Mr. D's Merit Badge Review

as of 4/1/2012

Merit Badge #Rqmnts Difficulty Duration Prereqs Comments
AMERICAN BUSINESS 6 Hard 3 Months none Would go great with school economics course.  What makes this "hard" is running a business for 3 months, otherwise it is easy to medium.
AMERICAN CULTURES 5 Medium 1-3 Months none Duration is mostly logistics - this one takes some planning.
AMERICAN HERITAGE 6+ Medium 2-3 Months none Would go great with an American History class.  A fair bit of planning and reporting required.
AMERICAN LABOR 9 Medium 1 Month none Good companion to American Business MB, requires a bit of writing and research, but nothing too difficult.
ANIMAL SCIENCE 6 Easy 1 Month none Some planning and visits, but most information is in an encyclopedia or library book.
ARCHAEOLOGY 11 Hard 2-5 Months none Very involved.  Need to do research, reports, presentations and visits. Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones movies won't count as requirements, but they will help make it more interesting.
ARCHERY 5 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Skill required!  But fun to learn and do.  Good summer camp badge.
ARCHITECTURE 5 Medium 1 Month none Lots of cool PC tools to help, involves interviews.  Be sure to ask the architects why they almost always under estimate the cost! Pamphlet combined with Landscape Architecture in 2009.
ART 5 Easy 1 Week none Good first merit badge - they don't get any easier than this ... fun too.
ASTRONOMY 9+ Medium 1-2 Months none Fairly involved and requires planning.  Good camp or troop badge. So is Pluto a planet?
ATHLETICS 6 Medium 1-3 Months

none

A scout is physically fit ... and this newly updated badge will prove it.  Takes some planning and scheduled events.
AUTOMOTIVE MAINTENANCE 12+ Hard 2-5 Months 15-16ish This will be invaluable later (when you need to get that thingy to stop making that noise, etc.), but not of much interest until around driving age. Revamped in 2009.
AVIATION 5 Medium 1-3 Months none Some of this is in your Webelos book!  Revisions make this a solid "medium" and does require some planning and project work.
BACKPACKING 11+ Medium 3 Months Some First Aid Not difficult, but time consuming.  Good start possible at summer camp.
BASKETRY 3 Easy 1-3 Days none As easy as they get!
BIRD STUDY 8 Medium 1-12 Weeks none Lots to study, but not too involved.
BUGLING 6 Medium 3 Months none Good one for brass players in band, but most can learn a bugle.  3 months of bugling required.
CAMPING (E) 10+ Medium 1-2 Years none Most requirements are simple, but to get in all the campouts takes time.  Keep track of all campouts and around 1st Class or Star should have most done.  Rewritten in 2006, although not much changed.
CANOEING 10+ Medium 1-4 Weeks First Aid First Aid will cover CPR and other first aid issues and 1st Class requires basic swimming skills.  Otherwise, enjoy the ride!
CHEMISTRY 7+ Medium 2-8 Weeks Science in School A good one to do with High School Chemistry or Science class.
CHESS 6+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none A good introductory badge requiring you to learn the basics and some history of the game, but overall it never says you have to be good at playing the game <g>!
CINEMATOGRAPHY 4 Easy 1-4 Weeks none The hard part might be finding the merit badge counselor, but otherwise this is a fairly easy one.
CITIZENSHIP - Community (E) 8+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none A good one to do with Jr. High or High School government class.  Eagle Required.
CITIZENSHIP - Nation (E) 8+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none A good one to do with Jr. High or High School government class.  Eagle Required.
CITIZENSHIP - World (E) 7+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Rewritten in 2006 and seems easier, but overall is still a "medium" rating.  Again a good one to do with Jr. High or High School government class.  Eagle Required.
CLIMBING 12+ Medium 1-12 Weeks none Some knots and climbing required.  Good one for summer camp or high adventure campout.
COIN COLLECTING 10+ Medium 1-12 Weeks none Apparently the zealots were not content with 4 requirements, now there are 10.  Helps to already have a collection started.
COLLECTIONS 9+ Medium 1-12 Weeks none Could do in conjunction with coin collecting ... or drier lent ... or even something useful!  Fun for us packrats! - You CAN'T use a coin or stamp collection for this badge.
COMMUNICATIONS (E) 9 Easy 1-4 Weeks none Good summer camp or merit badge trail activity ... I'd tell you more, but that's your job!
COMPOSITE MATERIALS 6+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Seems like a good introduction to the topic without going nuts! A good current materials technology to learn about.
COMPUTERS 9 Medium 1-12 Weeks none Good one for school keyboarding or if you already use the computer for papers, internet and other things.  If it's all new to you, this will take some time!
COOKING 8+ Medium 1-8 Weeks none Need to do some planning and cooking, but fairly easy.  This bumped up to medium because it doubled in reqs in '02.
CRIME PREVENTION 9+ Medium 4-12 Weeks none Lot of trips/visits to plan, so this one will take some time.
CYCLING (E Opt) 9+ Medium 3-6 Months none Lots of bike rides required for this one.  Plan to do it over a year or so. (Eagle required or Swimming or Hiking)
DENTISTRY 7+ Medium 2-6 Weeks teeth Easy-to-medium. My dentist would love this one, yours might too!  Do your brush your tongue?  Floss?
DISABILITIES AWARENESS 7 Medium 3 Months none While the political correctness runneth over, this is a merit badge to be proud of.  Possibly a life/perspective-changing effort.  Recently rewritten.
DOG CARE 10 Medium 2 Months Helps to have a dog A good one to do if you have a dog or like animals.  If you don't have a dog, you might be able to take care of someone else's for the badge.
DRAFTING 7+ Medium 1-8 Weeks none Shades of my old mechanical drawing class from high school!  Rewritten in 2009 pretty much requiring access to a CAD system and drawing tools.  Might as well do the architecture badge while you're at it
ELECTRICITY 11+ Medium 1-2 Weeks none Can get most of the information from books at the library.  Rated medium because it requires two small projects and has over 10 requirements.
ELECTRONICS 6 Medium 1-2 Weeks none Goes well with electricity, project intensive and requires some math.  Perfect if you are taking it in school anyway!
EMERGENCY PREP. (E Opt) 9+ Medium 1-6 Weeks First Aid This or Lifesaving is Eagle Required.  This badge is a goes well right after First Aid and Pioneering.
ENERGY 8 Medium 3-6 Weeks Jr/Sr High Science This is best done in conjunction with a school science class and requires oral and written reports.
ENGINEERING 9+ Medium 1-2 Months none Another badge prepared by zealots!  You'll know a lot about engineering and get to do some visits and hands-on projects.  Learn why most engineers should be required to take the communications merit badge
ENTREPRENEURSHIP 6+ Hard 3 Months none This badge was probably prepared by consultants (like a zealot only with no stake in the outcome)!  Does require you to start a business, good joint badge with American Business.
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (E Opt) 6+ Medium 1-8 Weeks none Eagle Required (or Sustainability).  Rewritten to be a bit less zealous, which is good.  An important badge, of course!  A good one to do at Summer Camp.
FAMILY LIFE (E) 7 Easy 3 Months none Earn brownie points at home!  A simple enough merit badge, but it does require some discipline.  90 days is a must for requirement 3.
FARM MECHANICS 7+ Medium 1-6 Weeks none If you live on a farm this is a breeze!   If not, your camp ranger or a local farmer would appreciate your projects on this one.
FINGERPRINTING 5 Easy 1 Week none You can probably pick up a finger printing kit from your local police department ... and convince network TV to do a CSI spin-off for your home town.
FIRE SAFETY 12+ Medium 3 Weeks none Pyros ... this is the one for you - please!  Not hard, but lots of stuff to do, explain, and demonstrate and includes a visit to the fire department.
FIRST AID (E) 7+ Hard 1 - 4 Weeks none You must know Tenderfoot, 2nd and 1st Class first aid for this, but it's a good way to kill 4 birds with one stone (okay, wound 4 birds and then fix them up).  Requires learning and demonstrating CPR.  Good one to do before many other badges!
FISH AND WILDLIFE MGMT 8 Medium 1 - 4 Weeks none Good Summer Camp badge.
FISHING 9 Medium 1 - ? Weeks none Time to complete this is mostly dependent on how quickly you can catch two fish.  Scout fishermen are exempt from "trustworthy" only in reporting the size of the fish that got away (simply because it's tradition)!
FLY FISHING 10 Medium 1 - ? Weeks none Why are there 10 requirements here and only 9 for Fishing you ask?  Good question.  If you do both together that would make sense, but this does have some special skills needed!
FORESTRY 7+ Hard 1 - 8 Weeks none This is a good Summer Camp badge.  It requires several "collections"/identifications of plants, trees and shrubs.
GAME DESIGN (NEW) 8 Medium 1 - 8 Weeks none Game design as in sports, board/card/role-play games, video games and etc. (aka broad definition). If you like games, this is a fun one and a good introduction to design issues, etc.
GARDENING 8 Easy 2 Months none Just need to watch your garden grow ... and a few other things! It just got promoted "medium" due to a few new requirements, but is still a very straight-forward MB.
GENEALOGY 9 Medium 2-4 Weeks none The revision brings this badge down a notch from the over-zealous category. It is now more in-line with an introduction to the topic, albeit involved.  It should be an interesting badge to do.
GEOCACHING 9 Medium 1-4 Weeks none This looks like a pretty fun merit badge. Orienteering skills would help make this more meaningful but not required per se. Some geocaching equipment will be needed but your counselor or camp may have this available.
GEOLOGY 5+ Medium 1-16 Weeks none If you are a rock hound ... this is for you.  Totally rewritten in 2006, it is now a more reasonable introduction.  Still involved, but one you are more likely to tackle, rock-hound or not.
GOLF 8 Easy 1-4 Weeks none This is definitely a fun one, play golf and earn a badge!
GRAPHIC ARTS 7+ Medium 2-4 Weeks none Good intro to graphic arts and includes a field trip.
HIKING (E Opt) 7 Medium 1-4 Weeks 1st Class First Aid Eagle alternate badge (or swimming or cycling).  This is a good one to do over a longer period of time based on troop hikes/events.
HOME REPAIRS 6+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Make the folks happy by becoming Mr. Fix-it.  I'm for this one!!!  Thrift vs. the money pit (a house)!
HORSEMANSHIP 11 Medium 2 Months Helps to have a horse A good one to do if you have a horse or like animals.  You even get to be "in harmony" with your horse.  You could be the next horse whisperer!
INDIAN LORE 4+ Easy 1 Week none Could go well with history.  This is a nice introductory level approach to the topic.  Kudos to the authors.
INSECT STUDY 11 Hard 1-3 Months none If your school biology class still requires an insect collection, this will be a natural, otherwise the bug collection could be a show stopper.  Has definite summer camp possibilities!
INVENTING 9 Medium 2-12 Weeks none Looks like a good introductory type badge. Expect to design your own invention and build a prototype.
JOURNALISM 5 Medium 1-4 Weeks none This is a nice introductory level approach and very useful for understanding what you read and hear in the news.
KAYAKING (NEW) 8 Medium 1 - 4 Weeks Swimmer Similar to other boating badges, this requires knowledge of the equipment and demonstrating some skills, but is a lot of fun!
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE 6 Easy 1 Week none This is fairly straightforward and a good intro to landscaping. Pamphlet combined with Architecture in 2009.
LAW 11 Medium 2 Weeks none I expected a high-falutin' set of requirements, but found these quite reasonable.  A good intro.
LEATHERWORK 5 Easy 1 Week none Good camp badge in terms of having the materials you need, but can be done at home too.
LIFESAVING (E Opt) 15+ Medium 1-4 Weeks Swimming MB, CPR Good camp badge for pool, etc.  This is Eagle required, but optional if Emergency Preparedness has been earned.  A good one to do regardless. 
MAMMAL STUDY 5 Medium 1 Week none Has many options, some more time-consuming than others.
MEDICINE 10+ Hard 1 Month none Good introduction, but prepared by zealots.  Lots of details in this one.  Might be able to get into med school after this!
METALWORK 5+ Medium 1 Week none A good one to do in conjunction with metal shop.  Access to proper tools is helpful.  Should be able to forge the tetsighga with these skills.
MODEL DESIGN AND BUILDING 6 Medium 2 Weeks none Project planning and model creation required, but a fun one.
MOTORBOATING 6+ Medium 1-6 Weeks CPR This is a good one to be an older scout, having 1st Class swimming requirements and CPR (via First Aid or other merit badges) - access to a motorboat is required.
MUSIC 4 Easy 1-6 Months none Don't let 6 months scare you off -- one option is being in a band or choir for that long.  Good introduction to music.
NATURE 4+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good summer camp or merit badge trail activity.
NUCLEAR SCIENCE 8 Medium 1-3 Months none Would go well with high school science.  Not hard, but involves research and projects.
OCEANOGRAPHY 9 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good in conjunction with high school biology, good selection of options to choose from.
ORIENTEERING 10+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Might be better to be 2nd Class or above, but not essential.  You'll know map reading and compass use well after earning this one!  Still as a male you may only ask for directions as a last resort
PAINTING 8 Easy 1-2 Weeks none An easy one, but useful none-the-less.  You do not have to paint the counselor's house!
PERSONAL FITNESS (E) 9+ Medium 3 Months none Eagle required.  This'll get you in shape!
PERSONAL MANAGEMENT (E) 10+ Medium 3 Months none Eagle required.  This is medium because it requires planning and discipline, but provides good life skills!
PETS 4+ Easy 4 Months none Easier that Dog and Horse MBs, but you need 4 months of pet care to earn it.
PHOTOGRAPHY 5 Easy 2-4 Weeks none Rewritten in 2006, this badge is now more of a general introduction to the subject. Should be an easy one to complete.
PIONEERING 10 Medium 1 Week none Good scout weekend or summer camp badge.  Helps to earn this one on your way to Emergency Preparedness and after First Aid (or rank-level First Aid).  If you like camp gadgets, you like this!
PLANT SCIENCE 7+ Hard 1-3 Months none Good companion to gardening MB.  Does require growing some plants, hence 1-3 Months.  The 2006 rewrite move this into the difficult and "created by zealots" category.  It's more like 15 requirements than 7.
PLUMBING 7 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Does require using a torch and solder, and some plumbing materials and equipment.
POTTERY 8 Medium 1-4 Weeks none You might find a ceramic/pottery shop offering a course or your counselor providing resources to assist you in doing the projects.
PUBLIC HEALTH 8 Medium 1-2 Months none Requires a few visits, so you'll need some extra time for logistics.  And remember to wash your hands!
PUBLIC SPEAKING 5 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good to do in conjunction with a high school speech class, or possibly find a Toastmaster's Club!  A good skill to acquire.  A close companion of the Communications MB.
PULP AND PAPER 8 Medium 2-6 Weeks none Requires some time to arrange a visit and carry-out your projects.
RADIO 9+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Almost zealot status, but fairly straight forward.  Find a local ham (radio operator) if your counselor isn't one!
RAILROADING 8+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good Merit Badge trail or local model RR club activity. Now has a spiffy new patch.
READING 4+ Easy 1-4 Weeks none Includes a good service project.  The reading can likely be done in conjunction with school or sr. citizens home.
REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN 10+ Medium 1 Month none Requires keep a reptile or amphibian for a month ... tell mom you have to for your badge.  This does get a zealot award.
RIFLE SHOOTING 2+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good Summer Camp badge.  Options include rifle shooting, air rifle or black-powder rifle shooting.
ROBOTICS 7+ Medium 1-3 Months none Good introduction, but will require some expense and pretty involved. However, robots are pretty cool and there are kits to help. I don't believe you are allowed to fight them though …
ROWING 11+ Medium 1 Week CPR, Swim Test Do this one after First Aid and 1st Class or swimming MB.
SAFETY 8 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Fairly easy with one project involved.
SALESMANSHIP 7 Medium 1-4 Weeks none You are likely already a pro based on school and scout sales alone ... might as well earn the badge! 
SCHOLARSHIP 5 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good student or improving those grades, get credit with a MB.  Does have some writing, interviewing and visits.
SCOUTING HERITAGE 8 Easy 1-8 Weeks none A good introspective introduction to scouting. Learn some history, dig up some Troop history, make a collection of scouting stuff, and talk to some old scouters and you have a merit badge. Might be able to do in conjunction with collecting.
SCUBA DIVING 6+ Hard 2-4 Months Swimming MB, CPR This requires taking a full SCUBA training course (PADI's, or other, basic open water diver certification). Very fun, but time consuming and expensive. It is zealous (not an "intro to" badge), but you end up with an actual certification in the process.
SCULPTURE 3 Easy 1 Week none Play with clay, earn a badge!  Probably have done this in art class at some time or another.
SEARCH AND RESCUE (NEW) 10 Medium 1 - 4 Weeks

none

While there aren't any pre-requisites, this MB follows nicely after first aid, emergency prep and/or life saving. It is more about the logistics of search and rescue and is a good introduction to it.
SHOTGUN SHOOTING 12+ Hard 1-8 Weeks none Might be good to do in conjunction with rifle shooting.
SKATING 6+ Medium 1 Week 1st Class First Aid Good basic intro on your choice of three types of skating, does require a demonstration of skill.
SMALL-BOAT SAILING 9+ Medium 1-4 Weeks CPR Good summer camp or park district badge.  Take after canoeing and/or rowing badges.
SNOW SPORTS 15 Medium 1-4 Weeks 1st Class First Aid A fun badge, but requires study and skill, so this may take awhile to complete.  Was called Skiing MB which better describes it.
SOIL AND WATER CONS. 7+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Good Summer Camp or merit badge trail project, but can do any time.
SPACE EXPLORATION 8 Medium 1-4 Weeks none You get to shoot a model rocket - gotta like that!
SPORTS 5 Medium 1 Month 1st Class First Aid Requires participation in  2 sports. Should be a simple one for boys already doing recreational or school sports.
STAMP COLLECTING 8+ Medium 1 Month none If you like stamps and/or collecting, this is a good one.  Think of stamps as trading or gaming cards!
SURVEYING 8 Medium 1 Week none Good basic intro to surveying.  Your counselor, city manager/engineering dept., local college, etc. are all likely to have equipment and time to help you with this one.
SUSTAINABILITY 6+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Eagle Required (or Environmental Sciences). This is 15 tasks disguised as 6 requirements and involves mostly planning and research and very little "hands-on." Politically correct and full of good intentions (and easier), I'd still recommend ES for a more meaningful experience.
SWIMMING (E Opt) 10+ Medium 1 Week CPR, 1st Class Swim Test An eagle required badge (or cycling or hiking).  I recommend this one, if physically able, even if you don't like to swim.  It's an important life skill, even if just for safety.
TEXTILE 6 Easy 1 Week none Good introduction to textiles and the industry.
THEATER 6+ Medium 1 Week none Good one if you are involved in school Muse or Theater productions.  This can be fun for campfires as well!
TRAFFIC SAFETY 5 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Requires a project related to traffic safety, but a good one to do before or during driver's training!
TRUCK TRANSPORTATION 10 Medium 1-4 Weeks none The 2006 rewrite brings this down to level of a good introduction to the industry.
VETERINARY MEDICINE 6+ Medium 1 Month none Rewritten in 2006 and is a bit less intense now.  A good badge for animal lovers.
WATERSPORTS (waterskiing) 7 Medium 1-4 Weeks 1st Class, CPR A fun badge, just made easier. Does require some demonstration of basic skills.  Access to equipment is important - which your counselor usually has access to.  Sometimes local park districts have programs that might assist with many or all requirements.
WEATHER 10 Medium 1 Week none While there are several requirements, the fall in the easy category.  Does require a 5 minute talk.
WELDING 7+ Medium 1-2 Months none A good introduction into many of the basic skills of welding. Will require some access to equipment, but overall seems pretty straight-forward.
WHITEWATER 14 Hard 1-4 Weeks CPR, Canoeing This one is hard by virtue of the number of requirements and pre-requisites.  Designed by zealots, but at least it was mostly for safety reasons.
WILDERNESS SURVIVAL 12 Medium 1-4 Weeks 1st Class First Aid Fun, useful, but fairly involved.  A good summer camp badge, but can be done in conjunction with campouts.
WOOD CARVING 7 Medium 1-4 Weeks none Fun and only rated "medium" because two carvings are required ... watch your fingers!
WOODWORK 7+ Medium 1-4 Weeks none Requires a visit and a project or two, but if you like to make things out of wood ... this is for you.
E = 12 Eagle Required Merit Badges

E Opt. = Eagle Required Merit Badge with an option (Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving; Swimming, Hiking or Cycling; Environmental Science or Sustainability)

Tips: you might be able to do some interviews over the internet or via e-mail

Note: 10 or more requirements generally means a badge is a more recent badge and/or the authors were, shall we say, a tad bit over-zealous.
+ means that there are multi-part requirements, sometimes so many you wonder why they just didn't number them.
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Page updated on: October 30, 2013



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