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Part 1 - How to find nth highest salary in sql

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This is a very common SQL Server Interview Question. There are several ways of finding the nth highest salary. 



By the end of this video, we will be able to answer all the following questions as well.
1. How to find nth highest salary in SQL Server using a Sub-Query
2. How to find nth highest salary in SQL Server using a CTE
3. How to find the 2nd, 3rd or 15th highest salary

Let's use the following Employees table for this demo.
sql query to find nth highest salary of employee

Use the following script to create Employees table
Create table Employees
(
     ID int primary key identity,
     FirstName nvarchar(50),
     LastName nvarchar(50),
     Gender nvarchar(50),
     Salary int
)
GO

Insert into Employees values ('Ben', 'Hoskins', 'Male', 70000)
Insert into Employees values ('Mark', 'Hastings', 'Male', 60000)
Insert into Employees values ('Steve', 'Pound', 'Male', 45000)
Insert into Employees values ('Ben', 'Hoskins', 'Male', 70000)
Insert into Employees values ('Philip', 'Hastings', 'Male', 45000)
Insert into Employees values ('Mary', 'Lambeth', 'Female', 30000)
Insert into Employees values ('Valarie', 'Vikings', 'Female', 35000)
Insert into Employees values ('John', 'Stanmore', 'Male', 80000)
GO

To find the highest salary it is straight forward. We can simply use the Max() function as shown below.
Select Max(Salary) from Employees

To get the second highest salary use a sub query along with Max() function as shown below.
Select Max(Salary) from Employees where Salary < (Select Max(Salary) from Employees)

To find nth highest salary using Sub-Query
SELECT TOP 1 SALARY
FROM (
      SELECT DISTINCT TOP N SALARY
      FROM EMPLOYEES
      ORDER BY SALARY DESC
      ) RESULT
ORDER BY SALARY

To find nth highest salary using CTE
WITH RESULT AS
(
    SELECT SALARY,
           DENSE_RANK() OVER (ORDER BY SALARY DESC) AS DENSERANK
    FROM EMPLOYEES
)
SELECT TOP 1 SALARY
FROM RESULT
WHERE DENSERANK = N

To find 2nd highest salary we can use any of the above queries. Simple replace N with 2. 

Similarly, to find 3rd highest salary, simple replace N with 3. 

Please Note: On many of the websites, you may have seen that, the following query can be used to get the nth highest salary. The below query will only work if there are no duplicates.
WITH RESULT AS
(
    SELECT SALARY,
           ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY SALARY DESC) AS ROWNUMBER
    FROM EMPLOYEES
)
SELECT SALARY
FROM RESULT
WHERE ROWNUMBER = 3

7 comments:

  1. Can anyone help...

    Below is my problem statement

    I am a developer and using SQL Server as a backend. I recently installed Windows 8.1 OS from Windows 7.

    I was able to successfully installed the Visual Studio 2013. But when I am trying to install SQL server 2014 its giving me an error stating "This SQL Server Setup media is not supported on a X86 system . To continue , run the SQL Server Setup media that matches your system ".

    And to a Surprise I am having X64 processor laptop..

    Please help me to install SQL server...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I got d reason .. mine system was 32 bit...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Download sql server 2014 64 bit and try

    ReplyDelete
  4. can anybody share sql server 2012 download link...

    ReplyDelete
  5. in the last query -> ROW_NUMBER()
    can't we use DISTINCT keyword to avoid duplicate results ???

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pls Explain difference b/w implicit transaction & explicit transaction ?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Sir,
    Will you please explain query for "To find nth highest salary using Sub-Query"

    ReplyDelete

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