How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server

Introduction

 
In this article, I am going to explain to you how to find the second highest salary in various ways. This is one of the most common questions asked in an SQL interview.
 
Below are the several ways of finding the Nth highest salary:
  1. How to find the second highest salary in SQL Server using a Sub-Query
  2. How to find the second highest salary in SQL Server using a CTE
  3. How to find the 3rd, 5th highest salary
Here we will be using SQL Server 2017, or you can use SQL Server 2008 or above.
 
Read my previous Joins in SQL Server 2017 part of this article using the below links before reading this article:
Prerequisites
 
SQL Server 2017 or you can use SQL server 2008 or above version.
 
First, we will create a Database and a table.
 

Creating a Database and One Table

 
Step 1 - Create a Database
 
Open your SQL Server and use the following script to create the “chittadb” Database.
  1. Create database chittadb  
Now, select the script query then press F5 or click on the Execute button to execute the above script.
 
You should see a message, “Command(s) completed successfully.” This means your new database has been created.
 
Step 2 - Create a table
 
Open your SQL Server and use the following script to create a table “tbl_Employees”.
  1. Create table tbl_Employees  
  2. (  
  3.      Id int primary key not null identity(1,1),  
  4.      FirstName varchar(50),  
  5.      LastName varchar(20),  
  6.      Location varchar(20),  
  7.      Gender varchar(50),  
  8.      Salary int  
  9. )  
Execute the above query to create “tbl_Employees “.
 
You should see a message, “Command(s) completed successfully.”
 
Now, the data has been inserted into the table. 
  1. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Chittaranjan''Swain','Odisha''Male', 80000)  
  2. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Chandin''Swain''Pune','Female', 76000)  
  3. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Mitu''Pradhan','Delhi''Male', 55000)  
  4. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Jeni''Swain','Chennai''Female', 76000)  
  5. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Adyashree''Swain','UK''Female', 49000)  
  6. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Ram''Kumar','US''Male', 39000)  
  7. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Jitendra''Gouad','Hydrabad''Male', 35000)  
  8. Insert into tbl_Employees values ('Dibas''Hembram','Bangalore''Male', 55000)  
Execute the above query, you should see a message, “Command(s) completed successfully.”
 
Now retrieve all data from the “tbl_Employees” table.
  1. select * from tbl_Employees  
output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server
 
How To Find Second Highest Salary
  1. select distinct top 2 salary from tbl_Employees order by Salary desc  
Output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server 
 
How To Find Second Highest Salary Using a Sub-Query
 
To Get the Second Highest Salary use a Subquery along with the Max() function
  1. Select Max(Salary) as Salary from tbl_Employees where Salary <(select MAX(Salary) from tbl_Employees)  
Output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server
 
How To Find Second Highest Salary Using a Sub-Query
  1. SELECT TOP 1 SALARY  
  2. FROM (  
  3.       SELECT DISTINCT TOP 2 SALARY  
  4.       FROM tbl_Employees  
  5.       ORDER BY SALARY DESC  
  6.       ) RESULT  
  7. ORDER BY SALARY  
OutPut
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server

How To Find Second Highest Salary Using CTE
  1. WITH RESULT AS  
  2. (  
  3.     SELECT SALARY,  
  4.            DENSE_RANK() OVER (ORDER BY SALARY DESCAS DENSERANK  
  5.     FROM tbl_Employees  
  6. )  
  7. SELECT TOP 1 SALARY  
  8. FROM RESULT  
  9. WHERE DENSERANK = 2  
Output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server
 
How To Find the Third Highest Salary
  1. select distinct top 3 salary from tbl_Employees order by Salary desc  
Output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server
 
How To Find the Third Highest Salary Using Sub-Query
  1. SELECT TOP 1 SALARY  
  2. FROM (  
  3.       SELECT DISTINCT TOP 3 SALARY  
  4.       FROM tbl_Employees  
  5.       ORDER BY SALARY DESC  
  6.       ) RESULT  
  7. ORDER BY SALARY  
Output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server

How To Find the Third Highest Salary Using CTE
  1. WITH RESULT AS  
  2. (  
  3.     SELECT SALARY,  
  4.            DENSE_RANK() OVER (ORDER BY SALARY DESCAS DENSERANK  
  5.     FROM tbl_Employees  
  6. )  
  7. SELECT TOP 1 SALARY  
  8. FROM RESULT  
  9. WHERE DENSERANK = 3  
Output
 
How To Find The Second Highest Salary In SQL Server
 
Similarly, to find the 5th highest salary simply replace N with 5. 
 

Conclusion

 
In this article, I explained how to find the second highest salary with several ways in SQL Server with examples. I hope this article has helped you to understand this topic.
 
Post your valuable feedback in the comments section.