Merit Badges

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Background

Scouts can earn more than 100 merit badges, including the newest merit badges—Kayaking, Search and Rescue, and Game Design. Earning merit badges gives Scouts the opportunity to participate in activities and study subjects that prepare them for life. For information on merit badge requirements and resources, go to the Merit Badges page.

Merit Badge Popularity

The top 10 merit badges required for Eagle rank earned in 2012:

  • First Aid
  • Swimming
  • Environmental Science
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Camping
  • Communications
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Personal Fitness
  • Family Life

The top 10 merit badges not required for Eagle rank earned in 2012:

  • Rifle Shooting
  • Leatherwork
  • Archery
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Fingerprinting
  • Wood Carving
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Chess
  • Art

The table below compares merit badge popularity for the past three years by merit badge name. This table also includes the overall count for each merit badge. To date, Scouts have earned more than 115 million merit badges.

 

Merit Badge
2010
2011
2012
Overall
American Business
667
707
679
51,685
American Cultures
2,353
2,965
2,883
62,946
American Heritage
5,853
6,645
6,626
147,293
American Labor
739
1,168
811
20,726
Animal Science
3,591
3,759
4,503
52,861
Archaeology
7,939
9,586
10,316
138,425
Archery
45,039
45,204
48,229
1,516,727
Architecture
2,840
3,586
3,631
208,470
Art
28,707
32,146
29,273
1,255,341
Astronomy
10,048
14,941
17,308
607,164
Athletics
3,728
3,411
3,465
1,058,055
Automotive Maintenance
9,520
10,762
10,784
147,238
Aviation
21,173
21,440
20,751
568,645
Backpacking
4,377
4,445
4,878
205,993
Basketry
23,899
23,505
22,073
2,402,980
Bird Study
6,668
6,881
6,952
570,139
Bugling
844
628
613
168,953
Camping*
62,174
62,492
60,772
4,549,465
Canoeing
40,160
41,601
39,042
2,958,392
Chemistry
8,661
9,569
9,692
329,138
Chess
0
6,002
29,298
35,300
Cinematography
6,529
7,245
8,308
91,624
Citizenship in the Community*
58,891
57,785
57,951
3,353,100
Citizenship in the Nation*
64,683
64,558
64,120
3,086,975
Citizenship in the World*
67,483
67,779
67,486
2,143,004
Climbing
23,698
24,617
24,609
370,449
Coin Collecting
6,785
7,052
6,043
486,174
Collections
6,090
5,027
5,077
132,597
Communications*
59,462
60,749
59,345
1,944,936
Composite Materials
1,603
1,817
1,610
9,814
Computers
14,474
14,712
14,474
490,686
Cooking
23,548
23,989
23,384
4,193,550
Crime Prevention
8,049
8,374
8,331
122,477
Cycling**
7,533
6,992
7,053
562,359
Dentistry
5,506
4,491
4,403
127,755
Disabilities Awareness
7,362
7,503
7,230
108,582
Dog Care
3,455
3,407
3,330
425,156
Drafting
1,516
1,170
1,377
221,900
Electricity
10,419
11,187
11,350
783,377
Electronics
7,452
7,186
8,060
198,892
Emergency Preparedness***
49,945
50,510
51,035
1,741,107
Energy
3,203
3,641
3,907
72,735
Engineering
9,459
9,418
9,682
124,467
Entrepreneurship
1,582
1,895
1,932
18,046
Environmental Science*
74,836
78,719
76,238
2,573,760
Family Life*
58,767
55,812
56,210
1,055,749
Farm Mechanics
2,387
2,627
2,457
215,895
Fingerprinting
46,395
53,189
46,594
1,585,438
Fire Safety
15,483
16,886
14,517
2,582,269
First Aid*
89,694
94,268
92,312
6,813,506
Fish and Wildlife Management
14,825
16,162
15,528
626,048
Fishing
29,806
32,048
31,932
1,931,042
Fly Fishing
475
4,605
4,291
17,952
Forestry
14,906
16,456
16,309
1,121,606
Gardening
2,403
2,422
2,258
383,900
Genealogy
6,386
5,452
5,641
220,424
Geocaching
4,533
19,419
18,711
42,663
Geology
21,798
23,695
24,015
603,737
Golf
7,236
5,798
5,128
157,894
Graphic Arts
3,093
3,620
3,505
44,614
Hiking**
7,658
7,946
8,132
1,315,017
Home Repairs
4,572
4,324
4,413
2,407,514
Horsemanship
13,230
13,814
12,670
618,837
Indian Lore
28,530
28,591
26,705
1,150,336
Insect Study
3,502
3,579
4,120
158,306
Inventing
616
2,279
2,592
5,487
Journalism
1,191
1,285
1,184
104,482
Kayaking
0
0
21,765
21,765
Landscape Architecture
1,414
1,475
1,618
78,343
Law
7,333
7,315
7,274
172,356
Leatherwork
50,028
51,535
48,674
2,360,170
Lifesaving***
27,739
29,382
28,228
2,986,989
Mammal Study
28,728
31,028
28,309
1,147,224
Medicine
4,547
4,480
4,507
64,833
Metalwork
11,597
12,790
13,674
1,108,431
Model Design and Building
2,123
2,964
3,120
213,936
Motor Boating
12,578
12,133
12,004
564,578
Music
16,623
15,875
15,088
1,291,631
Nature
16,773
18,453
18,114
1,634,232
Nuclear Science
5,908
6,965
7,114
159,413
Oceanography
11,098
10,720
10,636
267,586
Orienteering
18,328
20,221
18,989
783,361
Painting
4,217
5,087
5,412
552,867
Personal Fitness*
58,988
56,588
56,908
2,392,239
Personal Management*
56,793
53,459
54,529
1,710,414
Pets
6,346
6,068
5,904
648,183
Photography
17,479
18,042
18,879
469,905
Pioneering
21,008
23,138
21,550
2,375,566
Plant Science
1,797
2,614
2,593
39,409
Plumbing
6,233
6,417
5,785
381,218
Pottery
8,937
10,493
10,157
365,032
Public Health
1,958
1,989
1,783
1,513,818
Public Speaking
6,671
6,703
6,987
628,123
Pulp and Paper
5,549
6,449
7,495
101,323
Radio
6,994
6,257
6,957
158,609
Railroading
8,868
9,144
8,681
223,470
Reading
6,590
5,889
5,676
1,473,116
Reptile and Amphibian Study
9,797
9,816
9,772
632,072
Rifle Shooting
50,801
54,276
50,435
1,235,086
Robotics
0
5,407
13,262
18,669
Rowing
14,948
15,906
13,769
1,696,337
Safety
4,088
4,128
3,824
2,926,887
Salesmanship
6,286
6,765
6,425
311,744
Scholarship
7,034
6,570
6,310
1,265,396
Scouting Heritage
3,814
6,407
5,394
15,615
Scuba Diving
2,962
3,015
2,594
8,701
Sculpture
10,750
13,074
12,829
281,028
Search and Rescue
0
0
725
725
Shotgun Shooting
24,978
27,838
26,173
471,707
Skating
3,119
3,208
2,220
168,944
Small Boat Sailing
18,471
19,895
18,740
618,941
Snow Sports
11,394
10,586
8,636
433,857
Soil and Water Conservation
15,298
15,554
14,553
1,099,252
Space Exploration
22,914
23,595
23,557
513,956
Sports
9,550
9,167
9,112
1,128,407
Stamp Collecting
1,434
1,147
1,045
387,513
Surveying
1,539
1,145
1,235
149,276
Swimming**
78,825
80,938
80,376
6,169,318
Textile
2,232
3,657
4,681
134,643
Theater
2,174
2,201
2,776
79,069
Traffic Safety
7,148
8,665
7,450
142,901
Truck Transportation
2,960
3,009
2,928
132,548
Veterinary Medicine
3,855
3,502
3,460
69,755
Water Sports
4,891
4,783
4,291
242,525
Weather
16,345
18,582
17,869
546,154
Welding
0
0
4,022
4,022
Whitewater
3,372
4,322
4,149
81,635
Wilderness Survival
41,627
46,757
46,829
1,551,775
Wood Carving
45,121
45,645
44,927
2,207,789
Woodwork
5,866
5,590
4,962
961,126
TOTAL
2,056,867
2,164,366
2,175,878
115,177,687

* required for the Eagle Scout Award

** one of these three badges is required for the Eagle Scout Award

*** one of these two badges is required for the Eagle Scout Award

New Merit Badges—Youth Interest Survey

The Research & Program Innovation Department surveys Boy Scouts and parents of Boy Scouts to gather interest and feedback on upcoming merit badges. Feedback from previous Youth Interest surveys has been used in development of recent merit badges including: Robotics, Chess, Welding, Kayaking, and Search and Rescue. Youth Interest surveys are sent to current Scouting Youth Panel and Parents of Boy Scout Panel members. To join the Scouting Youth Panel or the Parents of Boy Scouts Panel, go to: http://scouting.org/about/research/ResearchPanel.aspx.

 

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