2022 merit badge rankings: A new chart-topper emerges

Scouts wearing merit badge sashes

It’s time for our annual roundup of the most-earned and rarest merit badges. Let’s take a look at what changed, what stayed the same and what took the prize as our most highly earned merit badge of last year (SURPRISE! It’s never been in the top spot before).

In 2021, we saw the rebound of merit badges many Scouts earn at summer camp. And 2022 seems to have solidified interest in those badges. Read on to see where Scouts have remained consistent and where they’ve focused new interest.

The 10 most-earned merit badges of 2022

The Citizenship in Society merit badge shook up the top-earned list during its first full year as an option for Scouts (and as it became a required merit badge for Eagle Scouts last summer).

2022 Rank Merit Badge
1 Citizenship in Society
2 First Aid
3 Swimming
4 Environmental Science
5 Citizenship in the World
6 Camping
7 Communication
8 Citizenship in the Nation
9 Cooking
10 Personal Fitness

The alternative top 10

OK, let’s take a look at the most popular merit badges that aren’t required to earn Eagle Scout.

2022 Rank Merit Badge
1 Fingerprinting
2 Rifle Shooting
3 Archery
4 Leatherwork
5 Kayaking
6 Wood Carving
7 Chess
8 Wilderness Survival
9 Art
10 Fishing

The 10 rarest merit badges of 2022

Are you or your Scouts collector’s-edition merit badge fans? Here are some of the most rarely earned badges from 2022.

2022 Rank Merit Badge
128 Veterinary Medicine
129 Composite Materials
130 Truck Transportation
131 Dentistry
132 Stamp Collecting
133 American Labor
134 Journalism
135 Surveying
136 Drafting
137 Bugling

Noteworthy changes in the rankings

While somewhat consistent, check out some minor shake ups in the rankings below.

Top gains

2022 Rank Merit Badge 2021 Rank Difference
81 Radio 98 17
65 Electronics 80 15
101 Whitewater 116 15
71 Nuclear Science 85 14
75 Railroading 89 14
35 Aviation 48 13
45 Chemistry 58 13
41 Engineering 52 11
72 Salesmanship 83 11
68 Snow Sports 78 10

The complete lineup

Green means a merit badge is required for Eagle.

A total of 21 merit badges must be earned for the Eagle Scout rank, including these 14 merit badges:

  1. First Aid
  2. Citizenship in the Community
  3. Citizenship in the Nation
  4. Citizenship in Society
  5. Citizenship in the World
  6. Communication
  7. Cooking
  8. Personal Fitness
  9. Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving
  10. Environmental Science OR Sustainability
  11. Personal Management
  12. Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
  13. Camping
  14. Family Life
2022 Rank Merit Badge 2021 Rank Difference
1 Citizenship in Society
2 First Aid 2
3 Swimming 1 -2
4 Environmental Science 3 -1
5 Citizenship in the World 5 0
6 Camping 4 -2
7 Communication 7 0
8 Citizenship in the Nation 11 3
9 Cooking 6 -3
10 Personal Fitness 9 -1
11 Personal Management 17 6
12 Fingerprinting 12 0
13 Citizenship in the Community 15 2
14 Emergency Preparedness 18 4
15 Family Life 16 1
16 Rifle Shooting 8 -8
17 Archery 10 -7
18 Leatherwork 13 -5
19 Kayaking 14 -5
20 Wood Carving 19 -1
21 Chess 21 0
22 Wilderness Survival 22 0
23 Art 24 1
24 Fishing 20 -4
25 Canoeing 23 -2
26 Shotgun Shooting 26 0
27 Climbing 28 1
28 Lifesaving 29 1
29 Space Exploration 25 -4
30 Mammal Study 27 -3
31 Astronomy 30 -1
32 Photography 33 1
33 Geology 31 -2
34 Basketry 34 0
35 Aviation 48 13
36 Small Boat Sailing 38 2
37 Nature 32 -5
38 Game Design 37 -1
39 Welding 44 5
40 Indian Lore 36 -4
41 Engineering 52 11
42 Metalwork 35 -7
43 Pioneering 39 -4
44 Robotics 43 -1
45 Chemistry 58 13
46 Search and Rescue 49 3
47 Weather 40 -7
48 Geocaching 41 -7
49 Sculpture 53 4
50 Orienteering 45 -5
51 Automotive Maintenance 50 -1
52 Music 56 4
53 Fire Safety 55 2
54 Fish & Wildlife Management 47 -7
55 Horsemanship 42 -13
56 Forestry 46 -10
57 Pottery 51 -6
58 Signs, Signals, and Codes 57 -1
59 Motor Boating 62 3
60 Animation 59 -1
61 Oceanography 63 2
62 Electricity 67 5
63 Sustainability 61 -2
64 Moviemaking 66 2
65 Electronics 80 15
66 Pulp and Paper 70 4
67 Soil and Water Conservation 64 -3
68 Snow Sports 78 10
69 Hiking 60 -9
70 Rowing 72 2
71 Nuclear Science 85 14
72 Salesmanship 83 11
73 Traffic Safety 77 4
74 Digital Technology 68 -6
75 Railroading 89 14
76 Disabilities Awareness 74 -2
77 Public Speaking 79 2
78 Archaeology 76 -2
79 Reptile and Amphibian Study 71 -8
80 Bird Study 73 -7
81 Radio 98 17
82 Scouting Heritage 65 -17
83 Crime Prevention 86 3
84 Painting 87 3
85 Woodwork 84 -1
86 Pets 69 -17
87 American Heritage 82 -5
88 Collections 81 -7
89 Cycling 75 -14
90 Law 91 1
91 Architecture 97 6
92 Coin Collecting 93 1
93 Sports 96 3
94 Entrepreneurship 101 7
95 Programming 100 5
96 Mining in Society 102 6
97 Plumbing 103 6
98 Fly Fishing 94 -4
99 Animal Science 88 -11
100 Scholarship 90 -10
101 Whitewater 116 15
102 Backpacking 95 -7
103 Safety 104 1
104 Reading 92 -12
105 Textile 110 5
106 Exploration 108 2
107 Home Repairs 109 2
108 Insect Study 99 -9
109 Graphic Arts 106 -3
110 Public Health 54 -56
111 Dog Care 107 -4
112 Inventing 111 -1
113 Model Design and Building 122 9
114 Golf 115 1
115 Medicine 114 -1
116 Farm Mechanics 112 -4
117 Plant Science 119 2
118 Theater 126 8
119 American Cultures 113 -6
120 Genealogy 105 -15
121 American Business 118 -3
122 Water Sports 124 2
123 Scuba Diving 121 -2
124 Skating 120 -4
125 Athletics 123 -2
126 Gardening 117 -9
127 Energy 127 0
128 Landscape Architecture 125 -3
129 Veterinary Medicine 129 0
130 Composite Materials 132 2
130 Journalism 130 0
131 Truck Transportation 128 -3
132 Dentistry 131 -1
133 Stamp Collecting 133 0
134 American Labor 134 0
136 Surveying 135 -1
137 Drafting 136 -1
138 Bugling 137 -1

Looking for more merit badge metrics?

Take a look at last year’s post to see how these numbers measure up to 2021. And thank you to Scouts BSA’s Garfield Murden for supplying this year’s rankings!


About Gina Circelli 52 Articles
Gina Circelli is the senior digital editor for Scout Life. She loves sharing news about Scouts who shake up pop culture or contribute to their communities in big ways.