Scouting’s Easiest (And Hardest) Eagle-Required Merit Badges In 2024

Eagle-required merit badges are the backbone of Scouting. In earning just 13 of these required badges (Citizenship In Society makes it 14 as of July 1, 2022), Scouts learn valuable skills that’ll help them be prepared for success in their futures! However, for a lot of Scouts, completing the Eagle-required badges can be a real challenge…

In this article, I’ll be providing you with a comprehensive list ranking each of the Eagle-required merit badges from easiest to hardest! This list takes into account the complexity of each badge’s requirements, the difficulty of the skill, and the time typically spent to complete the badge.

By the way, nice to meet you! I’m Cole. As an Eagle Scout from Troop 135, I’ve earned almost every merit badge that we’ll be talking about today. From my own experience, as well as from what I’ve seen as a troop Instructor, these easier badges will be perfect for getting most Scouts started on their roads to Eagle!

Later on, I’ll tell you which Eagle-required badges are best for newer Scouts to earn, and even give you some pointers for easier merit-badge-earning! Now, without further ado, here’s how I’d rank the difficulty of every Eagle-required merit badge, from easiest to hardest:

Ranking The Eagle-Required Merit Badges (From Easiest To Hardest)

Now, this list might be different for you based on your merit badge counselor, your past experiences, and your level of physical fitness. Also, completing any badge during a Summer camp (like I did with Swimming and Citizenship!) will make the process much easier.

While the actual difficulty for you might vary, most Scouts would agree that the more requirement-intensive merit badges are ranked lower on this list. That’s why it’ll be a good idea to start with earning the badges closest to rank one! There are only a few exceptions…

Which Merit Badges Are Best For New Scouts?

To gain a solid foundation for your Scouting career, I’d suggest starting 5 specific Eagle-required merit badges before taking on any others. Learning these key skills will make your outings much safer and more fun! Here’s my list of the most important merit badges for younger Scouts to learn:

  • First Aid: Although very unlikely, if a Scout gets injured it’s important that their fellow Scouts know how to provide treatment — fast. That’s why First Aid should always be one of the first badges earned (maybe that’s why they call it “first” aid ๐Ÿ˜› )
  • Cooking: Being able to contribute to your patrol by whipping up a delicious meal is such a great skill to have! Plus, knowing food handling safety to prevent sickness is a must for camp cooking.
  • Swimming (or Hiking/Cycling): Earning any one of these badges will really help a Scout to become physically prepared for most high adventure activities and troop functions.
  • Camping: Being able to camp safely and comfortably in a range of conditions will help any Scout to gain confidence and enjoy their troop campouts even more.
  • Emergency Preparedness/Lifesaving: Scouting is all about being adaptable and ready to handle any sort of emergency. Once you’ve earned EPrep or Lifesaving, you’ll be ready to take on every other badge!

While most of these badges are on the easier end of my merit badge difficulty rankings, you should still expect that they’ll take quite a few months to earn. For instance, the Camping badge requires you to camp for a total of 20 nights! Just recognize that it’ll probably be a slow process, and that’s ok.

Starting off, your main goals should be to open a few of these merit badge blue cards and familiarize yourself with the requirements you’ll need to complete. After that, just start learning and working on knowledge requirements! Mastering these skills may take a while, but that’s the fun part. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you do want to advance quickly in Scouting though (And maybe even Earn Eagle In A 2-Year Timeline), in the next section, I’ll give you my best tips for completing merit badges quickly and effectively!

Tips For Earning Any Merit Badge Fast

Now that you know the difficulty of each Eagle-required merit badge, you’re probably ready to just get started, right? Wrong!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ First, I want to give you a few tips for earning merit badges and tracking progress so that you’re 100% prepared to finish requirements and rank up — fast:

  1. Always take a picture of your blue card (or use Scoutbook!) to ensure that your progress is stored in at least 2 places.
    • Needing to re-do requirements because of lost paperwork is the worst, and I don’t want you to go through that!
  2. Start multiple merit badges (I’d recommend 2-3) at once so that you always have something productive to work on if you have some spare Scouting time.
    • I always liked spending 30 mins before each meeting to finish a few requirements, and then getting them signed off that night! Remember, progress is made one small step at a time. ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. Circle or write down your โ€œnext stepsโ€ so that youโ€™re never at a loss for what to do if you’re trying to make progress on a merit badge.
    • Again, progress is made through small steps. Knowing what steps to take is just as important, so always make it a point to identify your next steps for merit badge requirements!
  4. Talk with your merit badge counselor when starting out and briefly walk through each requirement. Decide on a general timeline for earning your badge. Try to stick to it!
    • For example, you can plan to meet your Family Life badge counselor every other week for 3 months until you finish your 90-day chore plan. At that point, you should be finished!
  5. Take note of the action-based badge requirements thatโ€™ll be most difficult to complete. Then, ask yourself what needs to be done, where it needs to be done, and when you can do it.
    • Often, you’ll need to attend an event to complete a requirement (like cooking 3 camp meals for the Cooking merit badge). Be prepared before the event with the supplies and knowledge to get everything done!
  6. Work together with your Scouting buddies to complete merit badges.
    • Finding a Scouting buddy to teach requirements to and practice skills with can be a gamechanger when it comes to finishing merit badges quickly.
  7. Use helpful online resources like ScoutSmarts to begin your research!
    • Also, if you work on any badges independently, but plan to attend Summer camp, choose badges that don’t overlap since Summer camp is the easiest place to complete requirements. Typical Summer camp badges include:
      • Swimming
      • Lifesaving
      • Environmental Science
      • Citizenship in the Nation
      • Citizenship In the World
      • Emergency Preparedness
      • These can vary by location though, so check with your local camp!


By knowing which merit badges are the easiest and hardest to earn, you already have a huge leg up on your Scouting journey! Now, all you need to do is put this knowledge into action by taking on the best badges for newer Scouts. I know you’ve got this!!

PS — If you’re trying to become an Eagle Scout, you should definitely check out my article teaching you the 6 Best Tips To Stay Motivated In Scouting (And Rank Up!)

Also, Iโ€™d highly recommend you sign up for my newsletter, The ScoutSmarts Scribe, for Scouting tips, freebies, and weekly notifications whenever I post a new article. No spam, guaranteed!

With that, I want to wish you the best of luck in earning these merit badges and creating fun memories with your troop! Remember that Scouting in a marathon – not a sprint – so really enjoy the process. Come back to ScoutSmarts soon and, until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey! ๐Ÿ™‚


I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our 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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