Check out example codes for "sql highest salary by location". It will help you in understanding the concepts better.

Code Example 1

Both options you find max as a subset and then exclude from main select
sql> SELECT MAX( col ) FROM table
 	WHERE col < ( SELECT MAX( col ) FROM table);
sql> SELECT MAX(col) FROM table 
WHERE col NOT IN (SELECT MAX(col) FROM table);

Code Example 2

/*  Highest salary by Department/Location   */
SELECT e.ename, e.sal, e.deptno, d.loc
FROM emp e
JOIN dept d
ON e.deptno = d.deptno
WHERE e.sal in
  	select max(sal) 
  	from emp 
  	group by deptno

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