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How to find the first 5 highest salaried employees in each department

Given employee table in scott user, how will I find the first 5 highest salaried employees in each dept.?

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Assuming this is SQL/Server 7, use the SELECT TOP option to select the top 5 in each department in a correlated subselect --

select *
  from scott.employee X
 where salary in
       (select top 5 salary
          from scott.employee
         where dept = X.dept
       order by salary desc)
 order by dept, salary desc

Sorry, I'm not 100% sure this will work because I do not have access to SQL/Server to test this. I'm not certain the syntax for referring to scott's employee table is correct.

Note that the ORDER BY in the subselect is descending, so that the TOP function will pick the five highest salaries. The ORDER BY in the outer query sorts the results by highest salaries within department.

By the way, both I and Craig Mullins, another of's database experts, have written web page articles which discuss the "Top Ten" problem --

The "Top Ten" Problem by Craig S. Mullins /ssu_0900.htm

Top Ten SQL by r937 /article/TopTenSQL/18/131/

Mine's a little older and does not discuss SELECT TOP.

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This was first published in May 2001

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