labor council, or an employee organization, or contact one of these organizations via the Internet.

Now I’m not trying to be a downer — these are all interesting and useful badges to earn! Don’t let some difficulty get in the way of learning what you want to learn and doing what you’d like to do. 🙂

Most Fun/Interesting Requirement Of Each ‘American’ Merit Badge

In my opinion, the following requirements are most thought-provoking questions included in each badge. These requirements will push your boundaries and help you to see our world in new ways!

Most Fun/Interesting Requirement
American Cultures (Easiest)2) Imagine that one of the groups had always lived alone in a city or country to which no other groups ever came. Tell what you think the city or country might be like today. Now tell what you think it might be like if the three groups you chose lived there at the same time.
American Business5) Choose a business and research how it applies each of the primary areas of business (accounting, finance, economics, marketing, and management). Share what you have learned with your counselor.
American Heritage3c) Research your family’s history. Find out how various events and situations in American history affected your family. If your family immigrated to America, tell the reasons why. Share what you find with your counselor.
American Labor (Hardest)7) Choose a labor issue of widespread interest to American workers-an issue in the news currently or known to you from your work on this merit badge. Before your counselor, or in writing, argue both sides of the issue, first taking management’s side, then presenting labor’s or the employee’s point of view. In your presentation, summarize the basic rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, including union members and nonunion members.

Conclusion

Each one of the ‘American’ merit badges will give you a clearer understanding of the country we live in. Regardless of whether you choose the easiest or most difficult of the bunch, I encourage you to start on just one of these merit badges today!

Also, if you liked this article and haven’t yet earned every one of your Eagle-required merit badges, I’d highly recommend checking out my  Difficulty Ranking Guide to Every Eagle-required Badge. There, you’ll also find the links to my other merit badge guides, as well as a description and summary of each badge’s requirements!

Thanks for reading! As always, best of luck on your Scouting journey. 🙂

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content for this website because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making this world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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