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Kharmela Mindanao

By: Kharmela Mindanao on April 17th, 2024

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RP, CCP, CCA: Comparing the Different CMMC Roles


Are you trying to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity compliance? Wondering how Registered Practitioners (RPs) and Certified CMMC Professionals (CCPs) fit into your organization's cybersecurity framework?  

Now, more than ever, you need to know how these people can help prepare you for increasing cyber threats and government regulations.  

In this article, we’ll demystify the roles of RPs and CCPs in a clear, concise manner. Drawing on insights from a conversation with Sean Harris, an RP and CCP, we will explore the significance of these certifications for your business.  

Get ready to learn how RP and CCP certifications impact your cybersecurity posture and how to choose which one to get. 

What is a Registered Practitioner (RP)? 

Business professionals discussing CMMC roles and compliance strategies in a meeting

“The CMMC certifications are so new that even the people who should be looking for them are not aware they exist,” Harris explained.  

And yet, knowing what RP and CCP stand for is a must for businesses involved with federal contracts. 

Registered Practitioners are foundational experts of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework. For an investment of approximately $500 to $600 annually, candidates undergo a four to five-hour open-book training session, coupled with a mandatory background check.  

This certification serves as a primer to the CMMC, offering a basic yet essential understanding necessary for businesses aiming to comply with federal cybersecurity regulations. 

What is a Certified CMMC Professional (CCP)? 

Consultants analyzing the CMMC framework, discussing the differences between RP, CCP, and CCA roles

In contrast, the CCP designation marks a leap in terms of depth and commitment. Unlike the RP's accessible path, becoming a CCP involves a stringent, proctored exam that follows a 40-hour training course provided by an approved trainer.

This certification also demands a substantial financial investment, running into several thousand dollars, reflective of the comprehensive knowledge and skills acquired.

Being a CCP is only one level under being a CMMC Certified Auditor (CCA). 

What is a CMMC Certified Auditor (CCA)? 

Meeting focused on clarifying CMMC roles and the distinct functions of RPs, CCPs, and CCAs

Transitioning from Certified CMMC Professional (CCP) to Certified CMMC Auditor (CCA) marks the last step of a CMMC professional’s career progression, symbolizing the attainment of the highest standards in cybersecurity auditing.  

This journey challenges you with a proctored exam and 30 hours of advanced training, diving deep into the nuances of effective CMMC audits. 

Though it may cost a couple thousand dollars, CCA accreditation opens opportunities for advanced roles in cybersecurity governance, risk management, and compliance, setting a new trajectory for your professional journey.

What are the differences between an RP and CCP/CCA? 

You’re now faced with the choice: train or hire RPs or CCPs/CCAs. This choice hinges on understanding the distinct roles and the depth of expertise each certification brings.  

"I once got a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification years ago and it was a couple hours online with an exam,” Harris shared, “but then I went and became an EMT too which was weeks and weeks of training. Knowing CPR versus becoming an EMT is similar to the differences between RP and CCP/CCA.

Think of RPs as individuals with essential first-aid knowledge, akin to those who've taken a CPR course. They possess a foundational understanding of the CMMC framework, capable of navigating basic compliance requirements with a modest investment in training and certification costs. 

On the other hand, CCPs are akin to Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who have undergone extensive training that demonstrates a deeper commitment and understanding of complex cybersecurity landscapes.  

This level of expertise requires a significant investment in both time and resources, but it equips individuals with the skills to tackle more sophisticated cybersecurity challenges and ensure compliance with federal regulations at a higher level. 

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How do you choose between an RP and a CCP/CCA?  

Choosing an RP or CCP/CCA should align with your specific needs and strategic goals.  

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) seeking to build a basic cybersecurity framework might find RPs sufficient and cost-effective.  

On the other hand, larger organizations or those with intricate cybersecurity needs, especially those dealing with sensitive government contracts, might find the investment in CCP/CCA certification invaluable.  

CCPs/CCAs offer a more in-depth understanding and capability to implement, manage, and oversee advanced cybersecurity protocols, ensuring compliance with the evolving CMMC standards.  

For example, the financial outlay for CCP/CCA certification represents a strategic investment in your company's security posture and compliance capabilities.  

You will also find the technical expertise of CCPs/CCAs invaluable in architecting and implementing cybersecurity frameworks like the NIST cybersecurity framework 

Office managers will appreciate the broad awareness RPs bring to the team, fostering a culture of security-mindedness across all operations. 

Ultimately, the choice between an RP and a CCP/CCA should be guided by the organization's size, complexity, and the specific cybersecurity challenges it faces, ensuring that the certification level matches the organizational needs and goals while fostering a secure and compliant cyber environment. 

Ready to become CMMC 2.0 compliant? 

Understanding the difference between an RP and a CCP is more than academic; it's a strategic decision that can significantly impact your business's cybersecurity framework and compliance posture.

Whether you're looking to enhance your team's awareness of cybersecurity best practices or need deep, technical expertise to navigate the CMMC landscape, you’ll need a solid understanding of both these roles.

ITS, as a managed security service provider (MSSP) dedicated to our client’s cybersecurity success, has multiple guides for helping businesses become CMMC compliant.

Download our eBook, Everything You Need to Know about CMMC 2.0 to help you on your compliance journey, or schedule a meeting with our compliance experts.

For other CMMC resources, check out:

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