It’s no secret, some Eagle-required merit badges are harder to earn than others. If you’re interested in difficulty rankings and recommendations of when to complete each Eagle-required merit badge, you’re in the right place!
A number of Eagle-required badges are completed during troop activities or classes, which is a fact I took into account when rating their difficulty. The higher the ranking, the more work outside of Scouting you’ll likely need to do to complete the badge. However, just because a badge is difficult, doesn’t mean it won’t also be fun!
Further down in this article, you can also read my descriptions of each badge, the reasoning behind my difficulty rating, as well as find a link to my full guides on completing each Eagle-required merit badge worksheet’s knowledge requirements. 🙂
Without further ado, the 14 merit badges needed to reach the rank of Eagle Scout and their difficulty ratings are:
- First Aid: 6
- Citizenship in the Community: 8
- Citizenship In Society: 4
- Citizenship in the Nation: 6
- Citizenship in the World: 5
- Communication: 8
- Cooking: 7
- Personal Fitness: 7
- Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving: 5, 6
- Environmental Science or Sustainability: 7, 8
- Personal Management: 9
- Swimming or Hiking or Cycling: 4, 9, and 9
- Camping: 6
- Family Life: 6
You might also be wondering if there’s an ideal order for Scouts to complete their Eagle-required merit badges. There is! As an Eagle Scout who’s earned every badge listed other than Sustainability, Cycling, and Citizenship in Society (it didn’t exist) I’d strongly recommend completing the badges in a specific order.
I’ll be grouping all 14 Eagle-required badges into 3 categories: Badges that should be completed by younger Scouts (Under 15), badges that should be completed by Scouts around the age of 15, and badges that are best suited for older Scouts (Aged 15+).
I’d definitely recommend reading the article but, if you’re more of a visual learner, I’ve also created a helpful video (10:19) giving you more details on each of these badges:
By the way, if you aren’t already subscribed to my channel, you definitely should so that you can get notifications, helpful tips, and detailed recommendations on your journey through Scouting! Now, read through this article, and I guarantee you’ll be prepared to earn each of these Eagle-required merit badges and become an Eagle Scout! 🙂
Best Eagle-Required Merit Badges For Younger Scouts (Under 15)
Tip: Click the underlined badge name to check out my ultimate guides, aimed at helping you answer the knowledge requirements to each merit badge worksheet!
Overview: The First Aid merit badge teaches Scouts the skills necessary to provide assistance, should they witness a medical emergency. First aid is typically one of the first Eagle-required badges most Scouts earn, and for good reason. Having a detailed knowledge of first aid will make future activities in Scouting much safer!
Overall Difficulty: 6.
The First Aid badge can usually be completed during troop or Summer camp classes. Although First Aid has a total of 14 requirements, most of these are knowledge-based and require minimal research.
Hardest Requirement: You’ll need to demonstrate proper CPR technique on a training device to complete requirement 7 and earn the First Aid merit badge. This can typically only be done during an official CPR certification course.
Overview: Earning any of these badges will undoubtedly test your physical fitness and endurance. The reason why they’re best for younger Scouts though is that they’re typically done as troop activities. Swimming will likely be the easiest badge to earn, as it is often offered as a class during longer summer camps.
Overall Difficulty: 4, 9, and 9, respectively.
Don’t think they’ll be a simple walk in the park just because these badges are done as troop activities. Hiking and Cycling are no joke, and you’ll need decent swimming skills to earn the Swimming merit badge. You can click here to see a full comparison between earning Swimming, Hiking, and Cycling.
Hardest Requirement: Requirement 3 for the Swimming merit badge has you demonstrating various strokes for 150 yards. However, if you’re able to swim this won’t be too difficult. The hardest requirement for Hiking will be to complete a 20-mile hike. For Cycling, you’ll need to complete a 50-mile bike ride. Yikes!
Overview: After you’ve gained some experience camping, it’ll be a good idea to earn your Cooking merit badge. Cooking teaches you proper nutrition, food storage, and culinary safety skills — along with how to cook a camp menu, of course. Cooking is often the first Eagle-required merit badge that Scouts earn by themselves, without the help of troop classes or events.
Overall Difficulty: 7.
To earn the Cooking merit badge, you’ll need to make a number of meals in a variety of situations. You also must learn and understand the answers to many food-safety knowledge requirements. If you’ve camped often though, the meals for this badge are pretty easy to complete.
Hardest Requirement: The Cooking merit badge’s requirement 5 has you making three camp meals for your patrol or a group of up to 8 people. You’ll need to make the third meal using either a Dutch oven, a foil pack, or skewers. Hope you’re as hungry to earn the Cooking badge as they are for dinner! 🙂
Overview: A good mix of activities and knowledge requirements, the Camping merit badge will teach Scouts outdoor ethics, camp safety, and proper trek planning. If you can earn the camping badge, that typically means that you’ve reached an advanced level in Scouting.
Overall Difficulty: 6.
If you’ve been in Scouting for at least a year and a half, you’ve probably attended enough camps to finish the most difficult part of the Camping merit badge. After that, earning this badge will be all about gaining more camping knowledge and experience.
Hardest Requirement: You’re required to camp a total of 20 nights to complete requirement 9 of the camping merit badge. You’ll also need to participate in some camping experiences of your choice, such as rappelling or snowshoeing. This should be pretty easy if you’ve been in Scouting for a while.
Best Eagle-Required Merit Badges To Earn Around Age 15
Overview: When given the option to earn either Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, most Scouts earn Emergency Preparedness, as EPrep can be completed individually and teaches the skills necessary to prevent and respond to different types of crises.
Most Lifesaving requirements must be completed in a pool with qualified lifeguard supervision. In earning Lifesaving, a Scout will learn how to handle different types of aquatic emergencies.
If you’re deciding on which badge to earn, you can check out my article weighing the pros and cons of earning Emergency Preparedness vs Lifesaving, by clicking here!
Overall Difficulty: 5 and 6.
EPrep mainly consists of straightforward knowledge requirements but requires a Scout to earn their First Aid merit badge beforehand. For Lifesaving, a Scout must demonstrate various swimming and rescue techniques in the water. Be warned, Lifesaving is more difficult to earn than the Swimming merit badge!
Hardest Requirement For Emergency Preparedness: To complete requirement 1 of Emergency Preparedness, you’ll first need to earn the First Aid merit badge. Additionally, you’ll also need to take part in an emergency service project with your Scouting unit or a community agency to complete requirement 7.
Hardest Requirement For Lifesaving: Requirement 1 of the Lifesaving badge requires you to swim continuously for 400 yards while demonstrating various strokes. Outside of this, you’ll also need to show confidence in the water by completing various aquatic rescue exercises.
Overview: If you’ve reached the middle of your Scouting career, it’s about time you earn the Citizenship merit badges. Citizenship in the Community will help Scouts to understand their government on a local level, as well as identify ways to support organizations benefiting their community.
Overall Difficulty: 8.
Often considered the most difficult citizenship merit badge to complete, Citizenship in the Community mainly requires Scouts to complete projects, volunteer in their community, and understand various knowledge requirements.
Hardest Requirement: To complete requirement 7, you’ll need to volunteer with an organization helping your community for a total of eight hours. You’ll also have to attend other local events and develop a presentation to showcase unique aspects of your community.
Overview: Citizenship in Society is Scouting’s newest Eagle-required merit badge, and for good reason! In this badge, you’ll learn to act as an ethical leader and upstander. You’ll also learn about the importance of diversity, along with the harmful effects of prejudice in our American society.
Overall Difficulty: 4.
Citizenship in Society consists of mostly knowledge requirements and thought experiments. By going into the badge with an open mind and thinking through the scenarios carefully, you should have no trouble finishing it and learning a ton — while not having to do too much research beforehand!
Hardest Requirement: To complete requirement 7, you’ll need to find and interview an ethical upstander in your community. Or, you could do research on a historical figure that you feel meets the criteria instead!
Overview: The Citizenship in the Nation merit badge teaches Scouts about the rights and responsibilities of US citizens. In completing this badge, Scouts will also learn about the history and present-day function of the American government on a national level.
Overall Difficulty: 6.
Citizenship in the Nation mainly requires you to learn and understand our government’s basic functions, and should not be too difficult to complete. However, you’ll also need to work on a few projects such as touring a national facility and writing a letter to an elected official.
I recommend Scouts complete the Citizenship badges around the age of 15 as, at that point, they’ll have likely taken classes in school, such as world history and civics, that would give them a good background to earn these types of badges.
Hardest Requirement: Requirement 8 is probably the most difficult part of the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge, as it requires you to write a letter to one of your district’s elected officials. Later, you’ll also need to discuss any response you receive with your counselor.
Overview: Citizenship in the World will teach Scouts about the various organizations that help to uphold international law. Scouts will also learn about various cultures and global events, hopefully becoming more open-minded and accepting of all people in our world.
Overall Difficulty: 5.
Citizenship in the World is often considered the most straightforward Citizenship merit badge and will mainly test your ability to answer knowledge requirements. In fact, the entire badge can be researched and completed in one sitting if you’re dedicated enough.
If you still haven’t earned Citizenship in the World and are looking to easily earn an Eagle-required badge, I’d highly recommend you check out my complete guide, here!
Hardest Requirement: To complete Citizenship in the World requirement 3, you’ll need to research a current world issue along with the various countries involved. This will take a decent understanding of geography and politics, which is why I recommend this badge for Scouts who have already taken world history and geography classes.
Overview: Both the Sustainability and Environmental Science merit badges will teach you important skills about how to conserve resources and protect the natural ecosystem. However, while Sustainability deals more with reducing waste in your household, Environmental Science will teach you about the science behind the way that humans interact with nature.
If you’re deciding on which badge to earn, check out my full comparison of the Environmental Science vs Sustainability merit badge by clicking here.
Overall Difficulty: 7 and 8.
Both Environmental Science and Sustainability are tricky badges that are usually worked on individually. For either choice, you’ll have a balanced mix of experiments and knowledge requirements to complete. Through your experiments, you’ll develop a thorough understanding of how your actions impact our environment!
Hardest Requirement For Environmental Science: Requirement 3 of the Environmental Science merit badge will give you the option to either conduct experiments or write reports. Requirement 4 will have you carry out an experiment by observing a plot of land. Both of these tasks are tricky and will take a minimum of one week to complete.
Hardest Requirement For Sustainability: Requirement 2 of the Sustainability merit badge will be tough. You’ll need to make various plans to implement sustainability into your household by reducing your food, water, and energy waste. At a minimum, this one requirement will take at least a month to carry out and complete.
Best Eagle-Required Merit Badges For Older Scouts (Over 15)
A quick note, I’ve saved these badges for older Scouts because they’re typically done individually and deal with topics that are more complex and ‘adult’. You earn merit badges to learn life skills, so to get the most out of Scouting, I’d highly recommend you wait until you’re 15 before starting any of the following badges.
Note: A Scoutmaster recently informed me that his troop holds merit badge seminars on Personal Fitness to start Scouts out on a great foundation and also concurrently finish the fitness requirements (6) for Tenderfoot, 2nd Class and 1st Class. In this case, Personal Fitness would be a great badge for Scouts under 15, given that they still put their full effort in!
Overview: The Family Life merit badge teaches Scouts the importance of cooperation within a household, as well as some key skills necessary to one day start their own families. This badge is best suited for older Scouts who face greater responsibilities in and outside of their households.
Overall Difficulty: 6.
While the requirements for Family Life aren’t too difficult, you’ll still need to be on top of things to successfully complete this badge. In addition to discussing various topics with your parents, you’re also be tracking your home duties, creating a project for your household, and hosting a family meeting.
Hardest Requirement: For most Scouts earning the Family Life merit badge, requirement 3 will be the most difficult. Requirement 3 has you track and complete at least five regular chores over the course of at least 90 days. By staying on top of your schedule, you’ll develop organizational skills and ensure your plans succeed.
Overview: The Personal Management merit badge will equip Scouts with the skills to manage their finances as young adults. To earn this badge, you’ll need to track your budget for three months, as well as identify the answers to various knowledge requirements. Personal Management is one of the most useful merit badges and has many real-world applications.
Overall Difficulty: 9.
It’ll take effort and perseverance to complete the Personal Management merit badge. Requiring a thorough understanding of various financial terms, as well as the completion of a few projects, Personal Management is easily one of the most difficult Eagle-required merit badges.
Hardest Requirement: Requirement 2 asks you to create a budget and track your expenses for a period of 13 consecutive weeks. Outside of that, you’ll need to do hours of research to complete the financial knowledge requirements.
Luckily, I put a ton of work into creating a complete guide to the Personal Management merit badge for you! Check it out by clicking here.
Overview: The Communication merit badge will teach Scouts to structure their thoughts and speak articulately. To complete this badge, Scouts must investigate the communications styles of themselves and others, ultimately using these skills to host an event and present on behalf of their troop.
Overall Difficulty: 8.
Communication is often one of the last merit badges that Eagle Scouts earn, and for good reason. It’s tough! Between giving presentations, conducting interviews, and creating written content, Communication is likely one of the most difficult merit badges a Scout can earn.
Hardest Requirement: Communication doesn’t have just one hard requirement — they’re all difficult and require hands-on effort. Requirements 2-8 will have you scripting and planning events, attending local meetings, and presenting on multiple occasions. Good luck!
Eagle-Required Merit Badge Difficulty Rank Recap Table
|Starter-Tier Merit Badges||Medium-Tier Merit Badges||Expert-Tier Merit Badges|
|First Aid||Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving||Communication|
|Camping||Citizenship in the Nation and World||Family Life|
|Cooking||Citizenship in the Community||Personal Fitness|
|Swimming, Hiking, or Cycling||Environmental Science or Sustainability||Personal Management|
Do you have your next Eagle-required merit badges in mind now? You should! The difficulty ratings I’ve included come from the experiences I’ve had on my journey to becoming an Eagle Scout, as well as from the input of other Scouts online. Hopefully, now it’ll help you out too! 🙂
Great work finishing my article! I truly hope this resource helps you on your path to Eagle. For many Scouts though, one of the best ways to ensure success in Scouting is through a clear strategy, along with effective planning, continued tracking, and friendly accountability.
That’s why I created an in-depth e-course, Your TrailMap To Eagle! In it, you’ll learn my best methods for staying organized, ranking up insanely fast, and making the most out of Scouting — while still maintaining a healthy school-life balance.
So, if you’re wondering if my program is right for you, check it out today!
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you here at ScoutSmarts again soon. As always, I’m wishing you the best of luck on your Scouting journey!